Tuesday, June 29, 2010

RailGate Roulette....You Make The Call



Double-Secret Probation Update, 2:00pm Tuesday: Marcella Bernardo of the (nolongerso)Giant'98 is reporting that it is game back on again for real given that the judge has made her ruling....Actually, I think that Ms. Bernardo just may have pushed the envelope a little on the PBan....Despite that we've just gotta wonder who looked happier leaving the courtroom....Billy or Mikey B?....

Update, 1:00pm Tuesday:
The rumours, innuendos and the proMedia were ALL wrong....Because there is no jury today....More legal wrangling and faux cattle rustling....Mr. Brown, however, is supposed to be on the stand tomorrow though....From the 'credit-where-credit-is-due' department, Neal Hall of the VSun has an interesting value-added tidbit, which is that the late starts this week (11:15am) are to accomodate a juror who is taking an apprenticeship course that starts at.....Get this!.....6:00am....Which, of course, is an extremely ironic juxtaposition to Supreme Court Officer's hours

Rumour, innuendo, and even a proMedia report or two, has it that the jury will actually be back in the RailGate courtroom today so that the cross-examination of Gordon Campbell's chief-of-staff Martyn Brown will finally resume once again.

When we last off, way, way back on June 17th the proceedings came to a screeching halt when, as Bill Tieleman noted:

When Brown was last on the witness stand lawyer Michael Bolton, representing David Basi, asked Brown if he knew that RCMP Inspector Kevin DeBruyckere was the brother-in-law of BC Liberal Party Executive Director Kellly Reichert.

Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino objected to that question before Brown could answer and the cross examination was suspended at that point.....


Why did Mr. Bolton ask such a question and why, indeed, did Mr. Berardino object so strenuously?


We figure you could, if you were so inclined, place your bets on a number of possible faaaaaantastical Fantasy-Gardenesque, PresqueVuvian-type options, based on presumably imaginary conversations that may (or may not) have ever taken place between the good Inspector and BC Liberal Party Exec. Director:

a) Mr. R. mentioned to Inspector DeB. that he really, really misses those whacky Radio NL days up in 'The Loops' when he could burst into Claude Richmond's constituency office at all hours of the day and night and ask him absolutely anything without being told to go FOI himself?

b) Inspector DeB. bragged to Mr. R. that the moniker 'Project Every Which Way' was actually all his idea?

c) Mr. R. asked Inspector DeB. if he had ever come across the long searched-for, but never found, 'Bud Smith Cell Phone Blooper-Reel Tapes' in the Horsemen's secret hiding place?

d) Both agreed, in low, secretive whispers, that they kinda/sorta wished that they had taken their shots as back-up singers with the Backstreet-B-Boys back in the day.....Especially on the tunes with all the high-falsettos and spin moves.

e) None of the above?

Place your bets!

(or feel free to offer up your own not-so plausible alternatives in The Comments....But please always remember that absolutely no pre-trial publication bans whatsoever can be harmed in any and all bouts of participatory snarkolepsy)


Monday, June 28, 2010

RailGate Cattle-Guard Rustle....All The Wrangling That Fits


Well whaddy'a know.

Keith Fraser of The Province is reporting that the jury has been sent home once again so that the lawyers can keep twirling their lariats while they play the new sensation that's sweeping the RailGate nation called 'Legal Wrangling'.


June 17th, the last day testimony under oath was heard, was so long ago that we've almost forgotten what it was that defense lawyer Michael Bolton asked Gordon Campbell's chief-of-staff Martyn Brown about that caused prosector Bill Berardino to jump up and shout 'objection' such that judge MacKenzie responded by taking away everybody's spurs for the duration.


Just what was it that Bolton asked Brown about?

Oh yes here it is.....

Mr. Bolton asked if Mr. Brown was aware of the "relationship" between a certain RCMP inspector named Kevin DeBruyckere, who was a key investigator in the case that led to the charges being laid against the RailGate accused, and the B.C. Liberal party's executive director Kelly Reichert, a fine fellow who works closely with, and presumably talks quite often with, Premier Gordon Campbell and his chief-of-staff on a myriad of matters.....


Why would Mr. Bolton bother?

I mean it's not as if such a "relationship" could possibly be important given the subject matter and the personalities and other relationships involved.....

Could it?

(rumour has it that there just might be be a pop-quiz regarding potential possibilities of putative importance later)


RailGate Damage Control...Are Bloggers Now Being Monitored?


Is something going on around here?

I mean, I've mentioned how my visits from the fine "gov.bc.ca" domain have skyrocketed since the real RailGate trial began.

But what I've really noticed are the comments.

Not so much here, although I have had a few doozies recently - including one attempted drive-by 'outing' of an Anon-O-Mouse.

But at other places like Mary's and, especially, Bill Tieleman's, it appears that newly vindictive commenters have taken to slagging folks for having informed opinions.

And only rarely do the vindictive ones, whose comments give off a certain slightly stale-dated aura of malodorousness, take on the opinions of others based on their merits or demerits.

Instead, more often than not the slightly-stinky slaggers attempt to shout down other commentors for being whiners and/or malcontents and/or total time wasters who aren't contributing anything to anybody because they don't know what they are talking about and/or because they are not 'breaking' any new news.


It's almost as if some person, or persons, (or member of a 'stakeholder group'?) has decided that the time has come to take newly concerned citizens out to the woodshed and 'rip them a new one' for their own good and/or to prevent them from joining a 'cult' of informed public opinion and discourse.

Or some such thing.

And don't think that the possibility of a total info-dom-driven "blogger stamp-out" strater(g)y in the grand tradition of the Luntzification of everything hasn't crossed my mind, especially given that fine bit of codswallop that was published on the VSun's editorial page on Friday.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

RailGate Renumerated......Follow The Money.


Yesterday, we posted-up a critique of a Vancouver Sun editorial that cautioned their readers to ignore their own headlines and simultaneously trust them (and, implicitly, only them) to deliver the goods on what really went down during RailGate.

In addition, the fine folks behind the Sun's pages that (allegedly) count also implored their readers to make like jurors and only come to conclusions on any and all RailGate matters related to the BC Liberal government if, and only if, it is explicitly presented as evidence in court.

But here's the thing....

I know for a fact that Ben Bradlee never wrote an editorial telling the Washington Post's readers to only pay attention to the evidence that was presented in court when the original Watergate burglers went on trial.

And I'm absolutely certain that Mr. Bradlee never told Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to ignore Deep Throat when he told them to "follow the money"....

Then again, I'm also pretty darned sure that Katherine Graham and the Washington Post did not give a big whack of cash to 'CREEP' to help re-elect Richard Nixon in 1972.

On the other hand, the publishers of the Vancouver Sun most definitely did.

Give a big whack of cash to the BC Liberal Party so that campaign co-chair and strategic communication counsel/public policy initiative interpreter for BC Rail, Mr. Patrick Kinsella, could help re-elect premier Gordon Campbell in 2005, I mean.


