Friday, December 31, 2010

Three Wishes To Live By....


Enjoy every cup of coffee in a warm restaurant, each day your fridge is well-stocked and every walk along the ocean.

Refuse to accept the diminished lives imposed on your fellow citizens, recognizing the shame it brings on us all.

Demand better - and put your money and volunteer effort into making it so.

And consider how important it is to pay attention - really pay attention - to the people around you.

Your laughter, your praise, your concern, your love - those are the most precious gifts. And so easily given.

Happy New Year everybody.

We're going to a house party tonight.

I am taking my guitar.

It is a brand spanking new-to-me black Takamine.

Hopefully, someone will ask me to play.

If not, I will probably play when I get home.

And if not then, I will most definitely play tomorrow with the Whack-A-Doodle.

And maybe with the kids too.

I think we will go here.

Bye for now.


RailGate Remainders...Our Top Ten Questions Continued...The Pay-Off


Number 8.

In the fall of 2010 the RailGate trial came to an abrupt halt just as the former BC Liberal government Finance Minister (and David Basi's last boss), Mr. Gary Collins, was about to take the stand.

Both the abruptness and the halt of the trial were facilitated by the sudden announcement of a six million dollar deal that some, myself included, have suggested should be viewed as a pay-off to the defendants and their legal teams.


A lot of attention at the time was focussed on the roles that then Attorney General Mike 'I Bake Cookies!' de Jong and one of his deputies, Mr. David Loukidelis, played in the brokering of that deal.

However, what was essentially all but ignored by the proMedia was the fact that the current Finance Minister, Mr. Colin Hansen, and one of his deputies, Mr. Graham Whitmarsh, also helped put together that deal and, presumably*, approved the actual dollar amounts paid out in the pay-off (which, of course, were not their monies, but instead were ours).

But wait, there's more!

Which is the part that I find most egregious given that it was, to the best of my knowledge, completely ignored by the Lotuslandian proMedia....

Specifically, Mr. Whitmarsh was recently a business colleague of Mr. Gary Collins.

Here is how I described the business relationship between Mr. Whitmarsh and Mr. Collins (and its potential significance) at the time:

....Former RailGate era Finance Minister Gary Collins once worked for David Ho's now defunct Harmony Airways.

....Current Deputy Finance Minister Graham Whitmarsh, who helped Deputy AG David Loukidelis put together the super-secret $6 million dollar plea-copping bonus-baby deal that ensured that former Minister Collins would never have to testify, under oath, in front of transcripts of RCMP surveillance wiretaps, at the RailGate trial, also worked for Harmony back in the day.

But here's something we didn't know, courtesy of Sean Holman's fantastic archives over at Public Eye.....

.....Current Deputy Finance Minister Whitmarsh was 'relieved' of his duties at Harmony on Nov. 30th 2006.

....Former RailGate era Finance Minister Collins resigned from Harmony just one day later on Dec. 01 2006.

Which, in my opinion at least, means two more things.....

....Mr. Whitmarsh and Mr. Collins know each other because they both worked together as executives at the small, locally-based Harmony Airways at the same time.

....It is not unreasonable for a reasonable person to wonder if the government of British Columbia and, more specifically, the Premier of British Columbia under whose pleasure all deputy ministers serve, placed Mr. Whitmarsh in a conflict of interest by having him help work out a super secret deal that ultimately benefitted a previous close business associate.



Here is my question for the current Finance Minister, Mr. Colin Hansen:

"How, exactly, was it NOT a conflict of interest to have Mr. Graham Whitmarsh, who is a former business associate of Mr. Gary Collins, work out a deal that prevented Mr. Collins from testifying in open court, under oath, about his role, or lack thereof, in the (now established) illegal leaking of documents and information to private concerns regarding the longterm leasing of public assets then under the control of BC Rail?"


*I say, 'presumably' approved the dollar amounts because, despite what Rafe Mair suggested at the time, Vaughn Palmer let us 'know' that this would not have gone to mini-Treasury and/or Cabinet for approval due to a (well-designed?) technicality....Now, if true, wouldn't that have been an oh-so convenient cut-out of plausible deniability?.....For cabinet, Mr. Hansen, and the then (and still!) Premier maybe....But, in my mind it makes the potential conflict with respect to Mr. Whitmarsh's involvement all the more significant.....Alas, as noted above this potential conflict appears to have never been raised by the proMedia at the time....


Thursday, December 30, 2010

RailGate Remainders...Our Top Ten Questions Continued


Number 9.

In April of 2009 Gary Mason went all Ron Obvious once again and reiterated something that we and others had already brought up, which was the fact that once upon a time (ie. way, way back in 2003) Joy MacPhail asked Mr. Gordon Campbell a very important question on the floor of the BC Legislature. Essentially, Mr. Campbell left the question unanswered when he told Ms. MacPhail to go FOI herself.

