Monday, May 31, 2010

RailGate RunAround....The Final Countdown?



It's another two day delay.

At least.

And the rumours are flying.

About this, that, and everything - especially on the very few proMedia comment threads devoted to the subject that still remain open.

After all, when the public is left in the dark for going on seven years rumour mills are bound to run and run and run and run like, well, runaway railway locomotives.

Or some such mixed metaphor.


But justice must be both done and seen to be done.


And while Martyn Brown reportedly left the courthouse in a huff this morning*, perhaps the time has come for us to ask ourselves the following.....

How much would Gordon Campbell be willing to give up to get the HST to be 'before the courts' right now?

*Please note..... That the apparent observation of huff-puffery on the part of Mr. Campbell's chief-of-staff was made outside the courtroom by one of Mary's Anon-O-Mice.....Thus, to the best of our knowledge, it is not part of the following Joe Keithleyesque equation........ legal wrangling - jury = publication ban.


RailGate For Real.....Previewing The Return Of Day 4



Update, 2:00pm: Awwwww.......Crumplestiltskins!....Judge dismissed the jury again today....Supposed to be back Wednesday for further cross-examination of Campbell chief-of-staff Martyn Brown....Railgate's most diligent courtroom recorder, Robin Mathews, pushes the publication ban as far as he can and wonders if the delay might be just a wee bit longer over at Mary's....I'll have more to say later....


Assuming that Aneal Basi's sniffles have passed....

And none of the lawyers have suddenly been summoned to have a squash game-induced knee cartilage tear repaired....

Today's the Day for Day 4, for real!


Now, in addition, to some reality-based digging, the long lay-off got me to thinking, lo these many years later, what would have happened if.....

Udhe Singh (David) Basi had never (apparently) unexpectedly appeared on some wiretaps and become a person of interest to The Horsemen while they carried out what ostensibly was a Drug/O'Crime investigation dubbed 'Project EveryWhichWay' way back when?

I mean, what would the principals be up to now, if RailGate had never happened?


Here are my (only half tongue-in-cheek) wildly-speculative guesses:

David Basi.... Would have made a smooth transition into the Premier's office as...You guessed it.....The second coming of the man with many hats.....Which means that poor Mr. Seckel would still be toiling as Festus.....errrrr.....'Deputy' AG.....

Robert Virk.....Would have made good on the 'Bob From Burnaby' moniker, getting elected as a rookie backbencher in 2005 ....After being re-elected, by the skin-of-his-talk-show-assisted teeth, in 2009 he would have replaced Kevin Krueger as Minister-In-Charge-Of-The Marshmallow to be trumpeted by Keith Baldrey as the finest Minister ever who never leaked nothin' 'bout no Casino-Industrial Complex to nobody...

Aneal Basi.....After successfully executing a series of high profile, but completely above-board, newly minted, miscellaneous-statute sanctioned, media-monitoring contracts, Mr. Basi-The-Younger would have been become Ben Stewart's right hand man in charge of E-mail 'recycling'.

Gary Collins....Would have stayed on as Minister of Finance into the front-end of the boom-times only to suddenly quit to take on Robert Milton's old job running a much larger, but not-quite-so-harmonious, airline....

Christy Clark.....Would have moved on to Finance after Mr. Collins' departure....Initially things would go so well that Carole Taylor would never receive Gordon's call/plea for help and instead goes FedLib (the resulting domino effect means former provincial Earth-Wind-And-Fire Minister never gets handed S. Owen's old seat on a silver-StealthCon platter) ....Later, with the HST on the horizon, Ms. Clark sees the writing on wall and momentarily goes rogue during caucus meeting....Gets 'Brenzingered'....Resigns to spend more time with family and have not-so secret meetings with Bill Vanderzalm....

Gordon Campbell.....Doesn't matter.....Regardless, he still would have been forced, due to his accumulated words, deeds and actions, to say this....


OK..... Enough with the joking around.

And I was.

Joking, I mean.

Scheduled for today is the continued defense cross-examination of the prosecution's first witness, Gordon Campbell's chief-of-staff, Martyn Brown.

And if things go according to previous plans, next up for Team Berar(n)dino are straight from the latest edition of the RailGate Top 40, former BC Rail CEO Kevin Mahoney and former Campbell Government Cabinet Secretary Joy Illington....

Enjoy the action.....Talk to you all later.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

RailBiz Relativity...We Are Family.


In recent posts we have established that two of British Columbia's private Railway Tycoons, David McLean of CN Rail and Peter Armstrong of Rocky Mountaineer Railtours each gave, either personally, or through their companies, at least $250,000, each, to the BC Liberal Party of Mr. Gordon Campbell since the latter became leader way, way, way back in 1993.

And, on the flipside, both private Rail Tycoons have done very well, indeed, in the wake of Gordon Campbell promise-busting dismantling of a very public Railway soon after he became the Premier of British Columbia in 2001.

Specifically, with the destruction of a 90 year-old statute that required BC Rail to run a public passenger service, followed shortly thereafter by the tainted/not tainted/sale/not sale of BC Rail to CN Rail, Mess'rs McLean and Armstrong ultimately came up aces by any and all financial measures one could choose to use and/or trumpet.

But here is something that most folks, even those who have been paying attention (including, initially, myself) may have missed.

Which is the fact that when Mr. Armstrong's Rocky Mountaineer/Great Canadian Tours private passenger business started rolling down the formerly public BC Rail tracks it was NOT Gordon Campbell's hand-picked 'executives' of the doomed Crown Corporation that Mr. Armstrong ultimately had to negotiate with to get the deal done.

Instead, it was David McLean and CN Rail:*

....In September 2004, Canadian National Railway Co. announced (Peter Armstrong's) Great Canadian had been selected to operate tourist trains on its newly-acquired British Columbia Rail routes.....

Which is somewhat ironic, given Mess'rs McLean's and Armstrong's willingness to bankroll the efforts of Mr. Campbell from the very beginning, don't you think?


Perhaps, not.

Especially when you consider something else you might not have known....

Which is the fact that Mr. McLean's son Sacha, back in the days before he became a Helicopter Company tycoon, once worked for......

Mr. Peter Armstrong:

.....Sacha and his older brother were asked to get involved in the company after David McLean needed to temporarily reduce his workload following heart issues about 13 years ago. His brother was still in law school; Sacha was working with Rocky Mountaineer. Both joined the family firm in 1996.

“I figured if I didn’t like it, I could always go work for Peter Armstrong [Rocky Mountaineer’s executive chairman],” he said. “At the same time, I always kept saying to Dad I would rather somehow get involved in the family business because I would rather manage my own money than someone else’s.”.....