Thanks to Anon-At-The-Top-Of-The-Thread for the reminder.
Oh, and yes, just in case you were wondering, in addition to this, this and this, we have been doing a little more cash following recently, this time as it pertains to all manner of 'lobbying' , 'counseling', 'interpreting' and even 'piloting'....Stay tuned for more.
And finally, just to be absolutely clear.... All of the information found within links to this post is publically available and it was published and/or posted on-line completely separately from any and all Railgate pre-trial proceedings.....Thus, once again, no publication bans have been harmed in the writing of this post....


Friday, June 25, 2010

The VSun Goes Down On RailGate....And....We Who Cannot Be Named.



Final Edition Update @ 8:00pm: At bottom of post

In an editorial today, the Vancouver Sun goes into protection mode and, using the pre-trial publication ban as a shield, pretends that all that evidence that we (and they) knows exists doesn't:

This trial within a trial raises the stakes for readers and the media. Unlike a trial in which only the fate of the accused is at stake, the judgments made by readers and viewers on the basis of reports can have a material effect.

Readers are sitting in judgment of politicians, which means their perceptions of the evidence could affect the outcome of the next election. Since the trial began, the jurors have heard a lot of allegations from both the prosecution and the defence.....


The judge has cautioned the jury that they are to consider only the evidence of the witnesses, not the allegations made by lawyers, either in their statements or in questions.

We need to keep the same caution in mind as we follow the reports of this case. Journalists reporting from the court recognize they have a duty to attribute allegations so that the public can fairly assess whether they have any substance......

But, still, even if their journalists (and, presumably, their editors even more so) are careful NOT to actually go back and search for publically available evidence that was NOT released during pre-trial hearing (ie. stuff that, if it is factual, can be used by anyone to either support or refute something that a lawyer or a witness says - by way of example, see this), that does not mean that, apparently, the VSun (or it's corporate affiliates) might not infer, 'inadvertently' something misleading through their headlines.

Yes, you read that right, the Vancouver Sun is telling you that sometimes their own headlines might be potentially misleading. To wit:

....Because of the necessary brevity of headlines, it is not always clear from a headline alone whether the allegations being referred to are grounded in evidence or merely suppositions floated to elicit a response from a witness.

By itself, the phrase "court told" in a headline provides no context as to who was doing the telling or how much weight the allegation should be given.....

Hmmmmm.....I'm not entirely sure about that....After all, was it just an issue of 'brevity' that led to something as flat-out wrong as this, which was repeated over and over and over and over again by numerous VSun affiliated 'news' outlets?

And then, finally, of course, there is the obligatory almost/kinda/sorta swipe at those who must not be named.....Bloggers!

....People who read our reports will get the information they need to understand what qualifies as evidence as compared to allegations made by lawyers.....

Sure thing.

But, again, VSun Editors (and presumably their Bosses too that approve the wurlitzering of their stuff out to affiliates) need to realize that there is a thing called the public record.

And these days it is no longer hidden away in far-flung libraries and/or dusty newspaper morgues or even within the well-coiffed heads of the proMedia Pundocracy.

For example....

If somebody wanted to know, say, who was aware of the relationship between a certain RCMP inspector named Kevin DeBruyckere who was a key investigator in the case that led to the charges being laid against the RailGate accused, and, say, the B.C. Liberal party's executive director Kelly Reichert, a fine fellow who works closely with, and presumably talks quite often with, Premier Gordon Campbell on a myriad of matters.....


All they'd have to do is use t(e)h Google.

And/or type those two names into the search box at the top left corner of this page.



Citizen J. from Courtroom 54 has a very personal take on the editorial in question up at Mary's place.....I found the following couple of passages particularly insightful because they get right to the heart of the matter by making a comparison that, for once, has absolutely nothing whatsovever to do with Glen Clark's deck:

"......We (ie. the public gallery and the jury) have heard that the RCMP operated a full surveillance operation at a dinner meeting at Villa Del Lupo restaurant (that) former Finance Minister Gary Collins had with officials from Omnitrax on December 12, 2003. This dinner meeting occurred during the bidding process for the Roberts Bank rail line. This has never been disputed by the Special Prosecutor. Isn't that evidence?

Ironically, the front page in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesday wrote about CSIS officials making allegations regarding BC politicians under the control of foreign governments. I guess those allegations are worthy of reporting without any evidence because it makes for a great headline and will sell some papers....."


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Are There Mockingbirds In The RailGate Courtroom?


In case you missed it, some pretty weird stuff went down in the RailGate courtroom yesterday.

And now the rumours are flying all over the place.

Actually, a lot of it is something slightly more than rumour because a number of eyewitness reports from citizens that were in the courtroom have added considerable detail on top of the very cryptic proMedia reports.

Personally, I've now pretty much come to the conclusion that it was all, essentially, as innocent as Jem and Scout going to watch their Dad, Atticus, do his thing (only in reverse, of course).

The trouble is, we don't know, with certainty, that this really is the case.

And therein lies the rub.


Given that we have heard that the encounter between two jurors and a regular courtroom observer took place on a Skytrain platform miles and miles away from the courtroom....

And given that we've heard that those two jurors recognized the observer because he has been in the courtroom sitting in the same place directly behind the accused with considerable regularity.....

And given that the two jurors did not know who that observer was.....

And given that we've heard that those jurors raised the matter with the other jurors.....

And given that the jurors raised the issue with the sheriff who then brought it to the attention of the judge....

And given that the judge questioned the jurors about what was said during the enounter on the platform....

And given that the judge assured the jury that the observer was not associated with the defense....

And given that the observer, who is the father of one of the prosecutors, has agreed to no longer come to the courtroom....

And given that there was, apparently, another regular observer who is related to another of the prosecutors who is also no longer coming to the courtroom.....


You can see why some people are still talking about this.

A lot.

Which means that there is a perception problem here.

And that, I think, is something that the judge needs to deal with, particularly as it pertains to the sweeping nature of the publication ban.

Otherwise it is very possible that the populace is going to start looking for mockingbirds everywhere.

Both real and imagined.

And that will not be a good thing.

For example, if the public feels that it is not getting the straight story about something as presumably unintended and innocuous as a chance meeting between a prosecutor's relative and a couple of jurors......

How the heckfire are we not going to wonder if there isn't something not quite straight-up going down during a whole week of publication-banned "legal wrangling" that broke out immediately after a single objection by the prosecution in response to a defense question about another familial relationship that involves one of the lead RCMP investigators on the case and a high-ranking BC Liberal Party apparatchik?



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Stamping Out A Potential RailGate Tampdown?



Things have gone from weird to truly bizarre.

Keith Fraser in The Province is reporting that two RailGate jurors were approached by the father of one of the prosecutors at a skytrain station and, as a result, the judge has gone out of her way to assure the entire jury that it was not anyone associated with the defense and that it will not happen again:

....Two jurors in the Basi-Virk trial were approached outside court and spoken to by the father of one of the prosecutors in the case, but the trial judge assured the jury Wednesday that it won't happen again.