And the following is how Mr. Gary Mason described it in the high profile, and very public, prints of the The Globe and (nolonger)Empire Mail:

....During the bid period (for the BC Rail deal), Mr. (Patrick) Kinsella was seen entering the Premier's wing of the legislature with CN chairman David McLean on more than one occasion. The relationship between Mr. Kinsella and CN was raised in the legislature in May, 2003, by then-NDP MLA Joy MacPhail, who identified Mr. Kinsella as a paid lobbyist for the national rail line.

In an exchange long since forgotten, Ms. MacPhail asked Mr. Campbell if he had ever met Mr. Kinsella and Mr. McLean during the bid phase.

The Premier said at the time he didn't have an answer, and that if Ms. MacPhail wanted to know she could make a freedom-of-information request.

The trail went dry after that.....


Except, then, somewhat inexplicably, Mr. Mason, did something rather non-obvious when he 'suggested' the following in the very publicly-printed pages of The Globe in the spring of 2009:

....But now the matter is quite different. There is the appearance that Mr. Kinsella might have been on the payroll of BC Rail and CN Rail during the $1-billion sale of the rail line. And that there were meetings and phone calls going on between Mr. Kinsella and Mr. Campbell and/or members of his office.


Six years later the matter is suddenly quite different?

How, exactly, we could only wonder then, and are still wondering now.

Which brings us to our lingering RailGate Question #9, which is directed specifically to Mr. Gary Mason of the The Globe and Mail:

"Mr Mason, when you suggested in 2009 that there was an 'appearance' that Mr. Patrick Kinsella was simultaneously on the payroll of both BC Rail AND CN Rail at the time that the deal went down in 2003, did you actually have a source to back up such a suggestive assertion....Or..... Were you just making stuff up?"



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

RailGate Remainders: Our Top 10 Lingering Questions We Would Like Answers To...


Number 10.

Last August, back when all matters pertaining to RailGate were apparently still before the courts, two members of the dastardly Bloggers Cult, Laila Yule and G.A.B. went down to view the proceedings and were the first to report on an item that was later confirmed by Camille Bains in the Canadian Press.

It had to do with an issue raised by defense lawyer readings from personal diaries that were allegedly written by then Pilothouse principal, and current blogger and frequent radio talk-show guest, Mr. Brian Kieran.

Here is what Ms. Bains had to say in the (very) public prints:

VANCOUVER, B.C. (Aug 21/2009) - Emails to and from a political insider show he had a strong relationship with CN Rail, suggesting the company was pegged to win the bid to buy Crown-owned BC Rail, says a defence lawyer.

Michael Bolton told a B.C. Supreme Court hearing Friday he wants to cross-examine Patrick Kinsella about his connection to CN Rail while he was also a consultant for BC Rail.

Bolton read a string of emails from between April and May 2004 showing Kinsella was the conduit between top-level executives for both BC Rail and CN Rail and a senior B.C. civil servant when the sale seemed to be in jeopardy.

"The way in which (BC Rail) gets answers to CN Rail is to go to Kinsella rather than directly to CN," Bolton said in a hearing related to fraud and breach of trust charges against three former government employees.

Bolton, who is defending one of the accused men, said the trio were tasked by their political masters to keep a third company in the bidding process to make it appear that the sale of BC Rail to CN Rail wasn't rigged by the Liberals.

Bolton also said lobbyists at a Victoria firm called Pilothouse, which was representing Denver-based OmniTrax, a third company bidding for BC Rail, had also known about Kinsella's involvement with CN Rail while he was working for BC Rail.

"Kinsella working for CN," said an Aug. 19, 2002 handwritten note in a journal kept by Pilothouse lobbyist Brian Kieran, defence lawyer Kevin McCullough told the court......


Here is a question that we would most certainly like a very public member of the proMedia to ask the good Mr. Kieran:

"Did you ever state that Mr. Patrick Kinsella worked for CN Rail in 2002.....

... Yes or No?"


Why does this matter?.....Well, we know for an absolute fact that the good Mr. Kinsella, a fine, fine fellow who once worked on Mr. Gordon Campbell's election campaigns and who is currently working on the BC Liberal Leadership campaign of Ms. Christy Clark, worked for BC Rail at the time in question.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Did Erik Bornman(n) Ever Register To Lobby Christy Clark For OmniTRAX?


That is a question that some folks, especially those who may have been reading the good Mr. Alex Tsakumis lately, may be asking themselves these days.


To the best of our knowledge Mr. Bornman(n) did not register to do any such a thing during the period in (apparent) question.


How do we know this?

Well, it turns out that we had the foresight (and/or were, as a member of that whacky group of cultists, 'crazy' enough) to take screen shots of the old Lobbyist Registry pages before they were disappeared.

Here is the money shot in question.