Oh, and one last thing before we go......

So, apparently, did Premier Gordon Campbell's son Nicholas, according to a piece written by Darryl Greer in the Tyee in May of 2005 (which was noted subsequently for posterity by one of our friend Mary's Anon-O-Mice in the spring of 2009):

..... (Peter) Armstrong’s former employees include the premier’s son, Nicholas Campbell, as well as CN chairman David McLean’s son, Sacha McLean, according to a recent book by Paul Grescoe, entitled, “Trip of a Lifetime: The Making of the Rocky Mountaineer. The book details Armstrong’s longstanding battle with VIA Rail....

Imagine that!

*And, in case you didn't know it, Sean Holman's archives at Public Eye Online are a treasure trove of now and forever publically available information of the utmost historical import (please note that the CN press release announcing the deal with Great Canadian [interesting non-Casino moniker that, eh?] that Sean originally linked to is, surprise!, no longer operative).....
Please note: As per usual, absolutely no RailGate pre-trial publication bans were harmed in the writing of this post.....


Friday, May 28, 2010

RailGate Writedown....It's The Passengers Stupid



Early Saturday, Double (notso)Secret Probation, Update: Weekend Wurlitzer Wind-Up piece titled 'RailBiz Relativity....We Are Family' is now up, here.


Late Friday Update: Weekend Wurlitzer Wind-Up is coming....Promise....Just going to be delayed a little due to circumstances beyond my control....In the meantime, there is an interesting conversation going on in the comment thread....

In his most recent Tyee column wherein he lays waste to the myth that BC Rail was a money-sucking albatross hanging from our collective necks, Will McMartin explains how the first edition of the Gordon Campbell/Martyn Brown government rapidly ran up faux debts in the hundreds of millions that no honest man could possibly pay.

Essentially it was a three-pronged strategy that involved:

#1 - Suddenly announcing massive write downs on failed mega-extensions long-ago initiated by Bennett the Elder and one of his Wild Kelowna Boys.

#2 - Imposing unexplained, and unexplainable, 'special charges' for 'restructuring'

#3 - Gutting programs that generated revenue, including passenger rail service.


In yesterday's post we mentioned how, in the Fall of 2002, the Campbell/Brown government removed the longstanding legal requirement for BC Rail to provide passenger service by changing a 90 year old statute under the stealthy subheading titled 'Miscellaneous'.

But, of course, to make it all publically palatable the Campbell/Brown surrogates had to get out there and start making stuff up about how much money BC Rail's passenger programs were losing, as is demonstrated in the following excerpt from Will McMartin's Tyee piece mentioned above:

.....(Judith) Reid, the (pre-RailGate) transportation minister, now claimed that BC Rail's passenger operations were losing "approximately $10 million a year," and added: "The cars that operate the service require refurbishment or replacement at a cost of approximately $30 million.".....

{snippety doo-dah}

....Dave Chutter, (Campell/Brown government) MLA for Yale-Lillooet, attempted to buttress Reid's claim that passenger-rail was a money-loser, but his figures were much different than those from the minister. "The Cariboo Prospector [BC Rail's passenger service] has lost $4 million in each of the last three years," he exclaimed. "It has had a cumulative loss over the past five years of $21.66 million and has incurred an operating loss in every year since 1964."

(Those numbers are nowhere to be found in any of the company's annual reports.)....

Here is another report, from a PR/Biz fluff-piece from the time that helped paved the way for the privatization of the rail service along the 'allegedly' not-lucrative NorthVan to Whistler run:

.....BC Rail began its passenger service between Vancouver and Prince George, a lumber town in the central part of the province, in the early 1950s. But in recent years the route, which stops in Whistler, has been a money loser, said Alan Dever, a spokesman for the company, a Crown corporation.

The Cariboo Prospector, the main service, lost nearly $5-million in 2001, Mr. Dever said. A more expensive service catering specifically to tourists called Whistler Northwind, which only began operating in 2001, lost $2-million that year. BC Rail ended both services late last year after deciding the revenue they were bringing in did not justify the losses. According to Mr. Dever, regularly scheduled passenger trains anywhere in North America rarely make money.....


After the door was first opened, by Campbell/Brown government fiat, in 2002, to run private passenger rail on BC Rail's tracks, who, ultimately, ended up with the rights to move folks to Whistler and back, culminating in the shuttling of the pseudo-rich-and-famous up and down the line during the recent five-ringed Circus?

Why, that would be an outfit called the Rocky Mountaineer Railtours.

And who owns that outfit?

Why, that would be none other than Peter Armstrong, a fine fellow who Darryl Greer, writing in the Tyee in May of 2005, said:

....donated more than $60,000 to the Liberals, both personally and through his companies, since 2002 according to reports filed with Elections BC.....

Which got us to wondering just how much Mr. Armstrong and his 'Armstrong Group' of companies has given the Campbell/Brown party since then.


Here are the 2005 to 2010 numbers straight from the Elections BC Website:

If you click to enlarge the image above, you'll see that the total is $197,170 since 2005. Which, believe it or not, is even more than David McLean and CN Rail gave to the BC Liberal Party over the same period.

In addition, there is an interesting tangential Railgate connection between the Armstrong, McLean and the Campbell clans that involves more than just money.

And we'll tell you all about that later, if needed, in our Weekend Wurlitzer Wind-Up to come.

Stay tuned.....

Please note: No pre-trial publication bans of any kind were harmed in the writing of this post.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

RailGate Miscellanea....How Much Is That Statute Worth?


Way, way, way back in 1912 the Rail Companies that later became BC Rail were bound by statute to provide a passenger rail service on their lines.

All that changed abruptly, ninety years later, in the Fall of 2002 when the Government of Gordon Campbell and Martyn Brown et. al. inserted a one sentence change to the law under the deceptively innocuous header of 'Miscellaneous Statutes':

.....(N)one of the company, any subsidiary or any person under the control of the company or of any subsidiary is required to provide passenger service over all or any part of its line or lines of railway in British Columbia......


Who benefitted?


Did they who did, perchance, contribute any money of significance to the B.C. Liberal Party of Gordon Campbell and Martyn Brown?

Answers to follow.....

Original 'Miscellaneous' Link Source....Another fantastic piece by Will McMartin in The Tyee which puts lie to the repeated Campbell/Brown government claim that there was no strategy to convince the public that BC Rail was a financial albatross around our necks.....
Update: Answer to question posed directly above is here....


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Is More Unpopular Than....


....The Dreaded HST?

Well, when the Globe's Justine Hunter asked Premier Gordon Campbell that question recently he had a most interesting answer.

And, luckily (we think) Sean Holman was there to capture it for posterity.....