The trial had been delayed Tuesday for submissions in the absence of the jury, submissions that cannot be reported on due to a publication ban imposed by B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie.

Submissions continued on Wednesday and then the judge addressed the 12-member jury about the incident which occurred near the Patterson SkyTrain station last Wednesday, June 16.

MacKenzie didn't say what the man said to the jurors, making it clear that it was the dad of one of the three prosecutors and not anyone connected in any way with the three accused on trial.

"Such an incident won't happen again," the judge told the jury. "You are not to draw any negative inference from this."

Perhaps bizarre was too mild a descriptor.

Because, especially if it turns out that there was any 'intent' involved whatsoever, it borders on the truly unbelievable.

And, again......

According to the judge this had nothing whatsoever to do with the defense, which is also being confirmed by Citizen J. from Courtroom 54 over at Mary's who also makes the excellent point that there would be heckfire to pay if, say, a blogger were to approach any member of the jury while the trial was going on.

According to Mr. Fraser it was the jurors themselves that brought this up with the sheriff (ie. it was NOT the prosecution that brought it to the court's attention).
And, finally, the jury has been given the rest of the day off......So.....No reportable testimony today either....Which means it's pretty well another week shot.....Sheesh.


The Accredited RailGate Press Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight....

(click on image to enlarge)

......One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

Except it is.

That other thing/last story regarding the 'questioning about Mountie' at the bottom, I mean.


Because all of the other stories with the faux header about a 'Mountie On The Stand' are actually just reprints of Neal Hall's original speculative VSun/CanWest story about how he thought that yesterday's edition of the RailGate trial would center around the Defense' questioning of Gordon Campbell's chief-of-staff Martyn Brown about the relationship between a lead RCMP investigator on the case and a high ranking BC Liberal/Gordon Campbell Party appartchik.

Now, to the best of our knowledge Mr. Brown is not secret member of the Horsemen.

In other words there was never, ever even a hint of a whiff of a non-existent aroma about a real live RCMP member actually taking the stand yesterday.



How did all those very fine Global News folks that ran Mr. Hall's story with that ridiculously inflammatory and completely inaccurate headline get is so wrong?


Perhaps they can blame it on all those Bloggers' out in Lotusland.

After all, they are members of a 'Cult', right?

What's all the fuss about an 'Accreditation Shuffle'?.....Well, awhile back there was a bit of a kerfuffle about how Supreme Court 'press credential accreditation committee' refused to let citizen journalist nonpareil Robin Mathews into their club.....Interestingly enough, three of the four members of the accrediatation committee work for CanWest news outlets.....And one of them, the afore-mentioned Mr. Hall, when pushed by our friend Mary, accused Mr. Mathews of coming to crazy, inflammatory conclusions that aren't based in the real facts (because, in this case, Mary and Robin originally got it wrong and said that all four members of the PressGang were CanWest scribes when it turns out the fourth was actually from GlobeBellCTVRDSTSNCHUMEverythingElsePossibleMedia, which is way, way, way different - right?)....
Update: Don't miss NVG's fantastic eyewitness-based musings on what really has been going down, both on the surface and below, in the Studio 54 courtroom....They're in the comments, here (read 'em all!)....


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

RailGate Rewind....Is Gary Mason Also Just An "Avowed Political Opponent Hurling Comments"?


Update: 3:00pm Tuesday June 22nd/10....
Martyn Brown was supposed to be back on the stand again today being cross-examined further by defense lawyer Michael Bolton....Neal Hall had reported early this morning in the VSun that he figured the line of questioning would follow-up on the matter of the 'relationship' between one of the RCMP's lead investigators on the case, Kevin Debruyckere, and the Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party, Kelly Reichert.....That questioning did not happen, apparently, at least in part, due to objections of the special prosecutor William Berardino that contributed to more 'legal wrangling' with the jury out of the room...."Citizen Journalist From Courtroom 54" has the best take I've read on that so far over at Mary's place, here....


Last week, under questioning from David Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton, Gordon Campbell's chief-of-staff Martyn Brown said the following as a means of explaining why he and his boss both ignored a question asked, and a potential problem raised, by then (unofficial) opposition member Joy MacPhail in the Legislature in the Spring of 2003:

"I don't know there was any optics problem - I didn't concede that there was an optics problem. Ms. MacPhail, leader of the opposition at the time and an avowed political opponent hurling about comments in the Legislature that even of themselves would necessarily pose a problem, so I don't accept your characterization."


What exactly was the question asked by Ms. Macphail that led to the raising of the potential "optics problem" oh so many years ago?


Here it is - straight from Hansard:

J. MacPhail: A longtime Liberal Party fundraiser is Patrick Kinsella. He is the lobbyist for CN. Has the Premier or any of his ministers met with Mr. Kinsella and representatives of CN?

And how did Mr Brown's then and still current boss, Mr. Campbell, answer the question?

Why, of course, without actually denying anything, he did the only thing he possibly could have done to remain plausibly non-deniable.....

He told Ms. McPhail to go FOI herself:

Hon. G. Campbell: I don't have an answer for that. As the member opposite knows, if she wants to know about specific meeting times with either myself or the minister, she can do that through freedom of information.

But here's the real thing....

That potential "optics problem" has never ever really gone away because Mr. Campbell, CN Rail, and Mr. Kinsella, to the best of our knowledge, have all refused to answer any and all questions about whether or not the latter had any sort of working relationship whatsoever with CN Rail at the very same time that he, Mr. Kinsella, was also working for BC Rail when the big deal went down.

By way of illustration, we'll let Gary Mason pick up the trail six years later, in a piece he wrote for the Globe and Mail in April of 2009:

....During the bid period (for the BC Rail deal), Mr. 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.

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.

I phoned CN yesterday to ask if Mr. Kinsella was a paid consultant or lobbyist during the bid process, and spokesperson Kelli Svendsen said: "We have nothing to say."

Mr. Kinsella, meantime, has long taken a vow of silence on his activities. Let's not forget that CP Rail angrily pulled out of the bid process in November, 2003, complaining that CN had the inside track all along - that the process was effectively rigged in its favour.


Given all that we now know about 'media monitoring' by the current government and its agents and/or avowed 'stakeholders', we feel the following needs to be asked given Mr. Brown's statement from last week that is quoted above:

Is Mr. Mason, like Ms. MacPhail before him, also just an "avowed political opponent hurling comments" at Mr. Campbell et al. that should therefore just be dismissed as such?

We figure only Mr. Mason's editors and/or his potential sources know for sure.

*We've long wondered, though, if Ms. MacPhail did follow through with that FOI......Wouldn't that be interesting?....
The quote from Mr. Brown at the top of the post comes from the invaluably fulsome eyewitness reports by Bill Tieleman that he regularly posts up on his blog....Thus, his place is where you really see the PAB-Bots attack in the comments.
For the record,
we have written quite a lot about this in the past also....You can find a pretty good backgrounder on how Ms. McPhail's original question came to later light here....