And here, for those interested in ancient, if as-yet unresolved, history that actually matters, is the original post from whence that screenshot came.
Oh, and for those that are really interested, we have a screenshot of all those fine folks that Mr. Kieran registered to lobby too, here.....The original post where that shot appeared can be found here.....


And As Predicted In The Comments....


The pro-pundit Wurlitzering of the 'Nettleton Letter', in the form of a pick-up from the Dean himself, has begun!

Liberal leadership Christy Clark has picked up a significant endorsement from former MLA Paul Nettleton, a Liberal-turned-independent who was one of the harshest critics of the decision to sell government-owned B.C. Rail.

Nettleton also supported Clark’s inisistence that there is no need for a public inquiry into B.C. Rail, saying that it is time for the province to “move forward and put the B.C. Rail matter behind us.”

A lawyer and former two term MLA from Prince George Nettleton now lives in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island.

He laid out his endorsement of Clark in a letter to the editor published Sunday in the Victoria Times Colonist Sunday.....

Which, of course, is what the jockeys riding Ms. Clark's 'Candidacy of Joy' really wanted in first place.


And yes, the reference to the doomed candidacy of the hyper-endorsed Hubert 'I Am The Eggman' Humphrey, was wholly intended.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Paul Nettleton Backs Clark, Opposes BC Rail Inquiry


Last week I suggested that lawyer and former Liberal MLA Paul Nettleton would be a fantastic person to head a public inquiry into the BC Rail sale.

Of course, given that I understand the concepts of BOTH conflict of interest and real politick, I was only half serious.

Regardless, Paul Willcocks left a message in the comments suggesting that Mr. Nettleton was actually against such an inquiry.

I am going to reprint the letter here, in its entirety, given its public importance and will then comment below:

I have opposed the sale of B.C. Rail and the subsequent handling of this important file by the Campbell administration over many years. As Liberal critic, I opposed the sale of B.C. Rail and called upon my Liberal colleagues to commit to protecting B.C. Rail employees and their families, northern communities and British Columbians.

As an independent MLA from 2002 to 2005, I marched in Prince George rallies protesting the sale of B.C. Rail with scores of concerned citizens. I stood at the head of these groups and shared the podium speaking with heartfelt passion and concern about the B.C. Rail issue.

More recently, as a private citizen and as a lawyer, I have continued to follow the B.C. Rail issue in our courts in the hope that those responsible would be exposed and brought to justice. I share the concerns that many questions remain unanswered.

Where, then, should we go from here?

I support the position of Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark, who has rejected the call for a public inquiry, insisting that we move forward and put the B.C. Rail matter behind us.

I have worked closely with Clark over a number of years and have confidence in her integrity, on this and other issues. I also believe that Clark would ensure that her administration provides openness, transparency and honesty.

Paul R. Nettleton


Read more:


In real life job I am a reductionist who takes things apart to try and have a look at what really makes them tick.

So, let's take Mr. Nettleton's letter apart, shall we.....

First - Have a look at the first three paragraphs wherein Mr. Nettleton lays out his bonafides as someone who has always opposed the sale of the public railway, who worked with citizens against the sale when the deal went down, and who still has concerns that many questions remain regarding whether or not all responsible have been 'exposed and brought to justice'.

So, given all that, why doesn't Mr. Nettleton want an inquiry?

Well, based on the last three paragraphs of the letter, it all comes down to Ms. Clark and her integrity, which Mr. Nettleton concludes will lead to a future administration of openness, transparency and honesty.

And, for me at least, therein lies the rub.


Because, the fact of the matter is that the very same people who are riding Ms. Clark in her candidacy for the leadership of the Liberal Party of British Columbia are pretty much exactly the same people that rode Mr. Campbell to power.

Furthermore, some of those people are the very same people who helped Mr. Campbell sell the formerly public Railway to people that helped bankroll Mr. Campbell's elevation to power.

Thus, in my opinion Mr. Nettleton is flat-out wrong.

Not because Ms. Clark herself may or may not have the utmost personal integrity.

But rather because there is no evidence, at least in my opinion, that her 'administration' would be any different, in terms of how it is actually run, than the administration of her predecessor Mr. Gordon Campbell.


*Or, as our good friend Mary noted off-line "Knock Me Over With A Feather" Day....
And, try as he might to cleave her off of Mr. Campbell's horsey hide, David Anderson (speaking on Public Eye Radio this morning) cannot magically wave away the fact that Ms. Clark is being ridden by exactly the same jockeys...


Friday, December 24, 2010

In A World Where Middlemen Rule....


....There is no room for fully funding silly things like public schools and their sillier boards.