Wonder what Mr. Campbell's answer will be if and when someone asks him a similar question about RailGate on, say, the Eve of the Canada Day long weekend a few weeks hence?


RailGate 'Round The Bloggodome, Part Deux


The Bloggodome's most fully accredited, not to mention most decorated, RailGate reporter/columnist, Robin Mathews, is worried about the true relevancy of the latest seemingly irrelevant mutterings of the case's very specially chosen prosecutor Mr. William Berar(n)dino:

.....Mr. Berardino, “Special” Crown Prosecutor, announced this (Tuesday May 25th/10) morning that, when court sits again on Monday next [May 31] at nine in the morning, he will bring up the matter of “relevancy. [He means “relevance”, but maybe “relevancy” sounds more important.]

What he will say, doubtless, is that the Defence is throwing a huge net to catch whatever they can [not relevant], while the case is a very simple one about three men allegedly doing dirty little deeds of the kind a free society cannot countenance. “Get on with the simple, straightforward, clear case”, he will say in one way of another.

Canadians (and British Columbians, especially) need to pay close attention to that argument. Upon it, I say, hinges whatever possibility there is for some degree of justice to come out of the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial.....

Personally, I fear Mr. Mathews may be on to something.

And what's worse, all this shushing and the serial disappearing of the defence' homework by her marmymostestness, Mdme. Justice Anne MacKenzie, has me doubly worried.


Meanwhile, Laila, who is doing a damn fine investigative journalist's job on other, non-RailGate, aspects of the Campbellerians' continuously corrosive corruption campaign that never ends, notes that the most dangerous part of an iceberg is the massive, hulking mass of the thing that you cannot see unless you peer under the surface without wearing the proMedia's blackout goggles:

.....This fact is why I can’t help but refer to the Basi-Virk trial as being only the tip of the proverbial iceberg! There is so much more below the surface of this series of events that is indicative of a much larger mass of corruption below the surface of government that most of you see! I laugh when I read opinion editorials that denounce the defense strategy of making this trial about Gordon Campbell, or about the Liberals at large, rather than only Basi and Virk, because I truly believe that even only the facts will prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that these two men acted on their own accord, without the instructions of those in the highest echelon of the government.

That, my friends, is my truth, and the one that keeps me inspired in continually digging to find the facts that will end this Liberal charade forever.....

And our good friend Gary E., who like, like the patron-saint of real story of the selling of BC Rail, Paul Nettleton, actually hails from the northern part of our great province that has been most greatly affected by the sale of the Railway, has just it with the proMedia coverage of the trial. So much so that he now can't help but notice even when they make a silly mistake that, even we in the Bloggodome essentially never commit (unless I write another piece about Bobby Orr and/or Reggie Leach and inadvertently stick something about Mr. Campbell's alleged, and embarrasing, late adolescent love for all things Cooperall).....

Here's Gary:

.....Imagine my surprise when I highlighted a (Railgate) story by (the fully proMedia-accredited) nhall and when it came up it was under the SPORTS section. Not NEWS or Breaking NEWS but SPORTS.

So my conspiracy theorist mind jumped into high gear and I wondered if this was deliberate and was it happening in the print for?. You see, if it is then there are a whole raft of people (like myself) who wouldn't think of looking in the Sports section for a JURY TRIAL. What do you think of my Conspiracy Theory, Palmer and Baldry?

Now I know that somebody is going to say people make mistakes, but these people are supposed to be PROFessionals with PROFessional editors. Ha!

I'm willing to bet PROF Mathews could do a better job.....

A better job indeed.

Walked the length and breadth of Rue St. Urbain after the science-geek bashing ended a little early today......And while I did not see any Horsemen, I did have a great time, good ice cream,and a couple of damn fine bagels....Very, very, mid-30's hot in Montreal at the moment....So hot that when I hopped in a cab out to Trudeau (the airport bus system, which I normally take to save the folks who sell flowers and stuff to raise money to fund what Ido for real, is crap in this town) the driver smiled broadly, laughed, and said 'Welcome to Saudi Arabia!'......Anyway now that I'm sitting in the departure lounge I just have to mention, again, how much I hate the 'Boingo'....Which reminds me....Just so everybody knows.....We now keep our home wireless wide-open, just in case you happen to come for a visit, or even if you are just sitting out on the boulevard for no good reason at all or, perhaps, listening to the Two E's play something nice....Heckfire!....Imagine if entire neighbourhoods got together on this....We could seriously dent the Greedheaded Telcos' business and use the money saved to pay guys like this enough to seriously stay in business.... Whoops!....Got of on a tangent there for a second....Sorry about that.....I get like this in Airports sometimes when I'm doing everything I possibly can to try and avoid the TeeVee's glare and blare.....Including blasting these guys so loud through the headphones that people turn to stare....OK, that'e enough....Gotta go now.....Time to climb into the Cigar Tube for the ride home.....And my mantra for this flight?.....No matter what....I will not watch "Two and 1/2 Men"....I will not watch....I will not....I will.....I......Arrrrrggggghhhhhhhh.....


RailGate 'Round The Bloggodome



Given that there will be no beer and popcorn show for the rest of the week, all the proMedia scribes have gone back to wrapping less stinky fish for the duration.

Which means, of course, that we will just have to settle for bread and the latest G8 circus.

Not to mention endless stories about the worst movie sequel ever made whose title promises nothing of what it delivers and all those breathless reports from slightly tubby guys with stickin'-up hair wearing suits without ties hollering about how many facial injuries Steve Nash has 'suffered' in the last couple of weeks.






Because, the Railgate Bloggodome is still going strong.

Here's one example, from RailGate's Blogfather, Bill Tieleman, who is back in the saddle again asking that not-so non-partisan question that is on the tip of everybody's tongue......Which is.....Should Premier Gordon Campbell take the stand in his own defense?

(Defense Lawyer ) McCullough left Campbell with a lose-lose choice. He could agree to take the stand as a witness in order to dispel the allegation the premier had spoke to Virk and made promises after the raid, therefore becoming subject to rigorous questioning.

Or Campbell could let the unsubstantiated allegation go untested, leaving a politically damaging claim without a response in court.....

To which we can only say.....Ha!.....

Oh, and what will Norman Spector say?


Meanwhile over at RailGate Central, BC Mary keeps on chugging down the tracks and demands that the powers that be put the entire show on the damned TeeVee, because, then....