Monday, June 21, 2010

RailGate Whitewash....Hey Pundits - Read The Darned Document!


Last week in the Railgate trial, Mr. Martin Brown was highly obfuscatory on the matter of the 'interim' Fairness Advisor's Report which was rushed to release just days before the big deal with CNRail went down way back in the fall of 2003, and then was by BC Liberal Party Lickspittles to wash away any and all 'taint' that was raised by non-CN Rail bidders that ran away scraming that the fix was in.

Here is an example of Mr. Brown's obfuscation for a compliant proMedia nation from Neal Hall in the VSun last Friday:

....(David Basi's lawyer Michael) Bolton also showed another Vaughn Palmer column, published Nov. 19, 2003, which detailed how The Vancouver Sun had received a copy of a letter from CP Rail to the premier's office, complaining about a lack of fairness in the bidding process and withdrawing its bid.

In response, the government released a "fairness report" from consultant Charles River Associates, which concluded the bidding process was "fair and impartial."

Bolton suggested to Brown that the fairness report authors did not contact CP Rail or another bidder, OmniTrax, and instead wrote a "phony report" to justify CN as the winning bidder.

"I don't accept that," Brown said. "I don't believe that for a second. It reflects the highest level of integrity."....

Interesting that, don't you think?

Mr. Brown just did not accept Mr. Bolton's, and this is Mr. Neal Hall's of the VSun's word, 'suggestion' that the Fairness Report's authors did not contact CP Rail or other bidders that complained about the fix being in.

Well, given all that....

Here is a very specific question for Mr. Hall, and/or his Editors, and/or others at the VSun staff who may or may not be following up on Mr. Hall's stuff:

Have they even looked at that 'interim' Fairness Report that was rushed to release in Nov of 2003?

And if they have, indeed, looked at that report, have they read the following very, very explicit passage that does not 'suggest' anything:

"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."


Pre-trial publication bans are one thing.

But that Fairness Report' has been used to wave away the 'fix was in' allegation repeatedly by Mr. Brown during his cross-examination by the defense in the real trial, with the jury present.

Thus, there is absolutely no excuse for this "he said/she said" crap from the proMedia without follow-up when the source material is right there for them to peruse so that they can state, unequivocally, based on the documentary evidence, that what Mr. Brown said when he responded to Mr. Bolton's "suggestion" was flat-out wrong.

And if Mr. Brown can be so flat-out wrong about such a fundamental aspect of this case, why should we, the public, and/or the jury, believe that he can be right about anything at all?


For the record, I and others in the 'cult' first wrote about the 'interim' Fairness Advisor's report way back in 2007, as described here......


Sunday, June 20, 2010

For My Dad.


The following is a re-re-re-re-worked version of one of the first posts I ever wrote.

In fact, you might even say it has become a bit of a tradition here at the PacificGazette

(if such a thing is even possible on the Interwebz)


I really do live a charmed life.

I have a wonderful wife and two great kids.

I also have a job I actually like, where most of the time I get to do what I want while working with people (also mostly kids) to produce stuff we are all really proud of.

And that job pays me well; not hockey player money well, but I make more than I ever dreamed of. Which, of course, means that I make just enough that we can afford to live in our own house within the Vancouver city limits.

In fact, I guess some might say that I am upwardly mobile enough that I should quit all my complainin' because I'm one of the lucky ones that actually benefits financially from many of the 'rich folks first!' policies of Mr. Campbell et al.

But here's the thing.....

I am most definitely not one of those 'ladder puller-uppers'?

You know, somebody who's got theirs, and now says, "Screw you Jack," to everybody else.


I'll tell you why.

It's because of my Dad.......

My old man was a Union man.

And the folks in the Union fought like bastards...and they fought constantly, usually for the tiniest of things in each successive contract...things like an extra quarter percent on a COLA clause, or one little add-on like an extra free filling per year on the dental plan.

And when I was a kid, especially during that time when I was a barely no-longer-a-teenager-aged kid, I thought the folks from the Union were just a little bit off their nut....all that energy going into what, exactly?

After all, it was the 80's, and Dave Barrett and the Socialist Hordes were long gone, and the Wild Kelowna boys were rolling along, and Unions were bad, and Expo was coming, and Trudeau was going, and John Turner was hiccupping, and Mulroney was lurking, somewhere off in the distance....

....And if you were a half-bright, apolitical science-geek kind of kid like me, breezing your way through college and thinking about graduate school, you laughed when you saw the boy wonder from Burnaby, Michael J. Fox, shirk his Family Ties and ape the young Republicans while making fun of his willfully neutered Leftie of a Dad on the TV screen...

....And if you were that kid, you thought that you were living in a golden age that was tied, not to the social democratic reforms of the past, but to the coming of Free Trade and the promises of the Reaganites from the South...

...And from that perspective you sure as heck didn't always get the irony of Bruce Springsteen singing about the plight of the working class in 'Born in the USA'.

But now that I have spent a good chunk of time in USA where I started a family of my own before coming home, I do get it.

I understand that my Dad spent his entire adult life hauling logs up and down the West Coast, working his guts out to help keep the robber baron families rich because he had to make a living to support his own family....

....And I get the fact that, because of the Unions, my family's standard of living gradually improved, bit by bit, over the years so that by the time I had grown up to be that callow young man described above my parents had saved enough to help me go to University....

....And I get the fact that I was the first one in my family who got to go to University....Ever.....And it wasn't because I was so damned smart....

....And I get the fact that, while my parents' limited financial help and support was important, it would never have been enough to get me into the same good schools if I had arrived on the scene a single generation earlier or, perhaps, later....

....And I get the fact that those Wild Kelowna Boys, and all the other neo-cons that have come since, have been doing their damndest to destroy the dream of a University education for all, and instead have instituted an elitist education for some and one-trick-pony Technical training for everybody else.....

....And I get the fact that, if it wasn't for folks like my Dad and the other lefties of his time, my current world, one in which I make a living with my eyes and my mind wide open, would not be what it is today.....

....And most of all, I now get the fact that my Dad was, and is, my hero.


And here's to our good friend Lynx's and cfvua's Dads too
....Forever may they ramble, roam, organize, bargain, and/or just plain old give somebody a hand-up whenever and wherever the need arises.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Glamming Of Eleanor, But Not Sweet Lou.


While I'm kind of glad it's finally going (this mind you is the opinion of a guy who still wants Captain Jack Farr to run 23 and-a-half/7 on the MotherCorp), I must confess that the penultimate GO show this morning was pretty good.

It was some kinda/almost/sorta reality long-gone thing called 'The Secret Glam Rock Diaries of Eleanor Wachtel'.

Of course there were clues of the unreality of the thing stamped all over it, like the bit about meeting a coffee-jazzed, blonde-haired streaky girl named Debbie out of nowhere, circa 1974.

But the music was good.

And the weird existentialism that was threaded into the thing sometimes rose above the usual banalities spouted by host Brent Bambury every single week.