Norman Farrell, following up on Laila and NVG's fine work on the Shadow Tolling of everything (Roll On Kevvie....Roll On), has the story:

....(S)hadow tolls are well understood by money people as evidenced by this recent publication issued by the Boston office of RBC Global Asset Management (of course, the initials stand for Royal Bank of Canada). It discusses the appeal of very low risk, long term investments to institutional investors who seek assets to match their long term liabilities and talks of different repayment methods.
"Shadow tolls – With a shadow toll, the government makes a payment to the investor at a rate based on the number of cars travelled, but there is no physical toll booth on the road. Motorists avoid congestion, and there is no collection cost of operating the booth. Often the government funds the payment through fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees or other charges not directly based on who actually uses the road. In some cases, the government is willing to provide a floor of how much it will pay, so there are characteristics similar to an availability payment and revenue, therefore, is not purely driven by the number of cars."
Of course, this is exactly the kind of investing in infrastructure that institutions have always done. Government bonds, largely sold to institutional investors, funded projects including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and other capital work that served the public over long terms. Government employed its own professional staff who supervising capital projects, arranged construction through competitive bidding by private contractors and financed the projects through direct government debt.

The difference today is the insertion of a layer of private matchmakers and dealmakers. Their main skill is in gaining influence over decision makers, convincing them to discard competitive bidding in return for the RFPs (Requests for Proposals), followed by negotiated design-build contracts. Whether a project is a formalized Public Private Partnership or an extended term operating agreement, government takes almost all risk and financing sits ultimately in the hands of long term investors.

Costs of projects rise of course so that dealmakers, who no longer work for government, take their profits out early. Political operators get rewarded financially. Public information about deals and details is minimized because of 'privacy concerns' for private companies....

Shadow tolls?

More like killer Zombie Tolls designed to walk amongst us while they inexorably suck the life out of you and yours as they strip-mine us of everything we hold dear.


And where are the proMedia mavens on this one?....Well, when Laila first broke this story with irrefutable, in-depth reportage, a number of folks in the Lotuslandian Bloggodome tried to engage the mavens but it barely made a ripple despite the fact that Mark Hume in The Globe briefly gave it the imprimatur of proMedia legitimacy....I did hear back from a couple of folks in the know and was told it was old news...nothing new....everybody knows about was all part of the deal from the beginning...You do 'know' the deal, right?....Meanwhile....If a bunch of people are stranded at airports because of snow for a little while....In winter?!!!....Well.....You will hear about that on every single goldarned newscast on every single goldarned news outlet, public or otherwise, for 36 hours straight until....Poof....the story disappears down the rabbit hole completely....with nary a whisper about how none of it really mattered to anyone at all because, after all, nothing from nothing really is nothing....You know....the more I think about it, the more I think Mr. Beer 'N Hockey just might be onto something...

Oh, and by the way.....It's Christmas Eve and the PAB Bots appear to have the day off....Or, perhaps, they are already in their cups because there has not been one single visitor from the domain today....Now, compare that to yesterday when the monitoring was set on something approaching infinity....I guess even the government Scrooge lets them off the hook once a year....Or....Does it just have something to do with the fact that Marty is now off on the hustings shucking and jiving for the folks from Sandals Jamaica?....Who really knows with this bunch given that the last man standing appears to be....And this I cannot believe this given this....John Les...


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nowhere To Run To Baby....Nowhere To Hide

Press Queries About The BC Rail 'Problem' Catch Up To Christy Clark In Cowboy Country


To be more specific, Merritt.

This time it's Dean Morrison, in the Merritt Herald, that turns away from the rest of the proMedia herd*:

Christy Clark has come out of the gate running, with polling putting her clearly in front of other B.C. Liberal contenders for the coveted position of Premier of our province.

Unfortunately for Clark the B.C. Rail problem is not going away.....

{snippety doodle-dandy}

...For a party heralding itself on making B.C. safe for investment once again, I have to wonder how any potential investors in government projects truly feel about putting in costly and time consuming bids if it is perceived to be all for show — the investor with the heaviest suitcase full of money or closest ties having already secured the contracts.

For Clark it is in her best interests to state repeatedly that justice has been served and the only people still concerned are crack-pots and political rivals but maybe this just goes to show how politically out of touch she really is as she reaches for that brass ring.....


A few days ago I wondered aloud if Ms. Clark's strate(r)gy to run for the hills and court a more compliant regional press would buy her the time needed for all this unpleasantness to blow over.

Clearly, it looks like that most progressive of pundit-avoidance ploys may be back-firing.

Which, in my opinion at least, is a good thing.

*By my count that brings the number of renegade proMedia runners to three....Mr. Willcocks in the V-TC....Mr. Smyth in The Province..... and now Mr. Morrison in the MHerald....I guess it just goes to show that when the Dean's away the herd really may stray....