Like, Aneal could've stayed home in bed, and been more comfortable watching and listening to everything said in BC Supreme Court today, if somebody would flip the ON switch and televize the sessions from Courtroom #20, the Air India Courtroom (fully fitted). Right? Aneal and everybody else who cares about the BC Rail Corruption trial could be fully informed. So why not flip the damn switch and get on with the trial? Otherwise, what's the next time-out ... Bill Berardino has gout? Erik Bornmann has toothache? And before we know, it's Christmas again. Come on.....


This thing would soon push Coronation Street, the (nolongerso)Fresh Prince, AND Vanna White off the MotherCorp forever if, like the Watergate hearings, it was on the idiot box every single day for 8 weeks straight.


And kootcoot, as only he can, lays waste to the Ledgie Boys Liars' Club non-stop chanting that we are nothing but a cult:

....The traffic statistics for blogs like the Legislature Raids and here at the House of Infamy tend to indicate that there are more and more people who aren't only interested in this trial, but interested in getting beyond the same old spin of the same old PABlum Brigade and their allies of the formerly Assperson Press and Media Empire....

And just in case that's not enough for you, Koot also momentarily makes like the immortal Pat Burns and compares Martyn Brown to....... Mr. Bojangles.......Seriously!

Oh geez! look at the time (I'm on Eastern at the moment).....More, later, promise not to leave anybody out.....Gotta go mix it up with the science geeks for the moment.....


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

They Said.....We Said....



2:00pm Update.....As GAB points out in the comments, no action with M. Brown before Judge, Jury and the people of British Columbia, today, Tuesday....Why?.....Well, the Third Man, Aneal Basi, is ill......'allegedly'.....Sure hope this isn't a ruse to buy time for the Campbellerians to make like Monty Hall....Sorry to be late with this....Have been stuck in the underground science-geek bunker on Eastern time all day....Very, very anthropomorphically(?!) warm in Montreal today....

RailGate Fo'Real (Day 4) gets underway again today.

And Campbellerian Capo-In-Chief, Martyn Brown, is scheduled to be subjected to even more cross examination.....


Many in the proMedia have made a big fuss about how it is offside for the Defence to focus on the Campbell government's influence-peddling industrial complex instead of staying within the extemely narrow lawn-and-tennis-club confines of the case as outlined by the Prosecution durin its opening statements.

And you won't find a better example of that type of proMedia codswallop than the Globe's editorial from last Thursday. The following is an excerpt, offered-up for puke-inducing illustrative purposes only:

"....In cross-examination of Martyn Brown, Mr. Campbell’s chief of staff, Mr. Virk’s lawyer, Kevin McCullough, has advanced a theory that Mr. Campbell favoured a sale and lease of BC Rail’s assets to Canadian National Railway, and that he wanted to cause BC Rail to lose money, in order to argue for its privatization. If those suggestions were true, they would not add up to a defence, because the allegations against the defendants are about another, unsuccessful bid for BC Rail, by a U.S. company called OmniTRAX Inc.

Similarly, Mr. McCullough’s suggestion that Mr. Campbell’s evolution on the HST resembles his changing position on BC Rail hardly serves as a rational defence. After the B.C. election of 2009, the federal government offered the Ontario and B.C. treasuries financial incentives to adopt a sales tax almost identical to the GST – a far cry from any alleged inducements from a private company to the defendants.

An attempt to treat Mr. Campbell as if he were the principal defendant would be a demagogic abuse of the jury. Mr. McCullough and his colleagues should stick to the issues of the case."

Luckily for us, but perhaps not for the fine folks at BellGlobeTSNRDSCTVCHUMEverythingElseImaginableMedia, they made an exception and left the comment threads open on this one.

And there are many fine, informed, eloquent and forceful responses there that take the Globe and the other proMeds to task and demonstrate precisely why Mr. McCullough's approach is, in fact, appropriate from a legal defense point of view also.

My favourite comment in this regard so far is this one from Clayton Burns:

The editorial here is not as out of focus as the captions in The Sun and The Province today that misidentify Basi and Virk (despite today's excellent photo in the National Post), but still you have missed something that is very important, and that you should correct. The same goes for Gary Mason's more careful column.

Mason writes in his latest report of "the ever-patient and terrific judge in this case--Anne MacKenzie--" (an opinion I agree with, despite some unfortunate changes of direction re whether documents should be marked).

Therefore, Mr. Mason cannot be confused about what the judge said with great clarity--which Kevin McCullough emphatically agreed with--that what the defence "pit bull" is putting forward is the foundation or the prelude to proof or persuasive evidence. If he fails to follow through, he will have to admit that his questions were "loaded with wild, unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo" (to quote Mason's unqualified and slightly reckless statement).

The judge appears to be taking careful notes. It appears that the columnist Mulgrew from The Sun is also good at taking notes on his laptop. It might be best if some others had a pool arrangement for a super fast and accurate note-taker to get the proceedings down in black and white.

Otherwise, there will be gaps in the coverage, such as the failure to mention that Martyn Brown seemed befuddled as to what to make of the activities of Jamie Elmhirst, Pilothouse Public Affairs, and, more seriously, a loss of refinement when editorial positions are taken.

Fantastic stuff that, no?


What I can't wait to see is how Michael Bolton goes at Mr. Brown when McCullough's finally done. Will Bolton use a velvet glove over a fist of steel, or will he just go all out with an even bigger battering ram than Mr. McCullough's?

Either way, it's going to be interesting, so....

Get the popcorn ready!

And lay off the Bass Ale.

(at least until early afternoon)


Oh, and in case you missed it, what Laila has to say about all this is pretty darned forceful and eloquent also.


Monday, May 24, 2010

RailGate Spur-Line Re-Visited....



Maybe it's a good thing Omnitrax, the folks that paid Pilothouse $297,000 so that they could, in turn, allegedly give $27,000 of it to Aneal Basi, didn't win the Spur-Line to Roberts Bank Consolation Prize after all.

Otherwise, they may have held us up for ransom on that local 40km of railbed the same way they're doing out in the Kootenays with the Kettle Falls International.

Sheila Gardazi, in the Grand Forks Gazette, has the story:

Industry has proposed an agreement that, with government assistance, might keep rail service in Grand Forks, said Mayor Brian Taylor on Monday. A group of shippers that use the railway, including Pacific Abrasives and Interfor, contacted Omnitrax, which owns the Kettle Falls International Railroad.

“They were looking for an economic solution, and they found they could not find some economic solution exclusive of some government funding,” said Taylor.

What are these people anyway....

Corptacular Communists?

Just so you know, Omnitrax has threatened to tear up the tracks if it doesn't get what it wants, from governments on both sides of the border.



If You Are Brave Enough To....


....Face The Massive Border Line-Ups Today

Just so you can buy a little HST-free Budweiser, and/or pick a bushel or two of fruit as a day-labo(u)rer for the desperate land barons.