And then there was a wee bit, right near the end, that actually stripped away the glam and got right down to it:

....Sometime in the next century, people will look back at (Lou Reed's) music and say, "Was it great Rock and Roll?"

(And) no one will ask, "What was he wearing?"


If you wanna have a listen to E. Wachtel read a bunch of words that might, or might not, be partially her own mixed-in with a dose of NYDolls tottering on the edge of oblivion, you can find it here (see June 19, 2010 show on audio list on the right sidebar).

Alternatively, if you wanna hear Captain Jack shake all of those Willow Trees of Winnipeg's north end that are still filled with Finkelman's..... Well....As far as I can tell from a first pass through the Google-Cache, you're pretty much sh*t outta luck.

Which is a damned shame, because I'm pretty sure nobody ever asked Jackie what he was wearing, right from the very beginning.

Or even if he was really even there.



Friday, June 18, 2010

RailGate Round-Up....The Flinging Of The Former Finance Minister


I'm not sure about you.


I'm pretty sure I heard the sound of Gordon Campbell's former Finance Minister, Gary Collins, being thrown under the bus in the Railgate courtroom last week.

And in my opinion the deed was done by Premier Gordon Campbell's current chief-of-staff, Mr. Martyn Brown.

This potential mangling of former Minister by undercarriage occurred during an exchange between David Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton and Mr. Brown that involved the so-called the 'Consolation Prize' that was supposed to have been given to OmniTRAX, the American RailCo that was allegedly paying Eric Bornmann and, presumably, his associates to bribe Mr. Basi et al.


Well, perhaps a little background is in order before we get to the actual exchange between Mess'rs Bolton and Brown.


This 'Consolation Prize' business was all about the Roberts Bank spur line which is a short, lucrative, 40km stretch of BC Rail track that was NOT sold-off to CN Rail when the big deal went down in Nov 2003.

Instead, it was supposed to go to a different company, in a separate deal to be consumated later.

But that later deal was never consumated.


Because the Horsemen told the government of Gordon Campbell that they, the RCMP, had obtained evidence which led them to conclude that the spur line deal might be tainted.

So, here's the real deal (which, in my mind at least is the crux of the entire matter because, if true, it leads directlly back to influence peddling and deal fixing right from the beginning)....

The defense is alleging that OmniTRAX stayed in the bidding on the big CN Rail deal when the other competitors dropped out screaming bloody murder about bid-rigging because they were assured that they would receive the spur line as the 'Consolation Prize'.


And with that, we now pick up on the exchange in the Railgate courtroom between Mr.Bolton the lawyer and Mr. Brown the Campbellero-in-Chief as reported by Bill Tieleman.

First, here's the set-up (and please note the part about the RCMP and their 'surveillance'):

....Bolton then raised a dinner meeting between Gary Collins, then-Finance Minister, and two OmniTRAX executives - CEO Pat Broe and VP Dwight Johnson - at the Villa del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver after BC Rail had been announced as sold to CN Rail and before bids closed on the Roberts Bank spur line, worth up to an estimated $70 million.

Bolton noted to Brown that the RCMP had launched extensive surveillance of the meeting.

Bolton: "Was it appropriate for the Minister of Finance to meet with a bidder at that time?"

Brown: " I had and have great confidence in the integrity of Mr. Collins.".....

Alrighty then.....No admission of anything untoward by Mr. Brown. In fact, as per usual there is little or no admission of anything by Mr. Brown. However, he does make it clear that he has always had the the greatest confidence in Mr. Collins' "integrity".

Hmmmmmm.....What happens if we move onto the part of the exchange that deals with the matter of 'intent'?

Bolton: "I'm going to suggest to you that it was unusual for Mr. Collins to meet Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson between the two bids - between BC Rail and the Roberts Bank subdivision."

Brown: "I don't have any view on why Mr. Collins would meet with them. You would have to ask him."

Bolton: "Did you, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Collins and Deputy Minister [Ken] Dobell meet in December 2003 to discuss the bid?"

Brown replied that they may have met - they had lots of meetings in December because it was "budget crunch time."

Bolton: "I'm going to sugget to you that Mr. Collins told that meeting he was going to meet OmniTRAX executives."

Brown: "If he did I have no recall of that whatsoever."

Bolton: "Well, he'd been advised by Charles River Associates [the BC government's fairness advisor on the sale] not to meet with bidders."

Brown: "You or Mr. [defence lawyer Kevin] McCullough told be that but I don't recall. I don't recall any discussion with Mr. Collins about any dinner meeting with OmniTRAX whatsoever."...

Well that's interesting, don't you think?

Because, some might conclude that Mr. Brown was suggesting, just beneath the heavy veil of his constant evasions, that the dinner meeting with the good folks from OmniTRAX may have been all Gary Collins' idea.

Which would have been an 'idea' of the utmost 'integrity', of course.

And then, finally, there's this....

Bolton: "The consolation prize was to be offered with thanks from the government for staying in the bidding."

Brown: "I would emphatically deny that - I cannot believe the government or Mr. Collins would be in a position to make a promise like that."

Bolton: "They would be told their Roberts Bank bid would be looked at with favour."

Brown: "The government would be grateful for all the bidders who stayed in the process. But in terms of offering a consolation prize - I would strongly say that didn't happen."


Recall that that the RCMP had the dinner between Mr. Collins and the fine folks from OmniTRAX under surveillance......

Which means that they just might have taped what was said.....


Given that Mr. Brown has emphatically denied that he or his government, the government of Gordon Campbell, would be 'in a position' to promise the 'Consolation Prize'....

And if it turns out that there is actually physical evidence indicating that Mr. Collins did, indeed, make such a promise?


Can you hear the brakes on that bus squealing?


Perhaps more to the point....

Can Mr. Collins?

We've been writing about the putative 'Consolation Prize', which some, including Vaughn Palmer, have tentatively dubbed the 'Quid Pro Quo' for some time now....


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When Is Ratf*cking Not Ratf*cking?


Apparently, according to Martyn Brown, when it is not actually done by he who is arranging it.

Or some such codswallop.

To be absolutely clear, that is my opinion only, and it is based on Keith Fraser of The Province's account of an exchange between David Basi's attorney Michael Bolton and Mr. Brown while the latter was being cross-examined Tues June 15/10:

......Bolton noted his client’s role in arranging for government supporters to call in to radio talk shows and ask “softball questions” for the premier.

He said Basi was “particularly effective” at those activities and others, which have been characterized as “political dirty tricks” by critics.

Brown said he saw nothing wrong with the phone calls, as long as Basi wasn’t making the calls himself.

“He had very good interpersonal skills,” he (Brown) said of Basi. “He was keen on what you could call stakeholder outreach. My understanding is that [former finance minister Gary] Collins had a lot of confidence in his ability to do that appropriately.”.......

Oh, and please note also that ratf*cking now has a new name.....'stakeholder outreach'.

Which is fine also, apparently, as long as it is done 'appropriately'.


