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...



Anonymous said...

good that guy is a puke I hope that not only his political life is over,but also hope he is shunned by all in his personal life for selling us and our children and their children,there should be a law that no party should be able to enact laws that go beyond there mandate,unless it can be proven to benefit all citizens,barring that all laws that go beyond a mandate should be brought to referendum,provincially or federally,now that would be democracy,not the crap their doing now

Alison said...

Excellent reportage from Robin. Thanks.

and, um, Lekstrom voted for the HST in full knowledge of how unpopular it was in Peace River South.

Leah said...

Lekstrom = Worried Opportunist.

BC Mary said...


Hope you found time to drop in at Salt Spring News to see the collection Jim Scott has posted to illuminate the past and future significance of Blair Lekstrom.

Sometimes I have to marvel at the strength and brilliance of people who are supporting the BC Rail findings .... which, I do believe is in large part, what has driven Lekstrom from his comfy Cabinet chair.

As Paul Nettleton said this afternoon, "Interesting times just got a whole lot more interesting."

RossK said...

Thanks Mary-

On my way!


Anonymous said...

"I respect his position. I understand it but... we clearly disagree," Campbell told reporters in Victoria a few hours after he sold BC, no, no, no....

"I respect his position. I understand it but... we clearly disagree," Campbell told reporters in Victoria a few hours after he accepted Kash Heed's resignation for a second, that's not right.....

"I respect his position. I understand it but... we clearly disagree," Campbell told reporters in Victoria a few hours after Gary Collins retired from politics......NO, NO, NO....

"I respect the publics position. I understand it but... we clearly disagree," Campbell told reporters in Victoria a few hours after he won the 2009 election without mentioning the HST.

"I respect his position. I understand it but... we clearly disagree," Campbell told reporters in Victoria a few hours after Blair announced his resignation.

RossK said...


Whose position, exactly, did Mr. Campbell disagree with after he sold BC Rail...

...And does that person's last name rhyme with pettleton?



Anonymous said...

You've got it RossK.... Nettleton!

Anonymous said...

"With Lekstrom out, B.C. Premier Campbell could be next
Former B.C. Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources minister Blair Lekstrom is seen in this January 17, 2009 file photo in Victoria. Lekstrom has resigned from the Liberal cabinet and caucus, effective immediately, Friday June 11, 2010.

Lekstrom has resigned from the Liberal cabinet and caucus, effective immediately, Friday June 11, 2010.

Premier Gordon Campbell’s leadership has centred around the solidarity of fellow B.C. Liberals. Following Blair Lekstrom’s sudden resignation Friday, Mr. Campbell’s days as Premier may be numbered."


"Mr. Lekstrom’s decision to quit the caucus represents a huge crack in the wall of solidarity that has always surrounded the party. Suddenly it doesn’t look so invincible and unassailable any more.

Just like Mr. Campbell’s leadership."

- Gary Mason


RossK said...

Regarding Mr. Nettleton....

Has the time finally come to re-visit his letter to the Premier that Mr. Palmer reprinted with a most 'unfortunate' error....


Should we wait a while yet?


North Van's Grumps said...

Here's something we should be reviewing:

"Sept. 10, 2004 - Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm orders the release of court documents, although about 80 per cent of the information was blacked out to protect the ongoing police investigation. The documents allege two B.C. Liberal aids released confidential information about a government deal to privatize a portion of B.C. Rail in exchange for a job with the federal government."

Can we have a copy of the Court Documents without any blacked-out sections?

Everything has been disclosed to the Defense, what harm is there in the public seeing what has been hidden for so long by Dohm?

Source of "Sept. 10, 2004" is from CBC News Indepth: BC Raid

North Van's Grumps said...

80 per cent!!!!!!!!?

RossK said...

Well NVG--

Guess that explains why it took him so long....After all, inking over so much type takes awhile.


Tony Martinson said...


Nettleton did not raise his ruckus over BC Rail. He raised concerns that the Libs were going to privatize BC Hydro.

