Thursday, January 10, 2008

Confirming A Communication.....


In our last post we noted a textual difference between a column by Paul Willcocks that was originally published in the Victoria Times Colonist and a post reprinting that column on Mr. Willcocks' personal website.

The title of the column was 'More delays ahead in the Basi-Virk case' and it was a most interesting read on a whole lot of levels.

The 'difference' we noted was a paragraph that was present in the Times-Colonist column but absent in the reprinted post on Mr. Willcocks' website.

The paragraph came at the end of a passage about a report of the Basi-Virk pre-trial hearings that was written by a British Columbia government information officer. This report was later obtained by reporter Bill Tieleman via a freedom information request. When Mr. Tieleman received the report there were a number of redactions.

Here is what Mr. Willcocks had to say about those redactions in his Times Colonist column:

And the documents Tieleman got were censored, with sections whited out. If taxpayers are paying for a government worker to report the trial, surely they have a right to the information.

However, in the reposted column on his website, Mr. Willcocks did not include this short paragraph. Given that the paragraph is, in my opinion at least, pretty powerful, I noted the difference in my own post:

The reprinting of Mr. Willcocks' column
on his personal website did not include the important bolded paragraph.
It would be interesting to know if this was just a coincidence (or not).

Which led to the following posting in the comment threads:

No coincidence in terms of the excision. A government communications person I respect called after the column ran in the papers and said the portions whited out were brief and dealt only with matters unrelated to the Basi-Virk trial. Since I hadn't seen the documents — and since it was the least significant aspect of the story — I edited it our before I posted the column.

When I received this comment, I thought it was very likely from Mr. Willcocks, but I wasn't absolutely certain.

Thus, I contacted him directly by Email.

He graciously responded and confirmed that he did, indeed, make the comment.

So, there you have it.......

Or, to be more precise, there you have the 'just the facts ma'am' part of the story.

I'll give you my opinion, once I've had a chance to do a little hunting around and to think about it a bit more, later.



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