Need a Segretti primer and/or refresher?......The Wiki version is actually not half-bad.


PAB-Bot Visit Of The Week



Update, 12 noon Tuesday June 15/10:
Neal Hall in the VSun is reporting that K McCullough, after ending with allegations about shooting monkeys or some such thing, is now done with M. Brown....M. Bolton is now having a go....And the subject is.....Patrick Kinsella.....'Allegedly'.....

It's interesting to me that the subject of media monitoring has come up repeatedly during the last few days of cross-examination of Premier Gordon Campbell's chief of staff, Mr. Martyn Brown during the RailGate trial.

A good example was an exchange from late last week between Robert Virk's* lawyer Kevin McCullough and Mr. Brown which was recorded for posterity by Bill Tieleman:

McCullough: "Media monitoring - that was part of your job?"

Brown: "Part of it - not hour to hour, minute to minute issues management. Media monitoring people advise us of issues by the hour."

Now, of course, all this hourly advising by the fine 'media monitoring people' from the Public Affairs Bureau (ie. PAB-Bots) which, as we've discussed in the past, are part of a massive apparatus that includes hundreds of employees hired by Martyn Brown himself that cost tens of millions of dollars every single year, is really just to keep track of the utterances of the heavyweights like Vaughn Palmer, Mike Smyth, Gary Mason, and Keith Baldrey** .....




How do I know that the PAB-Bots are watching/monitoring way, way more than more than just the heavyweights amongst the puffed-up proMedia punditry?


It turns out that sincce the Railgate Trial started for real I am now visited, on average, much more than 'hourly' from the "gov.bc.ca" domain.

In fact, this tiny little F-Troop list blog is visited, on average, more than 50 times a day from folks whose computers originate there.

Now, I also know that not all of those fine folks are PAB-Bots because a number of them have contacted me off-line to tell me they are not, but instead are just as interested as any bonafide Railgate Cult member in what is really going on.


Many of them are definitely PAB-Bots that I have gotten to know by their sub-domains, their specific locations, and, in particular, where they come from (ie. they really like to land here after visiting the Tyee's blog-listing page, for example).

And then, there are times, you can tell based on what they're looking for.

Like the visit shown below that took place late last Thursday just minutes after I posted up a piece titled, 'RailGate Goes Boating To Savary Island....Allegedly' (note the PAB-Bot's google search word string outlined in red as well as the fact that they left by clicking out to Mark Hume's Globe piece that I quoted on the matter):
(click image above to enlarge)


For the Bots that are sure to land here today - How do you like them apples?

And/or road signs.

*Why, all of a sudden are all the proMedia folks calling the fine fellow formerly known as Bob from Burnaby "Bobby" anyway?
**Whoops, of course there is no need to monitor Mr. Baldrey....My mistake...Which really makes you wonder, given the withering of the 'foot the fire' folks round here - just who the heck are they monitoring, really?....
Finally, I am under no illusion that it is anything more than the low level worker bees-bots that I can actually identify via the domain mentioned....After all, as we have learned from trial testimony as well, there is this little matter of 'parallel private computers' in PAB-Bot offices that we have to contend with also...And then there are the 'cloaking service' domains that have suddenly started popping-up like little exploding kernels of buttery goodness on my site-meter as well in the last few weeks....


Monday, June 14, 2010

RailGate Rewind.....Just How Much Did CIBC Give To The BC Liberal Party?


Remember this, from last week's continuing cross examination of the man with the missing memory, Premier Gordon Campbell's chief-of-staff Martyn Brown:

In his cross-examination of Mr. Brown, lawyer Kevin McCullough suggested Virk was worried about fallout from hiring CIBC World Markets to act as financial adviser during the sell-off of the provincial asset when the government had made an election promise to put all large contracts up for tender.

“[Mr.] Virk came to you and told you that CIBC World Markets was going to get this untendered contract for millions of dollars and that they were a friend, a close donating friend, of the government. He told you that,” Mr. McCullough put to Mr. Brown.

“I don't remember that at all,” Mr. Brown replied, saying he didn't even know CIBC donated cash to the B.C. Liberals.

“You don't recall him saying, ‘Martyn, we're breaking one election promise selling BC Rail, we shouldn't stick another one on top of it?”’ Mr. McCullough asked.

“The conversation you're alleging that happened, I don't remember it at all,” said Mr. Brown, who is still Campbell's chief of staff........."


Just how much did CIBC, in its various incarnations, including CIBC World Markets, give to the BC Liberal Party from 2000-2010?

Well, we actually went back and dug through the individual pdfs for 2000-2004 and sub-totaled $138,205.

Luckily, Elections BC makes it way easier to digitally search donations from 2005-2010 (because, let me tell you, I was getting a headache squinting at the crappy scans of FAXes of the original documents from earlier on).....

(click image to enlarge)

Add it all together and you get $282,215.


That's almost David McLean/CN Rail and Peter Armstrong/Rocky Mountain Railtour money.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Entire History of Everything Imaginable...

...In A Smallish Corner Of FarLeft Blogistan



For those of you that have been mistakenly trying to bash the doors on I-Tunes down looking for it, you can now find the 2nd installment of the cross-Pacific conversations with my spiritual advisor here.

Of course, that 'advisor' would be none other than the 'Reverand Paperboy' who, in addition to contributing to the world famous Galloping 'Banned-in-Guantanamo' Beaver, also runs a kinghell blog of his own called The Woodshed from across the pond in, get this!, Tokyo.

This week on the Rev's Maple Syrup Revolution podcast we have a great time talking about how we each got interested in, and, frankly, got hooked-on, the Bloggodome.

And while we didn't quite manage to get everything in there, it's a far and wide-ranging discussion that begins with the swiftboating of John Kerry and ends with joys of Busking when you don't even have to.


Go figure.

Anyway, along the way we talk about:

The early wurlitzering of the Instapundit despite the non-stop putridity of his posts, including when his flies-in-my-eyes gaze turns northward....

The depth and breadth, both of the posts and the comment threads, of the early Atrios and what they have since devolved in..... to....

The firey births of BlueGal and Driftglass that were preceded by the mutually observed kicking of the latter out of the nest by the king of the five-tooled, take no prisoners left-sided uber-bloggers, Steve Gilliard....They now have the best left-sided, regularly-scheduled podcast on the webz....

The origins of the all-mighty 'Gilliard Doctrine'....

And someone we missed, but really should have mentioned known only as "Jen", who we hope is doing well....Why?....Because, in my mind at least, Jen and Steve were like Left Blogistan's own version of Hepburn and Tracy.

The thrill of the early 'Rome Really Is Burning' (or was that London?) chronicles of the cultural and political zeitgeist by the then still be-blogspotted Christy Hardin-Smith and Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake....

The Rev's very own adventures at the 'Lake when he ran an early bookclub with the guy who has done more to nail down the machinations, and rank-hypocrisy, behind the extreme right in the United States than any other blogger, David Neiwert...

The stupidity, not to mention the futility, of Subscription Wailing Walls.....