Meanwhile, over at Mr. Tsakumis' place, where the proprietor has now taken to comparing himself to Woodstein and his source(s) to Mark Felt, there is a new set of 'Memos' up. ..... As I noted previously, Mr. T. has presented a reasonable body of evidence to suggest that the memos may have been written by Mr. David Basi himself....I also noted, however, that, regardless, one must be very careful to consider Mr. Basi's ability, or, more to the point, lack thereof, to act as a reliable narrator of his own story....There is also the issue of how little was actually really new in the initial batch of memos despite the voluminous, not to mention vociferous, commentary that the good Mr. Tsakumis provided alongside them .....However, in the Memo #7 (or the third of the latest 'release') there is something interesting and potentially new, which is the issue of how important the 'tax pools' appear to have been to everyone involved back in the Fall of 2003....Why is this, if true, interesting and new?....Well, it would move the timeline on what we previously dubbed the 'Tax Credit Default Swap' crisis up by about six months.....Ultimately, this became the insurance policy that CN Rail took out when it 'bought' the old BC Rail's (in our opinion mostly bogus) 'debt' as a tax dodge. The insurance, which we the people of BC provided at inflated interest rates, was apparently critical for getting the deal nailed down when it was jeopardized at the last minute when then [and still!] Premier Gordon Campbell suddenly started insisting, for political reasons in the public prints, that the deal was a lease and not a sale ( the point of the insurance being that the Feds might not grant CN a tax write-off on the debt if CN did not actually 'own' it)....Given all that, it is important to realize that CN Rail still holds that insurance policy, and that it has grown in size, at compounded interest, ever since the deal was sealed in the summer of 2004. As a result, we the people of British Columbia (ie. not Mr. Campbell or his cronies), are currently potentially on the hook for all of it, to the tune of more than $600 million dollars.....All of which has us wondering.....Why the heckfire is no one talking about that bit of fiscal (ir)responsibility?...And of course, some of us are also wondering who brokered that insurance deal and strapped those egregious usurious interest rates on our (ie. not their) backs?

Oh, and given the header to this post, we would be remiss if we didn't point you back towards.....this.


LibCon Clowns To The Left Of Him...FedCon Jokers To The Right...

....Stuck In The Middle With George?

Here's Jeff Nagel's lede in the Cloverdale Reporter on the latest from the Joker Alliance:

Public safety minister Rich Coleman – for a time considered the best organized contender for the B.C. Liberal leadership – is now backing former health minister Kevin Falcon's bid.

"We need a leader that is going to be able to keep their eye on the ball fiscally, with regards to the budget of the government, but more importantly on the creation of jobs and making sure our tax system is competitive," Coleman told reporters in downtown Vancouver with Falcon Wednesday morning......

But can Mr. Abbott win?

And no, we are not talking about the Leadership race.

And does this, perhaps, explain why the 2nd Progressive Principal is riding Horse 1A?
Oh, and for the record, it is not the Beatles....In fact, the name of Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan's old band is way more context-appropriate than even something like the (not-so)FabFour (although, to be fair, Ms. Stillwell is no Yoko).


Flipping The Sea To Sky...Who's Sorry Now?



That's right.

The private company that we fronted a big whack-o-cash to so that they could then take even more of our money to pay for the Condo Queens and Tatty'd WestsidePunks* driving their German SUV's to and from Apres-Ski on our dime has just flipped out the Sea-To-Sky concession to a whole new set of money-makers.

And, unlike the Lotuslandian proMedia herd (see crickets chirping, here), local hard-rock miners of publically available and (way better than Wiki) leaked documents Laila Yuile and NVG have this one nailed to the wall.

*The East to West and the Gender Flipping of Dan Mangan's killer tune about 'Indie Queens and Tatty'd Eastside Punks' was entirely intentional.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Was The 'Fight-The-HST' Strate(r)gy Just Reborn?



Updates X2: At bottom of post

Why yes, it appears that it just may have been.

And here it is, straight from the man behind the almost transparent curtain, Mr. Bill Tieleman, in the pixels of 'The Tyee':

"The government has decided they're not going to call a public inquiry into it. As far as I'm concerned, it's case closed." -- Christy Clark, Dec. 13, on the B.C. Legislature Raid case

Not so fast Christy -- the BC Rail corruption trial scandal train has not yet left the station, no matter how much you want to see it get out of town.

The surprise guilty pleas of David Basi and Bob Virk in October and the BC Liberal government's quick decision to not only authorize paying their former ministerial aides' $6 million legal bills but also to reject calls for a public inquiry is simply outrageous.

That's why I've created a new Facebook page -- Basi-Virk Public Inquiry -- to give British Columbians who want to know what really happened in the $1-billion privatization of BC Rail a chance to express their opinions......


Here's the thing.......

Who will be the fairy Godfather (or Godmother) that will get this one going by sprinkling just enough pixie-dust on the proMedia herd to make them get up and dance?


Maybe it could be a 'Bill and Lill' tag team!