Nettleton has shown some chops and deserves some kudos, but let's make sure we keep the facts straight. No Lib MLA made a public fuss over the sale of BC Rail, at least until after leaving caucus.

Anonymous said...

You know, sometimes something is intentionally written so that it will be corrected. Eg. RossK is 42

RossK said...


Your point is well taken, overall.

However, it has since become clear that Mr. Nettleton also, in his words, had both his trust and his confidence 'shattered' when he was informed, along with Pat Bell and Shirley Bond, by Premier Campbell of his arbitrary decision to privatize BC Rail very soon after the 2001 election..

We learned this due to the fine efforts of our good friend Mary.

This post, from the Spring of 2009 should serve as a good starting point if you would like to have a look.

And, for the record, this bit of digging by Mary was noted in the Globe at the time.


Tony Martinson said...

I will accept on the circumstantial evidence after the fact that Nettleton opposed the BC Rail sale. Given his own status as a backbencher in a new government, I will also not be critical that he didn't stand up on principle on the issue. Finally, my understanding, on the basis of what I've been told by a friend who has been on a first-name basis with at least one Prince George-based cabinet ministers for nearly two decades, is that Nettleton was, from the time of his first being elected, considered an outsider within the Lib caucus. (The information he was fed about what he perceived as an imminent privatization of Hydro - which never happened as he foretold - may well have been an internal ruse to ultimately roust Nettleton from caucus; a true Machiavellian scheme.)

I am, however, a persnickety type: dude was evicted from his caucus over his comments about the potential privatization of Hydro, not for his objections to the BC Rail sale. I like keeping facts straight.

RossK said...

Fair enough Tony - thanks.

(and I'll have to think about that 'Machiavellian scheme'...I always figured that Mr. Nettleton forced them to scale back the Hydro sell-off)


G West said...

@Tony Martinson;

You need to check your dates a lot more closely - and review Nettleton's actions and statements about both BC Hydro and BC Rail.

There's lots of material in Hansard if you take the time to look for it.

Nettleton's prescient statements about BC Hydro were made in a letter written to his colleagues on Nov. 13, 2002...more than a year before CN stole the Railway and long before the raid on the legislature.

His subsequent opposition to the sale of BC Rail was equally public..and equally correct - as events have shown with laser-like clarity....

You can ask Ben Meisner about that if you like.

kootcoot said...

Paul Nettleton, being of a fairly religeous persuasion also expressed his dismay personally to Gordo about Lara.............He thought the situation inappropriate for a party that professed "family values" and had stolen the leadership of the Liberal Party by exploiting the "moral lapses" of the previous Leader/Gordon!

Tony Martinson said...

G West, you're right - to a point - about the timeline. Nettleton opposed the BC Rail sale in the legislature.

That was after he was booted from the Lib caucus, however, for raising concerns about the potential Hydro privatization.

Nettleton himself says he was first informed of the scheme to sell BC Rail shortly after the '01 election - he said so himself in his letter published by BC Mary. He didn't raise the alarm at the time.

My point is not to rain on the guy's parade. Paul Nettleton is, by all accounts, an honourable fellow. I'm just pointing out that his ultimate sin, for which he was booted out of Eden, was raising the spectre of privatizing Hydro.

G West said...

I think both issues were important and motivating factors; Hydro came first so that's the issue that broke the camel's back - so to speak. But, the record makes it clear that Nettleton was equally exercised about the prospect of and the eventual sale of BC Rail.

If BC Rail had been first out of the chutes then I'm equally convinced Nettleton would have made that the issue which occasioned his principled stand..

As far as your metaphor for the Campbell Cabinet, from all accounts and by all appearances, it wasn't much of an Eden...I'm sure you remember what the CEO said to Elayne Brenzinger when she questioned his omnipotence.

We are dealing with a corporate sociopath (a character I like to call a 'snake in a suit' to riff a little on your 'Edenic' reference) and a man who thinks he has no equal and who is immune to self-criticism and allergic to ANYONE questioning him.

More on this later.

RossK said...

Fantastic conversation folks - and bringing the detailed timeline into it was most helpful.



RossK said...


I just noticed.....

I'm 42.