Whatever you do.....

(especially folks like kootcoot from the Kootenays who just might find themselves in Spudland when they cross over they cross the 49th)


Saturday, May 22, 2010

RailGate's Most Accredited Media Member Weighs In


I am convinced that Robin Mathews has spent more time in the RailGate courtroom than Special Prosecutor William Berar(n)dino.

Mr. Berardino is a fine fellow who was once partners with the even finer fellows that appointed him, former Attorney General Geoff Plant and former Deputy Attorney General (and now current Deputy Minister to Gordon Campbell), Mr. Allan Seckel (no conflict there, no siree). However, despite the fact that he is, allegedly, one of British Columbia's top legal minds, Mr. Berardino often left the RailGate pre-trial proceedings to his juniors (ie. he was nowhere to be found).

In contrast, Citizen Journalist Mathews has been there just about every single day since the very beginning.

Thus, Robin has also spent more time in the RailGate Courtroom than either presiding judge so far.

In fact, early on in the proceedings, when it became clear that the public was being shut out of the process, it was Robin who went to bat for us and convinced then judge Bennett to correct the situation.

As a result, at least in part, a flood of documentary evidence ultimately became available for the public's perusal, culminating in the court's release of 15 binders filled to bursting with things like appointment letters, Emails, financial information, fundraising details, propaganda strategies, and even a pretty much daily 'tell all' journal that was kept by an insider as the deal to sell/not sell BC Rail was going down. Unfortunately, this is all stuff that we are no longer allowed to talk specifically about, especially if we consider ourselves to be 'publishers'.

Which I do.

Consider myself to be a 'publisher', I mean.

Even if it is only as a publisher of this little F-Troop list blog.

However, while I cannot tell you specifically what's in, for example, the tell-all journal, I do feel that it is my duty as a citizen of the Province of British Columbia to let you know, without actually publishing any of them, that every single pdf-ed page of those 15 binders is still available for scrutiny by your personal peepers, here.

And if you go to the summary page and read some of the evidence that has been selectively placed there, I think you will understand why we, the citizen journalists who have been paying attention, call complete and utter Bullshit! on people like the editorial writers of the Globe (and no longer Empire) Mail when they write circumscriptive, corp-lovin' codswallop like this. Not to mention the fact that we will continue to point and holler at the mountains of cowshit that were never, allegedly, ever dumped on Jim Sinclair's lawn when people like Vaughn Palmer, Keith Baldrey and Bill Good continue to opine, on the public airwaves, that the RailGate defence has made a lot of accusations without providing any evidence.

Why will we continue to call out this crap?

Because, as detailed above, we know the evidence exists.

And so do they.

Heckfire, some of that evidence even exists in Mr. Palmer's own previously-published columns.


Just to be crystal clear, the evidence is most definitely piled highest in the many RailGate columns written by Mr. Robin Mathews over the years, most of which are archived forever at our good friend Mary's place and/or at Vive le Canada.

And now, finally, with the trial really, and still somewhat surreally, on for real, Mr. Mathews has written his first column of the post-pre-trial era.

An era where publication bans, either imposed from the court on high, or from a proMedia herded by its editors and/or its own collective tail, will no longer stand.

Because the citizens are watching and they are speaking loudly, forcefully, and often eloquently.

In fact, some of the best recent examples of that force and eloquence can be found in the fantastic thread of informed comment from the citizenry that followed the egregious Globe editorial mentioned above.

And, clearly, a citizenry that wishes to remain informed about what is really going down in RailGate courtroom from here on in would be well advised to read the columns of the most highly accredited member of OUR media.

Which would be Mr. Mathews.


I must confess that there is only one thing that I have been really concerned about throughout the first week of the new post-pre-trial Era of real, honest-to-goodness Goldenness, which is the nagging feeling that a whole lotta of the evidence that we know exists may have been retroactively pulled back by Judge #2....This is something that Robin put very succinctly in his latest column when he wrote: "....(Defence lawyer) Mr. McCullough would ask the judge to mark a document for identification (for the jury) or as an exhibit (a part of evidence)..... She would agree, or disagree....." It's that last bit that really has me worried. In fact I recall an exchange where Mr. McCullough said something to the effect of 'not now?' and the Judge retorted with something like, 'Maybe never.'....Most worrisome, that.....
Of course, there is someone else who has also spent a kingheck lot of time in Courtroom 54, and that is Bill Tieleman.....Bill is, most unfortunately, away at the moment taking care of things, and folks, that really matter, but his archives will singe your eyebrows if you want to either get up to speed, revisit all the major events, or, perhaps, most important for the weeks to come, get to know the back stories of the almost all of the major players....


Friday, May 21, 2010

RailGate For Real....(not) Day 4.....


6:30pm: Well, whaddy'a know.....Looks like the Globe's readers are not quite 'aligned' with their highly circumspcriptive Editorial writers......Ha!....Can the closing of the comment threads, again, be far behind.....(thanks to GWest, in the downstream comments, for the heads-up)...

4:30pm: Today's final score, so PAB-Bots - Ledge-Lackeys - 6... Quite a shellacking I must say.....Clearly the members of the winning team did not listen to one of their REAL Bosses, Curly, in the comments this morning....

Just because the Railgate Judge and the Lawyers are not working until Tuesday doesn't mean that we won't be....Stories we're working on include the following:

#1 - Who else, exactly, 'profited' from the Campbellero-driven 'failure strategy' in the run-up to the BC Rail sale/not sale (hint: 'It's the tax-breaks, stupid!').....

#2 - What really was the relationship between defendent David Basi, Star(chamber?) witness for the prosecution to come, Eric Borman(n), and (former?)FedLib Rainmaker Mark Marisssen BEFORE the BC Rail deal went down?.....

#3 - Who, precisely, signed 'Bob from Burnaby's OIC appointment letter when he became a ministerial assistant who would soon be on the inside of the RC Rail sale/not sale strategists' "cone of not-so much silence" not long after the 2001 election?...

#4 - And finally, because the ostriches, including The Ledgie Boys this morning, won't go there (although Gary Mason, to his considerable credit, did), we will delve into some of the publically available information regarding a subject that most of the proMedia stenos did not include in their reports of K. McCullough's cross-examination of Campbellero-In-Chief , Martyn Brown, so far......Which is
the activities of the "Outreach and Special Projects Division" of the Premier's office that was headed by Mr. Michael McDonald back in the day....And please note: Mr. McDonald is NOT the former front man for the Doobie Brothers....He is, however, the spouse of a former very, very high-ranking Campbellerian insider named 'Jessica'......And while we have no knowledge of his ever having owned a sled named 'Rosebud', Mr. McDonald most definitely did own a PR Firm called 'Rosedeer' that did some very 'innovative' work for a very, very fine fellow named Smilin' Sammy who has, by all accounts, never actually driven a Big Green Bus all by himself.... Imagine that!.....