Personally, if anybody was going to be fronted to do this, and do it right, for all the right reasons, I would (and there is no snark here) like it to be Paul Nettleton.....
Oh, and one other thing....For those who like to take swipes at our good and dear friend Mary for being nothing more than a 'cut-and-paster', especially those who are content to suddenly trumpet-the-crap out of stuff that just falls into their lap because it may help their political friends and/or influence their proMedia uncles, please realize that, in addition to fostering tremendous goodwill over many years, Mary has also assembled a fantastic archive of RailGate-related material that includes the exclusively-obtained letter from Mr. Nettleton linked-to above .....Why do I fuss about this?.....Well, because, in my opinion, that letter is a million times more powerful and important than the self-serving scribblings, notarized or otherwise, of a politically-appointed apparatchik on the take....OK?
Wednesday morning update: Hold the phone....While we have not yet confirmed it from either a second source or the horse's mouth, Paul Willcocks, who has never steered us wrong in the past, tells us in the comments that Mr. Nettleton may be supporting CClark and her stand that an inquiry is not needed....Follow-up to follow, if followuppable....
Boxing Day "Knock Us Over With A Feather" Update: Mr. Nettleton, as Paul suggested, is most definitely with Ms. Clark and against an inquiry.


Monday, December 20, 2010

And The Zeitgeist Smiled And Said It Was Good...


Together on the same mutally agreed-to, non-destructive, but highly instructive, sidebars.

Would'a thunk it?


If Sean Holman were to add these guys to a brand spanking-new (really, really) rabble-rousing panel with, maybe this guy thrown in the middle to mediate, I'd double my subscription like, yesterday.

And, despite the fact that the newfangled 'r,r,r-r panel' will not likely happen anytime soon for all kinds of reasons, including the fact that the ghost of Clare Copeland would likely break into the CFAX studios and threaten to burn the place to the ground if somebody didn't pull the plug in favour of a whole lot more Bing b/w The Chairman of the Board, well.....That is no reason not start sending Mr. Holman money (for reasons that have been clear from today's earlier posts) immediately....OK?
And by the way....The linked-to post about the late, great Mr. Copeland is from Tom Hawthorn's fine blog that archives all his Globe pieces and has a little bit more....Mr. Hawthorn is also one of the few local scribes who has, at least in my opinion, a Twit-Feed worth following because he is a bit of a polymath like Mess'rs Beer and Willcocks mentioned above....Heckfire!...Perhaps T. Hawthorn himself can ride with the New Rabble-Rousers of the Purple Sage also....


Why Did The 'Reasonable' BC Liberal Leadership Candidate Hire Avowed Tricksters?


The company behind Rob Ford's successful Toronto mayoral campaign is now working on George Abbott's leadership bid, Public Eye has learned. Campaign Research Inc. - which, until recently, included Mr. Ford's now chief of staff Nick Kouvalis - designed the mayoral candidate's campaign plan and was responsible for his voter contact operation.....

".....(Nick) Kouvalis’ value to Team Ford is indisputable. He is, after all, the genius who tested the term “gravy train” on focus groups before writing it into Ford’s speeches.

His post-election boastings on how he tricked John Tory out of joining the mayor’s race left other political spin doctors shaking their heads. But like him or not, Kouvalis is one of the only people able to dictate terms to Mayor Ford and his councillor brother Doug.

The political strategist worked on Frank Klees and Christine Elliot’s failed leadership bids for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in 2004 and 2009 respectively.

He is the same aggressive campaigner who was charged in July 2005 with uttering a death threat after allegedly telling campaign workers that he would kill Essex MP Jeff Watson with his bare hands if he thought he could get away with it.

A Windsor judge later acquitted Kouvalis, saying there wasn’t enough evidence he actually meant what he said....

Brett Popperwill, Toronto Star, Dec 10, 2010

And while we're on the subject (and done sifting through the invaluable Public Record/Racing Form fodder that is Public Eye's archives one more time).....Why is it, exactly, that two of Progressive's principals are riding BC FedLib Liberal Leadership Horses 1 and 1A?


Do The Latest Revelations From Spiderman Make The Cost Of....

....Strategic Advice For BC Rail Look Like Chump Change?


March 12, 2009

I can confirm that Patrick Kinsella's company was retained by BC Rail for a 49 month period between August 2001 and September 2005 to provide strategic advice to our new President, Board of Directors and Chair.

The counsel provided was specific to the Core Review process which Government was undertaking during that period, and general business communication advice.

The value of the contract was $6000.00 per month for 49 months.

John Lusney

A key Crown witness in the Basi-Virk case said his lobbying firm was paid up to $10,000 a month by OmniTrax, a losing bidder in the scandal-plagued sale of B.C. Rail, court transcripts that were released Friday reveal.

Under cross-examination at a preliminary hearing in Victoria in January 2009, Eric Bornman was asked by a lawyer for accused Dave Basi about the income earned by the lobbying firm Pilothouse Public Affairs.

Bornman said Pilothouse was at first paid $6,000 a month by Denver-based OmniTrax, escalating to $10,000 a month between May 2002 and November 2003, when B.C. Rail was sold to CN for $1 billion.....

