Monday, March 14, 2016

This Day In RailGate History...It's Before The Courts!


Interesting bit on one of my least favourite MoCo Weekend programs, 'The 180', yesterday resulted in this summary:

Consider this statement: "This matter is before the courts and I'm not going to comment on the specifics of the proceedings." It's the type of thing politicians tell journalists, and other politicians, saying they can't answer a question, because the issue is before the courts.

But Lorne Sossin, the Dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, says that while keeping your mouth shut during a trial might often be a good idea, it is not the get-out-of-jail free card that politicians seem to think it is.

"I'm often struck by how rarely journalists ask the follow-up question, 'What about the matter before the courts could constrain you from asking the question I've asked?', or at least get an elaboration on the scope in which a politician can answer questions."....


I remember one particular  'It's Before The Courts!' day in RailGate history (circa 2009), like it was only yesterday...


First, from our Hansard-assisted report of what went down in the Ledge in which the good Mr. Oppal went full-on Stonewally and refused to respond to absolutely anything about everything, including (surprise kids!) BC Hydro, because of the then still pending BC Rail Trial:

J. Horgan: Well, let's try a privatization scheme that's not yet before the courts. In 2003 Patrick Kinsella's organization, according to their own resumé, did the following: "Did a survey of the landscape and interviewed a number of stakeholders in the British Columbia government and B.C. Crown corporations and determined that the best opportunity for Accenture was B.C. Hydro."

Now, the minister of defence took this question on notice last week. So I'm hopeful that the Minister of Energy has been prepared for this, and he's able to stand in this place today and advise this House what role Mr. Kinsella, what role Mr. Martyn Brown from the Premier's office, had in the privatization to Accenture. 

Hon. W. Oppal: Those questions I expect will be answered by (RailGate's then presiding judge) Madam Justice Bennett


Mr. Speaker: Member has a supplemental.

J. Horgan: It's curious to me how the Attorney General can stand in this place and tell us that B.C. Hydro is now before the courts...

And second, two minutes of absolute gold captured by a camera wielded by none other than the then proprietor of Public Eye, the now professor Sean Holman, just outside the Ledge chamber (please note how all of the proMedia members concerned actually really do the real thing, which is one of the reasons I found it so memorable):

Imagine that!



Anonymous said...

Solar eclipse til may 2017?

Norm Farrell said...

I suspect Sean Holman's dedication to real journalism sometimes shamed his press gallery colleagues into action. Holman was innovative, energetic and objective and those qualities are in short supply today.

I've heard that old hands in the Press Gallery discourage less experienced people from innovation and creative inquiry. They've previously tried to ridicule people outside their ranks who are giving the public alternative views of public affairs.

The attitudes are not too surprising if one listens to the Canadaland program 'Second Class Journalists' where there's a discussion of how the Ontario Press Gallery denies access to a fellow journalist on dubious grounds. There are other similar cases.

American communication professors Peters and Tandoc published a 2013 paper that examined modern forms of journalism and suggested a new description. They concluded:
"It would be unwise to adopt a definition that excluded unpaid bloggers and citizen journalists who gather, process, and disseminate news and information on matters of public concern."

The Canadian media is evolving toward a model that will see less public interest journalism and more hired advocacy posing as news coverage. Dinosaurs in the BC Press Gallery once lived comfortably on the direct proceeds of their work; now they're on the prowl for speaking and "consulting" fees and whatever supplements that can be devised. None of those activities, they would tell us if they spoke about the subject, would affect their work as journalists.

It was unfortunate for BC citizens that Mr. Holman moved on although I'm sure it was good news for future journalists being trained in Calgary.

RossK said...


I'm not seeing/getting that one - sorry.



Interesting point re: potential peer pressure.

I think it is also important to remember that Mr. Mason's arrival on the scene led to a little healthy competition at the time (and it was he who actually wrote about a potential playing of both sides against the middle that no one else would touch).

It is really interesting what is happening to that young kid at Queen's Park given that she is, essentially, doing what Sean did here with a subscription model and everything.

Bizarrely, after she got going the TorStar swept in and started up their own similar enterprise which really, really, really stinks.

For anybody interested, here's the link to the Canadaland story Norm referred to.


cfvua said...

Hello. I agree with you on the great work that Mr Holman did at the time and indeed he probably embarrassed a few of the club members into doing a bit of work although not all they could have. Interesting to know what part of the back channel the chief back channeller pattiK is trolling around these days, searching for "opportunities".
Up in the great gas fields all of our politicians are tied up writing speeches for a "truck rally" event on Wednesday. Seems a bit fruitless when one considers that there are facilities that have all their permits in place but the proponents are choosing not to go ahead at this time. Looks like a bit of a diversion to cast blame on the pesky new government of Trudeau Jr. When in actuality it is corporations who can see there is no gold at the end of the rainbow who aren't spending. As is the way.

e.a.f. said...

read the Canadaland story! Like what happened to Freedom of the press? When did the press get to start restricting what constituted "press", who could "join""; who would be excluded.

Its a public building, paid for by the public. Anyone who says, they are press ought to be permitted into that gallery. It isn't up to those already in the game to force others out of the game or to prevent them from joining the game. That isn't how Freedom of the Press game is played.

its like something out of Russia, the Putin approved press gets to keep you those not approved by Putin. Not a good thing to have happen in Canada.

Bloggers are part of the press, as a freelancers who report on things. What constitutes the press has changed over the centuries. its not static.

Must have led a sheltered life because I'd never heard of this type of thing.

Hugh said...

What a great idea, bring back passenger service on the former BC Rail line:

Lew said...

Interesting to hear Attorney General Wally Oppal talking about guarding jealously the integrity of the court during an ongoing trial. His immediate successor presided over a conspiracy to keep the trial judge in the dark about a secret plea deal that brought an end to that very same trial. Knowledge of the deal would have prevented the judge from accepting the guilty pleas ending the trial. His immediate predecessor publicly stated the government should be congratulated for that action.

Two of the journalists featured in the video have been asked repeatedly to inquire of Mr. Oppal whether he had any role whatsoever in that secret deal. They refuse to do so. I wonder if they’re afraid of getting another legal blowback pitch of the high and inside variety from Wally. Something sure backed them off the plate.

e.a.f. said...

ah, the B.C. Rail trial, its been so long and so short. Nothing has changed in this province and the voters of B.C. continued to re-elect the B.C. Lieberals. Now they're paying for it and will pay for a long time to come.

With the debt load this province carries, when the interest rates go back up, the province may have to declare bankruptcy. This debt load is going to be around for at least 35 years. I expect the interest rates to increase in approx. 10 years. By that time they may have reached 5% and then the race will be on. B.C. will be so indebt they won't be able to afford anything.

The younger voters of today, might want to give all that debt a thought. Lots of aging baby boomers will be dead, but the Generation Xs and millienials, will be paying for el gordo and Christy's reward for friends system.

Anonymous said...

I believe we will be in the shadow until May 2017 as that will be our next election. When the BC Liberals are booted out, the sun will shine.

Anonymous said...

public access week^google|twcamp^serp|twgr^author

Anonymous said...

“Statistics can be used to say anything.”   Numbers don’t lie – people do.

Anonymous said...

For an issue that is 'before-the-courts' the BC Liberal's elected mouthpieces sure do have much to say defending the party's rehiring of Laura Miller.

RossK said...


That is one heckuva point you've got there.