OK.....That oughta be enough to get us through our popcorn-withdrawl over the weekend and get us all prepped and ready for the fireworks to come next week, don't you think?.....Oh, and rest assured that absolutely no pre-trial publication bans will be harmed in any way by these reports to come....Promise....

What the heckfire were we thinking....Did we actually expect Lawyers, Judges and (our) Money to work on the Friday before a long weekend?....Of course not!.... The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday....CBC is reporting that the defense plans to keep Campbellero-in-Chief Martyn Brown on the stand for most of the week...

Well, well, well.....Appears the PAB-Bots are in a tizzy....Multiple sightings before 7:00am....Interesting....


Thursday, May 20, 2010

RailGate For Real....Day 3....


8:00pm: How come the Defence didn't make any opening remarks earlier in the RailGate Week?....Well, Brian Hutchinson, CanWest's NaPo man-about-town says that the reason "cannot be disclosed owing to a publication ban".....Sheesh..... In addition, Mr. Hutchinson, who may have come late to the party, also says that there is no evidence that there was any paid, and potentially illegal, media dirty-tricking going down on M. Brown's watch.....Hmmmmm.....Those local Lotuslandians who have been paying attention, and who know how to double-up the thirteenth letter of the alphabet, might beg to differ....

7:30pm: OK, now things are getting surreal, not to mention really stupid...Apparently, according to a Day 3 round-up piece by Matt Kieltyka in 24 Hours, Robert Virk used the moniker 'Bob from Burnaby' when he called Talk Shows during the 2001 provincial election campaign to lob softballs at then not-quite-yet premier Gordon Campbell....Here's the real question, though.....Did Mr. Campbell know that it was Mr. Virk, who was working on his campaign at the time, that was calling?...And here is the follow-up....Was it, in fact, Mr. Campbell that recommended Mr. Virk's hiring as a ministerial assistant after that election?....Finally, did Mr. Campbell condone Mr. Virk's continued slow-pitching during the post-election BC Rail propaganda offensive?.....These questions, backed with the post-Ledge Raids 'conversation' issue discussed below, sure have me wondering if the defence is trying to build a rationale to justify calling Mr. Campbell himself as a witness down the road...... Meanwhile the Globe's editorial writers call for narrow, circumscribed, 'nothing-but-$27,000-in-bribes-to-be-seen-here' codswallop.....errrrr...calm....

I dunno about you, but I have long wondered why B.Virk was suspended, but kept on the payroll, after the Ledge Raids until the charges finally came down a year later ....Keith Fraser brings this up in his latest report in the Province (which has re-appeared on-line again, finally).....I always figured it had something to with the possibility that Mr. Virk had a lesser degree of involvement with anything allegedly nefarious that went down compared to the co-accused....But that seems to have changed, at least on the face of it with all this alleged 'bid-leaking' business....But what if, perhaps, somebody was instead trying to keep Mr. Virk on the reservation throughout that period?....It would appear that it was the latter possibility that Mr. Virk's lawyer, K. McCullough, was probing today when he asked Premier G. Campbell's chief of staff M. Brown in court today about alleged repeated conversations that Mr. Campbell had with Mr. Virk during the latter's year in limbo.....Mr. McCullough even went so far as to if these these conversations were designed to assure Mr. Virk that he would be 'taken care of' if he were to keep quiet over the long haul....As noted below, it was this line of questioning that led Mr. Brown to state that he would be 'shocked' if this did take place.....So...... In the absence of further evidence (so far at least), let's go down that alley, if only just for a moment, and consider the possibility that Mr. Brown is actually right about his 'shock' being an indication that such conversations between Mr. Campbell and Mr. Virk did NOT take place... With that possibility in mind, does it not make you wonder, now more than ever, precisely why Mr. Virk was kept on the payroll for an entire year when co-accused Mr. D. Basi was cut loose essentially almost immediately after the original raids?....

3:30pm: CBC B.C. is reporting (un-bylined) that
defence lawyer K. McCullough has alleged that.."Bobby Virk was hired on the personal suggestion of Premier Gordon Campbell.....He (McCullough) also suggested Campbell called Virk regularly after the police raid on the legislature and told Virk the party would take care of him if he kept his mouth shut." ....For his part Mr. Campbell's chief-of-staff M. Brown responded with yet another non-denial denial saying that..."he was not aware of that and would be shocked it were true...".....Yes, and as Claude Rains once said to Humphrey Bogart...."I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! " (as the croupier handed him a bundle of money)......Ha!

Well whaddy'a know, it looks like the limited hangouts have begun in earnest....Say what?....Well, while he denies ever telling one of the defendents, specifically, to call up talk-shows and do the wrong-way shuffle, Gordon Campbell's chief-of staff Martyn Brown did say, under cross-examination and under oath, that......'he only ever encouraged political staff to ask others to call such shows, although it was a "perfectly acceptable practice" for government employees who weren't on the clock to phone in with favourable questions during the run-up to an election....." Now that shows the utmost integrity, eh? (see yesterday's walk down the many-meetinged 'integrity path' during the softball questions from the prosecution).... But as to those 'others' ......We can only wonder if there there ever any 'inducements' offered to them to encourage them to make those calls when 'asked'?.....Oh, and also according to the CPress (un-bylined), Mr. Brown used the 'no knowledge' non-denial denial defense (again) regarding any orders that may or may not have been given by then finance minister Gary Collins to his charge, Mr. Basi, to engage in such acts of ratf*cking......Oh, and, off-topic but why, pray tell, does CanWest keep posting, and then pulling down, and then later re-posting 'blow-by-blow' Railgate reports from their local stringers Mess'rs Hall and Fraser?.....

What did Mr. Brown tell Mr. Virk and when did he say it???....The defence has accused Gordon Campbell's chief of staff Mr. Martyn Brown, and perhaps Mr. Campbell also, of telling Mr. B. Virk after the Ledge Raids that he would be taken care of if he just 'played the game' and 'kept his mouth shut'.....Mr. Brown responded with a non-denial denial saying that 'he doesn't remember' and has 'no knowledge' of such conversations having taken place....NW's Marcella Bernardo has the story....In addition, the issue of the Talk Show Call-in-Posse of the highest (?) integrity has come up with Mr. Brown....He has, apparently, admitted some involvement....Does this mean that the limited hangouts have begun?....