Would'a thunk it?

Meanwhile, there is no word (yet?) as to how, or even if, the alleged $10K per month was divvied-up by the Pilothouse Principals and/or
Sgt. Schultz.

And just in case you missed it, Mr. T (he of B., not of A.) has gone all social on the network again...
Update: Lunchtime Monday....For some strange reason the original KFraser story has disappeared itself(?) from The Province's website...Here is a link to the Postmedia wurlitzerization which is still available at the VSun....


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sometimes On A Saturday Morning....


...You Just Need A Little Dose Of John Darnielle

And while we do not have a Mills Avenue 'round here, I think I'm going to head off this morning and try to find one.

(before I have to pick up littler e. from her sleepover)

Sunday morning, post-Mills Avenue update: My response to Paul's exortation can be found here.....There is another bit of the story however, that even Mr. Darnielle, I'm pretty sure, can't match coming soon. And yes Mary, it involves Bigger E.....Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and strum the new, black Takamine that just made its way into our house....


Saturday, December 18, 2010

On A Sleet-Laden Saturday Night...

....All you need is HST's Top 10 of all times.

It would appear that, in the current time and place we live in, #2, from 'The Great Shark Hunt' is especially appropo of something way more than nothing:

"In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile—and the rest of us are f*cked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep."


And thanks (I think) to the reverand paperboy and scrujk for getting me going on this one....And yes, that photo is from the late '50's, a time when Thompson wasn't quite good enough for the VSun...Ha!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Who Needs Hardball At Home When You Can Hit The Road For Slowpitch


How else to explain why Christy Clark has suddenly disappeared from the bright lights and big cities and is now spending all of her time heading to every corner of the province so that she can be put through the ringer by the tough-as-nails, ink-stained wretches like those who ply their trade at, say, the Nelson Star:

Christy Clark said Thursday it’s no accident she’s the first Liberal leadership hopeful to touch down in West Kootenay.

“I’m travelling to every region of the province as quickly as I can, so I can come back again before the leadership [vote] is held,” she said during a meet-and-greet with local party supporters at the Hume Hotel.....

No accident, indeed.



I wonder if she's planning to do any of that far-flung travelling by rail?

You know, kind of like Big Ed Muskie did oh-so-successfully during the liberal...errrr...Democratic party leadership campaign, lo those many years ago.

What's that you say?

Passenger rail service to far flung regions of the province of British Columbia was gutted by the government that Christy Clark used to be a part of, starting back in 2002, in advance of the big BC Rail long, long, long longterm lease-off deal to CN Rail and the subsequent limited-reach tourist-train deal that the latter fine folks did with Rocky Mountain?

And by the way, there is absolutely no truth to the completely unsubstantiated and unfounded whispers that a slightly cynical, but still jovial, local Boo-Hoo was spotted sitting at the end of the bar at the Hume Hotel long after the candidate had left town muttering something under his breath that may or may not have had something to do with a long forgotten problem that the professional bright-lighted and big-citified pro-pundits once had with something called the "Ibogaine Effect".....Even more unsubstantiated is the totally ridiculous rumour that some folks in Nelson, ink-stained or otherwise, might themselves have personal knowledge of said effect.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mike Smyth Demonstrates His New Job Has Not Muzzled Him


Michael Smyth is the permanent replacement for the old Christy Clark talk-radio slot, weekday afternoons on CKNW.

Some, myself included, wondered if this might make it difficult for Mr. Smyth to raise issues that are critical of Ms. Clark.

Well, today, in his column in The Province, Mr. Smyth demonstrated that he is willing to at least do a little of the heavy lifting, and even went so far as to suggest that Ms. Clark, and, by implication, her BC Liberal Leaderhsip Campaign, has not been able to successfully distance herself from the lingering BC Rail scandal:

"....Although Clark herself has not been formally accused or directly implicated in any wrongdoing, her brother, consultant Bruce Clark, has been mentioned prominently in court documents, including search warrants released this week.

Police found confidential government documents in Bruce Clark's home during their investigation.

Christy Clark's ex-husband, Liberal organizer Mark Marissen, was also mentioned in the case. During the investigation, Marissen was visited by police, who gave him a letter saying he was not implicated but may have been the innocent recipient of key documents.

Clark herself may very well have been called to testify at the trial, judging by statements made by defence lawyers during pre-trial wranglin. g. (sic)

I have no doubt Christy Clark and the rest of the cast of characters in the affair breathed a huge sigh of relief when Basi and Virk entered surprise guilty pleas in October's controversial plea bargain, in which the government agreed to pay the pair's $6-million legal bill..."


In an interesting display of how things work (or not) in the Lotuslandian proMedia, it would appear that, on the face of it at least, the impetus for the column was not breaking news or new developments in the case, but rather the fact that the Opposition, in the form of Justice critic Leonard Krog, made a fuss about the matter.