The thrill of chasing down the earliest serial subvertors of those walls b/w the information empowerment that was kick-started by the early newsite aggregators....

The man with the best, most seemless transition from posts of true power to threads where the punches were never pulled and the intellectual dust-ups were legendary, Billmon....

The Canadian Billmon - Dave, at the afore-mentioned Galloping Beaver - especially when he was writing and commenting flat-out like a madman with a crystal ball that the Vegas bookies would kill for. And it has to be mentioned that one of the things that made both Dave and Billmon's writing so powerful (and why Dave's still is), is the fact that, in addition to being fine wordsmiths, they both have been around the world and actually know things....

A discussion (although I think the Rev thought I was a little off-base and/or cuckoo) about whether or not the wingnut welfare-assisted sites, including the Cons own 'Blogging Tories', actually helped foster the vibrancy, and increase the rigour, of the best of Left Blogistan.

The difference between sites that became larger entities with a stable of writers and the small shops run by true amateurs with the passion to risk burning out rather than fading away.

The various ways and means to go pro and actually make a living at the thing. We agreed that the most successful, both monetarily and in terms of influence engendered across the entire bloggodome, was Josh Marshall with his Talking Points Memo, although we also acknowledged the semi-success of the slightly slimey 'famous-friends-writing-for-free' strategy of Ariana Huffington. We also talked about the fine work of Sean Holman locally and how tough it is for somebody who is essentially a straight investigatory journo trying to make a go of things of things in the toobz using the old-fangled Izzy Stone newsletter model. In the end, we wondered if maybe The Tyee doesn't have the best balance/mix of the dead-tree and the new-fangled digital worlds. However, neither of is entirely sure how, exactly David Beers did/does it and whether he really did pseudo-Soros/Labour pockets of depth to get going...Regardless, in the end, we the readers, have to realize that there is one thing that WILL fix the problem, which is, that we have to, as Driftglass says, "Pay the Effing Writer"....And luckily, the Bloggodome makes that really, really, ridiculously easy....So, if you live in Lotusland - Do IT!

And finally, we decided that Busking purely for fun is, when you get right down to it, essentially the musical equivalent of being a true amateur Blogger....But we decided to talk about that another day.....


Again, if you wanna have a listen, the rev's fine audio work is here.

One thing you won't hear on this week's pod, but I know the Rev has down on the punchcards somewhere, is our discussion of who the real first, pre-Apple IIe blogger really was...


Friday, June 11, 2010

The Curious Case of Mr. Brown's Missing Memory



Update @ 3:00pm
on the 'Blair Not-So Witchy Project' at bottom of post


Non-accredited journalist nonpareil Robin Mathews gets right to the heart of the matter in his latest report over at Mary's, here:

"....Was he (Mr. Brown) involved in analysis of job cuts to be caused by the transfer of BC Rail to CNR? Mr. Brown didn't remember. Did he remember in a meeting so chastising a Ministerial assistant that she broke into tears? No he didn't remember. Did he (in 2002 - 3) follow how Railways were operated in Canada and the world? Well, there was a lot of talk, but he was not 'knowledgeable'. Did premier Campbell attend a private meeting involving Patrick Kinsella, McLean (of CNR), Dobell, and Armstrong on Savary Island? Mr. Brown couldn't speculate about that. Did Bob Virk bring up the Savary Island meeting with him? Mr. Brown couldn't remember. Asked several questions about the profitability of BC Rail in years before the 2001 election - and in 2001, 2002, and 2003, Mr. Brown didn't know. When asked the financial state of BC Rail and the public position of the Campbellites, Mr. Brown repeated the extremely dubious (to say the least) mantra of a debt-ridden, failing, inefficient enterprise.

Asked if the write-off matters were really debt, Mr. Brown said "ask BC Rail". Asked if the Campbell business management team told others to speak of the BC Rail as a billion dollars in debt, Mr. Brown couldn't recall that. Asked if the people Gordon Campbell had used to make a Board of Directors of BC Rail were in a position to simply do what Campbell wanted, Mr. Brown's answer was "preposterous".

Was there a decision by Gordon Campbell to "sell" BC Rail within five years? Mr. Brown didn't know. A "fairness advisor' was appointed by the government in the sale of BC Rail. How much was the fairness advisor paid? Mr. Brown didn't remember. When asked if he knew if Charles River and Associates (Fairness advisor) was based in Boston, Massachusetts, Mr. Brown said he didn't know, thought they were B.C. Did Gordon Campbell - when he went to speak in New York - attempt to get the Fairness advisor to assure that the room would be full to hear Campbell? Sounds unlikely, said Brown. I'm not aware of it. Did Mr. Brown know that Partnership BC people asked why they were not handling the BC Rail matter? No, he didn't. He didn't remember a reported conversation he had about the matter. Did he remember calling Bob Virk on his cell phone and shouting at him to come and speak about (his superior) Judith Reid's performance on TV with Campbell" No. Brown couldn't remember. Asked if he told Bob Virk that Judith Reid had to improve or be gone, Mr. Brown didn't recall saying that, didn't believe he said that, didn't recall saying that. Asked if any of the "Northern Caucus" (formed over the proposed transfer of BC Rail to CNR) went to him to ask for information about BC Rail, Mr. Brown couldn't recall. Did he ever have conversation with Christie Clark (deputy premier) about Eric Bornmann? Brown couldn't recall. Did he ever ask Christie Clark if she had met Pat Brough - CEO of Omnitrax, a bidder for BC Rail? Brown couldn't remember.

The day unwound in that fashion. By now, there is probably not a person in the gallery who believes what Martyn Brown is saying. And he hasn't been cross examined by Michael Bolton, counsel for Dave Basi......"

Robin's report is really, really value-added compared to most of the stenography that dominates the proMedia's reports. I highly recommend it.

(and I will have more to say about this so-called 'Northern Caucus' later)

Just heard of B. Lekstrom's resignation (9:00am Friday)....(notso)Giant98 is floating unsubstantiated rumours that it something to do with 'pressure' in his home riding due to anti-HST sentiment....Hmmmm....Is that the sound of preFriaday-afternoon document deflector spin I hear cranking up.....
Update (3:00pm Friday).....Sean Holman has the most fulsome reportage of what he ingeneously calls 'The Blair Leckstrom Project' over at Public Eye....Taken at face value it looks like Mr. Lekstrom tried and tried and tried to institute change from within the BC Liberal Party cabinet and caucus regarding 'delaying' implementation of the HST to no avail and thus has resigned from both to sit, apparently, as an independent....Others might have a more cynical opinion on Mr. L's actions, particular given the 'reasons' cited in his press release which is attached to Mr. Holman's post....Regardless, it will be most interesting to see if any other potential recall victims follow Lekstrom over the side...


Thursday, June 10, 2010

RailGate Goes Boating To Savary Island....Allegedly


Well, well, well......

The issue of an alleged get-together on Savary Island in the Fall of 2003 came up at the Railgate Trial today.