Apparently, the defence will get to have another go at Campbell Gov't chief-of-staff Martyn Brown.....According to the VSun, next up for the prosecution is supposed to be former BC Rail executuve Kevin Mahoney who was a 'staff advisor' to that BC Rail Restructuring Committee that defendant B. Virk was supposed to report to back in the day....More recently, Mr. Mahoney was the CEO of the way-stripped down operationless version of BC Rail (ie. he was, for all intents and purposes, the guy that was paid big bucks to watch over the Spur line that nobody so far, OmniTrax included, has managed to win as a consolation prize).....One might also wonder if, as a longtime RC Rail exec., if Mr. Mahoney had, perhaps, a penchant for writing Emails to various associates when, say, his company came under fire?....Also scheduled is Ms. Joy Illington who was once the deputy cabinet secretary in the government of Gordon Campbell....Why Ms. Illington?....Well we can only wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that her job description means she was good at telling folks about things like privilege or, alternatively, if it has something to with the fact that as a cabinet secretary she may have been very good at writing memos to cabinet Ministers, regardless whether or not they were named Judith....


RailGate Pushback....Responding To Mr. Brown....


Yesterday, when defence attorney K. McCullough suggested that the bidding for BC Rail was tainted by the fact that CP Rail pulled out early after screaming that the fix was in (and with good reason), Mr. Gordon Campbell's chief-of-staff Martyn Brown responded that a so-called "Fairness Advisor" had scrubbed all the 'taint' away.

I beg to differ.


Because I read the 'interim version' of the Fairness Advisor's Report more than two years ago . As a result, I wrote the following post, wherein I pointed out what I believe to be a fatal error of omission that was committed by the "Advisor" in it's rush to complete it's taint-scrubbing mission in the final days before the BC Rail sale/not sale was announced in the Fall of 2003.


Please be advised.......
Any and all redactions marked by ******* ,below, were inserted into the text to ensure that no pre-trial publication bans were harmed in the writing of this post.

RailGate Resurrected - Hansard Strikes Back! (From Dec 16, 2007)


Late last week British Columbia government lawyer Mr. ****** ****** 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 ******* *******:

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

******-******* **********."


Given that Mr. ******* and, presumably, his boss* have decided to use Hansard to justify actions that, on the face of them, make little logical (and, perhaps, no *****?) 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. ******, 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 (interim) 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 added in 2010 reprint proof - please note that the link is no longer active...Imagine that!... But if you'd like a copy to call your own, just Email me from profile page....RossK).

"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 here 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. ALL 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 '*******-****** ********'.

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 Willcocks' 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......


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

RailGate For Real....Day 2 Updates....


9:05pm: Summing up Day 2 succinctly, our friend, and citizen journalist extraordinare, BC Mary says: "The tables were turned..... (today) it seemed the province was on trial"......We assume Mary means the province's current government, headed by Mr. Gordon Campbell....We could not agree more....Meanwhile Gary Mason, in his (now daily?) Globe column, ties himself into a pretzel trying to convince us that dual defence strategies aimed at pointing out the serial lapses in the integrity of the government of Gordon Campbell as well as destroying the Crown's case are somehow mutually exclusive....After all, it was not the defence that led us down Martyn Brown's garden path of spotless integrity all morning long....

6:50pm: Brian Hutchinson in the NaPo (ie. CanWest, non-Lotuslandian Division...apologies I got moniker wrong first time 'round, Anon-O-Mouse corrected me in the comments, and rightfully so) notes in his Day 2 round-up that the defense is threatening to go back at the government's alleged pre-sale BC Rail 'failure strategy' (see earlier comments for details) when Bobby Virk takes the stand later (and, in fact, the header writer put the term 'devalued' into the screamer at the top of Hutchinson's piece - ha!).....Looks like the accused are not going to down meekly....But.....Mr Hutchinson, like so many others in the proMedia Herd are now 'suddenly' focussing on the fact that CN and it's CEO David McLean were big BC Liberal Party donors from way back....What the heck is wrong with these people?.....I mean can't they use the search function on the Elections BC website?...Or, failing that, the 'teh'?....Sheesh....

John McComb and reporter Marcella Bernardo on the (nolongerso)Giant'98 actually discussed, in some detail, the BC Rail 'failure strategy' that the RailGate defense alleges was used to justify the sale/not sale with malice aforethought by the Campbell government....The CKNW folks also noted the non-denial denial responses from M. Brown when he was under cross examination today (see today's earlier reports for details)...McComb and Bernardo also re-raised the issue of the historical big money donations to the BC Liberal Party by winning bidder CN Rail, which is an issue we raised last weekend on the eve of the trial (and no, unlike at least one rumoured proMedia member in this town, we do not have an 'in' with the defense)...For his part, under cross-examination, M. Brown just made like Sgt. Shultz on this one and said he 'knew nothing!'.......Well.....Alrighty then....

Mike Hanafin of CKWX has an interesting tidbit up on their website (with the help of CP files)....Apparently defense lawyer K. McCullough raised the issue of the early CP Rail pullout from the BC Rail bidding process with witness, and G Campbell chief of staff, Martyn Brown during cross examination this afternoon to make the point about a different kind of 'taint' than the one that was raised by SP Berardino in his opening statement for the Crown yesterday....In response, Mr. Brown apparently dismissed the 'taint' because of the findings of the 'Fairness Advisor'....Oh boy....The issue of the Fairness Advisor's Report...Raised in open court.... With the jury present!....In the word's of the immortal J. Ramone..... Hey-Ho, Let's Go!.....Because it would appear that Mr. Brown just may have let a whole lotta cats outta the 'pre-trial publication ban' bag.....Heckfire!

Neal Hall (him again!?, OK....maybe he can stay 'accredited' after all), is running with a new lede on K. McCullough's and the defense' strategy, which is that they will try to demonstrate that the fix was in, right from the beginning, for CN, and by extension, it's CEO, former chief BC Liberal Party fundraiser Mr. David MacLean, to win the bid for BC Rail's 'operations' from the get-go.....Again, Martyn Brown did not flatly deny this, but instead said, and I quote, "I don't believe that's true".....Now this is interesting.....Is there anybody else out there that just might be able to shed further light on this matter, under oath, if they were to be called by the defense as a witness down the road?....Does such a (at least so far) mythical/hypothetical person exist...I mean is there anybody else out there who has raised and/or donated lots of money for/to the BC Liberal Party that also may, or may not, have had working relationships with either or both CN and BC Rail....Is there?...Huh?....Hmmmmmm......Just thought I'd ask....But...Why is it I am suddenly conjuring up a not-so-mythical magic number?.....