Just one more of those things that kind of make you go hmmmmmmmm....


RailGate Total Recall....How Reliable Are The 'Memos To File'?



Wednesday Afternoon Update: At the bottom of the post
Thursday Morning Double-Secret Probation Update: At the most bottomless pit of the post

Alex Tsakumis has started to publish a series of 'Memos To File' which he says were authored by Mr. David Basi between Oct 6, 2003 to Nov 25, 2003 (ie. the period of the run-up to, and the immediate aftermath of, the leasing of BC Rail for 990 years to CN Rail).

Here is what Mr. Tsakumis had to say about the series as pre-amble to his publishing of the first 'Memo' exclusively on his blog yesterday:

"...What you will read is the clearest record we have thus far of how to two key government operatives, Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, it could not have been more clear: The BC Liberal government were running a heavily skewed process whereby BC Rail, an asset that we were promised by Gordon Campbell would never be disposed of, was being sold (990 year lease)...."

The following is a short excerpt from the first 'Memo', dated October 6th, 2003, which very much indicates that, in his own mind at least, the author was working on all aspects of the BC Rail file, both internal and external, at the behest of his political master (ie. the unnamed 'Minister'):

"....The Minister wants me to work closely with Bob Virk to support him with whatever he needs and to use every ounce of political skill I have to keep this egg from cracking. He wants me to leverage every relationship I have with the various players and their representatives for this purpose....."

Now, that is potentially very powerful stuff from a single, if self-interested, source.

Further, it is my opinion that Mr. Tsakumis makes a compelling case, and provides evidence in the form of a reputable lawyer's signed witnessing and notarizing of the memos, that they may have actually been written by Mr. Basi.

And I'm sure they will make for most interesting reading over the days to come as Mr. Tsakumis roles them out in a series.

Interesting, for all sorts of reasons, including, perhaps, because, as Mr. Tsakumis suggests, they could have serious implications for the BC Liberal Party Leadership candidates as the race moves forward if, and dare I suggest it, only if, they can be verified by a second independent source, or sources.


Even if they were, indeed, written by Mr. Basi and their major relevations can be confirmed independently, I believe that it is important to ask yourself the following question as you read the memos.

Which is the following.....

Is Mr. Basi a reliable narrator - even of his own memos?

For example, here is the RCMP summary of a wiretapped phone conversation that took place between Mr. Erik Bornman the former lobbyist who has admitted to bribing Mr. David Basi, via payments to the latter's cousin, Mr. Aneal Basi. Importantly, this conversation apparently took place on December 9th, 2003, which was two weeks after the BC Rail mainline deal with CN Rail went down:

"....The telephone call was between Dave BASI and Erik BORNMAN. They discuss Aneal BASI. BASI asks "Aneal's thing'll be starting up again this month, right?" BORNMAN says that "we were gonna have a chat about that, right?" BORNMAN says that "he hasn't forgotten" and that BASI "shouldn't feel bad about reminding him". BASI says "hopefully the reminders will get bigger and bigger in the future" to which BORNMAN replies "yes, um"......


The above is a police summary of a wiretapped conversation they say took place on Dec 9th, 2003 (it can be found under point #33, part b., in Warrant #1, here) and it took place AFTER the BC Rail deal with CN Rail was announced publicly on Nov 24th, 2003.


What Minister, pray tell, was still telling Mr. Basi to "leverage every relationship" he had with "various players and their representatives" for what purpose after the deal had, at least based on what we have been told (eg. see the agreed 'Statement of Facts' from the plea deal that abruptly ended the trial) already gone down?

And seek non-governmental compensation for said leveraging?

Update, Wednesday Dec 15th, 4pm: Mr. Tsakumis has just published Memo #2 in which the author alleges that he was told, explicitly, by the unamed 'Minister' that it would be OK to pass along the BC Rail Roberts Bank 'Port Subdivision Request For Proposals' to outside interests....Importantly, an admission that this document (without any admission or allegation of ministerial blessings) was passed to Mr. Bruce Clark was included in the 'Statement of Facts' (see point #13, part a., here) that were part of the recent plea deal struck between Mr. David Basi and Mr. Robert Virk and the Special Prosecutor Mr. William Berardino (and blessed by both the Attorney General's office and the Finance Ministry) that suddenly ended the Railgate trial in October of this year before any former Ministers of the government of Mr. Gordon Campbell could testify under oath, with cross-examination.....

And, just in case you were wondering....Yes, the good Mr. Tsakumis is still taking shots at fellow(?) bloggers for being lazy, dupes, or worse...

Double-Secret Probation Update, Thursday Dec 16th: This post has been edited in an effort to ensure that any specific claims against specific named actors made at other websites that have not been verified independently have not been wurlitzered here....OK?...As for Bob Mackin and the fine folks running 24 Hrs....Well, it would appear that, either they have independent verification or, they are not quite as careful as a lowly F-Troop list blogger...