Here is the CP's unbylined report on the matter in the Globe:

...Mr. Brown also denied knowing the premier had a “private meeting” with several men interested in the sale on an island on B.C.’s southern coast in the fall 2003, just before CN was announced as the winning bidder.

Mr. Brown said that was the first time he'd heard that CN Rail executive David McLean, Rocky Mountaineer CEO Peter Armstrong and deputy minister Ken Dobell allegedly gathered on Savary Island.

But he noted he didn't consider it a conflict of interest for his boss to meet with those people in the midst of the bidding process....

Please note that Mr. Brown begins with a non-denial, not-quite flat-out denial.

Regardless, in my opinion the statement by Mr. Brown that he didn't think that such a meeting, mythical or otherwise, would be a conflict of interest, is downright bizarre.


So, what's this really all about Alfie?


First, please recall that Mr. David McLean (CEO of CN Rail) and Mr. Peter Armstrong (CEO of RockyMountain Railtours) have been, and continue to be two of the biggest financial backers and fundraisers for Gordon Campbell ever, right from the very beginning (ie. all the way back to at least the mid-1990's).

Second, please also recall that after Gordon Campbell rescinded a 90 year-old statute that mandated extensive passenger rail service on all of BC Rail's far flung tracks in the Fall of 2002, he then sold those tracks to Mr. McLean and CN Rail who then later made a deal with Mr. Armstrong and Rocky Mountaineer Railtours to run tourist trains on the most desirable, most non-far flung portions of those tracks (ie. North Van to Whistler, for example).


If there was, indeed, a big get together on Savary Island before the deal went down and matters such as these were, indeed, discussed before they happened - with Premier Gordon Campbell present.......

Well, that would be a pretty big deal, not to mention a whopping huge conflict of interest, don't you think?

For the record, an Anon-O-Mouse also gave an eyewitness report of this line of questioning and response at Mary's place earlier this afternoon. It can be found on this thread @ 1:11pm, and it goes like this:

"....Interesting lines of questioning around Premier Campbell meeting with the Chair of CN in October 2003. Martyn did not remember and did not feel that it was a potential conflict of interest for the Premier to be meeting with David McLean during the bidding process.

Did the Premier have a meeting with Patrick Kinsella, Ken Dobell, Peter Armstrong, David McLean at Savary Island? Martyn denied any knowledge of this meeting but I was left with the impression that the meeting could have taken place and that Bob Virk had information about it...."

Now, is it possible that the CP reporter was a little mixed up and Mr. Brown was actually being asked about MORE than one specific meeting with Mr. David McLean prior to the deal going down?

Update, 7:00pm: Within 10 minutes of posting this one up the PAB-Bots started to arrive...Interesting that, don't you think?


RailGate For Real....Day 5 Preview


There is nothing specific in the public prints, and according to Mary the court registry is not entirely clear, but Bill Tieleman did mention that court should be in session today, presumably with Gordon Campbell's chief-of-staff Martyn Brown on the stand (again!).

Wonder if these two little items, from the May 2004 Talking Points that that were entered into evidence yesterday, will come up:

Potential Question for Premier Campbell: "We know that numerous people, including the Chief of Staff and the Premier himself, have details of the legislative 'raids' that are not public. Will the Premier admit he does know information that is not public and when will the public be informed of what the Premier knows."

Suggested Answer from the Premier as proposed by the Flack-Hackery: "This question has been canvassed repeatedly. Let me state again, 'I know no more than the general public and I will not in any way shape or form interfere in an ongoing investigation by engaging in speculation."


Follow-Up Potential Question for Premier Campbell: "Can the Premier confirm this, the information obtained by Mr. (Chief-of-Staff Martyn) Brown did play a role in his decision to fire Mr. Basi and place Mr. Virk on suspension (rather than firing him)?

Suggested Answer from the Premier as proposed by the Flack-Hackery: " My answer is the same as when this matter came up. My Chief of Staff made a recommendation on this matter that I concurred with. Mr Basi had a fundamentally different position as MA to the House Leader and that led to the decision to fire Mr. Basi."

Please note that, at the very least, the flack-hackery's suggested response to the follow-up question is a non-denial denial. However, as GWest points out in the comments, events that occurred and statements that were made prior to the writing of these talking points, it could also be considered to be a deliberate attempt at obfuscation based on omission.

Regardless, as I said in the previous post.....You couldn't make this stuff up even if you wanted to!

Talk to you all later with a Day 5 round-up.....


Talking Points Gordo.....May 2004 Edition.


I'm telling you.....

Even Frank Luntz on a non-stop, 28 day Ibogaine binge couldn't come up with stuff like this.

What the heck am I talking about?

Well, it's 28 pages of talking points for Gordon Campbell et al. that were presented as evidence by the defense in the Railgate trial, and was then released by the court, yesterday.

In the document, the flack hacks tell Mr. Campbell and his Cabinet colleagues how they should respond to questions, presumably those that were supposed to come from the press and/or JoyMcPhail, about any and all Railgate-related matters way back in the days when the deal was going down in the Spring of 2004 (ie. after the Ledge Raids, but before the charges came down and during that period when CN Rail was apparently getting cold feet because the tax credit default swap conditions had not yet been fully 'fixed' by a person or persons still unknown, kinda/sorta).

Last night Bill Tieleman, who reported on it most fulsomely by far, described the document thusly:

...Attached to a May 9, 2004 email from premier's office Deputy Chief of Staff for Issue Management Jay Schlosar to Tom Syer, former policy coordination and issues management deputy chief of staff, the 28 page document details proposed answers to media questions about the BC Rail deal and much, much more.

The first question: "How is a 990-year lease not a sale?"

The document goes on to discuss how to answer questions about the firing of David Basi and why Bob Virk was only suspended at that time; the role of Martyn Brown in personnel decisions, why the government won't suspend the BC Rail deal when it's "clearly under investigation", and much more.....

Now, I'm telling you....This thing is going to keep on giving and giving and giving as the trial proceeds, because it really does a contain a multitude of potential questions (many of which I, and others, have implored the proMedia to ask over the years) and all manner of fauxian 'answers' that are laughable in the extreme, so much so that they are going to be most deserving of constant belittlement and derision as the reality of the trial unfolds day after day after day.

And if you want it for your own reading enjoyment right now, it's all yours for the low, low price of only 8.2 Mb of free pdf file download, here.

(I'll have a few examples up to get us started on this never-ending story later - once I've stopped laughing and spraying coffee all over the keyboard! ......It actually contains more than just Railgate related matters, including stuff on the Doug Walls affair...We can expect to see a few comments on that aspect of the thing from Sean Holman soon, I reckon...)

And thanks to Grant G for the tip-off on how to find the document at the august Vancouver Province website where it had been miss-linked in yesterday's Keith Fraser filing.....By the way, in case you didn't know it Grant has been making like a Sunshine Coast Hunter Thompson transplant gone wild over at his own place lately....No mention of ibogaine there yet though......