Hey, Mess'rs Baldrey, Palmer and Good......If the folks interested in RailGate are nothing, as you have stated, nothing but a 'cult' of the of the same eight people, how come my site-meter has gone literally crazy in the last few days.....And on a related note, why are so many of those hits coming directly from the domain?

Neal Hall of the VSun is reporting that, under cross-examination from defense lawyer K. McCullough, G. Campbell chief of staff Martyn Brown went into non-denial denial mode on at least two counts....First, he skipped around the pre-2001 election promise issue, a promise authored, at least in part by Mr. Brown himself, by stating that the sell-off of BC Rail was not actually a sell-off, but instead was just the engagement of 'a private operator to operate the business' (me: for up to 990 years?....ha!)....Secondly, Mr. Brown called the possibility that there was a 'BC Rail must fail strategy' in the run-up to the sale/not sale 'absurd', and then when into a long-winded answer but apparently did not flat out deny that the strategy did not exist....Both points have us wondering if slithering-in-the-most-serpentine-fashion-possible when potentially damaging issues come up was a regular part of those morning loyalty oath sessions that Mr. Brown made such a big deal about in response to the more friendly questions from SP Beradino earlier in the day.....Next up, according to Mr. Hall's report, is former BC Rail CEO, both for the earlier Sale/Not Sale and for the later high-priced guardianship of the 'Spur' line that nobody, including OmniTrax, ever got 'consoled' with, Mr. Kevin Mahoney.....

No word on all this 'withdrawl of admissions' business that apparently took place this morning before things got rolling and which was mentioned in an earlier post.....Either it fell into the preTrial Catch-22....... or.....perhaps it was all just a little too complicated and/or arcane for the pack (and, yes, I will withdraw the comment and apologize if something turns up regarding this matter in the proMedia later)....

CBC BC is reporting that Gordon Campbell's chief-of-staff Martyn Brown re-took the stand this morning and stated, surprise!, that he 'never' authorized his charges, D. Basi or R. Virk to take gifts and gratuities from OmniTrax and/or their agent Pilothouse....But is that really the question that should be asked here?...And is Mr. Brown really the one that should be asked?.....More importantly, does SP Berar(n)dino, who is NOT highly experienced in criminal trials, actually think this kind of 'oath-based offense' will stand-up if, say, Gary Collins is cross-examined by the defense and the matter of, oh, I dunno, 'media-monitoring contracts' comes up?....Sheesh....No wonder the accused plead 'not guilty'.....


What's The Buzz?.....Tell Us What's A Happenin'!


Something's going down in the RailGate courtroom before Martyn Brown takes the stand this morning.

Our good friend Mary has the story, straight from the Supreme Court Announcement List....

BC Rail corruption trial continues today in BCSupreme Court Room 54 at 10:00 AM .

A very brief listing for the three Accused (File #23299) -- in Courtroom 54 -- today May 19, 2010 at 10:00 AM:

Application to withdraw the admissions filed on February 10, 2010.
Application to withdraw the admissions filed on February 10, 2010.



What's it all about Alfie?

Or should we say Billy?

Why Billy?

Well, Ian Reid, who hasn't steered us wrong on this matter yet, left this comment over at Mary's place that could be very illuminating, indeed:

Application to withdraw the admissions?

The defense hasn't made any admissions. Therefore this isn't a defense application. And that means it's either an SP or gov't application to withdraw evidence already entered. And the SP wouldn't be doing that so it must be the government.

In other words isn't this an attempt by the government to withdraw evidence they've been forced to provide by one of Bennett's orders? Or to change Bennett's order so they don't have to provide some incriminating docs?


If something like this is going down, will we even know?

I mean, if it is not done in open court, with the jury present, will the publication ban keep it secret?

And even if it's not, will the fully-accredited sheep herd even report on it?


RailGate For Real....Day 2 Preview....


First up today, for the Crown, will, apparently, be the continued testimony of Gordon Campbell's right hand man, Mr. Martyn Brown....Yesterday afternoon Mr. Brown essentially offered up bromides about the sanctity of the loyalty and confidentiality oaths taken by ministerial assistants like the defendents....Me, I'm looking forward to the the defense having a go at this very fine, and very loyal, fellow.....

Coming soon is (former?) FedLib Rainmaker, and former spouse of former Deputy Premier Christy Clark, Mark Marissen who will testify regarding the defendants' apparent request/demand of future Fed Lib employment....This issue is something we have known about in general terms for sometime....But what we have not previously known are the 'specifics', which were delivered to us on a lede-buried silver platter by Mark Hume in his Day 1 wrap-up yesterday:

.....Mr. Berardino said Mark Marissen, a political consultant, will provide evidence “about job opportunities being pursued” by Mr. Virk and Dave Basi – specifically one as chief of staff for Paul Martin, who became prime minister in December of 2003...

Which, of course, this begs the question....Why would the alleged principals involved in a Pilothouse-assisted bout of influence peddling have any pull at all with a bigtime LibParty appartchik like Mr. Marissen?.....Hmmmmm.....Could it have anything to do with the fact that Pilothouse's third member was former Liberal Party of Canada B.C. president Jamie Elmhirst?....Or could it have had something to do with D. Basi's own bonafides with respect to Small Paul's early decade domination of WestCoast FedLib Riding Associations?.....Boy, it sure will be interesting, to say the least, to see if the defense tries to get to the heart of that matter....


Irony, Thy Name Is Two Hundred Ninety-Seven


I dunno about you, but something buried deep within Mark Hume's RailGate Day 1 Round-Up in the Globe struck me as just literally too bizarre for words.....

.....(RailGate Special Prosecutor) Mr. Berardino said evidence will show (US RailCo) OmniTrax paid Pilothouse $297,000 and that Erik Bornman, a director of Pilothouse, will testify “that he made regular money payments to Mr. [Dave] Basi . . .[and that] Mr. Basi instructed him to make checks payable to Aneal Basi.”.....

Why bizarre?

Well, because of that number in red.

Now, where have we seen that number, associated with BC Rail, before?

Hmmmmmmm.....let's have a think.....

And now if you'll just hang for a moment while I do a quick search....

Oh.... it is!

From Sean Holman's Public Eye (ie. nonPre-Trial) Archives:

.....British Columbia Railway Co. financial statements show the company paid $297,000 to former provincial Liberal co-chair Patrick Kinsella's companies Progressive Holdings Ltd. and The Progressive Group between 2002 and 2005 for services rendered....

Imagine that!

More seriously.....Pilothouse received $297,000 and allegedly did the bribing with a measly $27,000 .....So, here's the thing.....Given all that, how come it is only those that allegedly took the bribes that have been charged with a crime....What's really up with that we wonder?