Saturday, December 29, 2018

Railgate Revisited v2 - The Charges.


As we noted yesterday, the Railgate saga 'officially' began on December 28, 2003, the day the British Columbia legislature was raided by the RCMP.

The charges, such as they were, did not come out until a full year later in December of 2004, which some cynics said conveniently ensured no trial before the following spring's provincial election.

Mark Hume had the story of the charges in the Globe and (nolongerEmpire) Mail:

One year after police raided offices in the British Columbia Legislature, two former ministerial aides and a third person connected to the government have been charged with multiple counts in a breach-of-trust investigation.

Former aides David Basi and Robert Virk are charged with three counts of fraud on the government, two counts of fraud and one count of breach of trust by a public officer, the B.C. criminal justice branch announced yesterday.

Aneal Basi, a public affairs officer in the B.C. Ministry of Transportation for the past three years, has been charged with one count of fraud on the government and one count of breach of trust by a public officer...


...A summary of the case against David Basi and Mr. Virk that was released in September alleged the two men had been trading in stolen government documents related to B.C. government plans to sell BC. Rail and Roberts Bank, a bulk coal-loading facility connected to the railway.

The case summary alleged that David Basi and Mr. Virk delivered confidential documents to a third party, apparently in the hopes of furthering their aspirations to win chief-of-staff positions with the Liberal government in Ottawa.

Police executed nine search warrants at the time they raided the legislature, including offices of public-relations experts and key Liberal officials in British Columbia. But in court documents subsequently released, police stated that only David Basi and Mr. Virk were the subjects of the breach-of-trust investigation...

Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk were the only subjects of the breech-of-trust investigation?

Sure thing.


At the time the charges came down in late 2004 the story was being covered pretty much exclusively*, by the proMedia and, as Barbara McLintock noted in the Tyee, their coverage, and the response it engendered in the general public was underwhelming to say the least:

...(W)hen three political appointees are faced with criminal charges pretty well unheard of in the province, the reaction should still perhaps be more than a polite yawn. The lack of outrage, both in the media and, it would seem in the B.C. public, over the accusations against Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi is somewhat remarkable.

One can only hope that the disinterested shrugs from the citizenry do not mean that a significant number of British Columbians have come to accept that bribery, corruption and money-laundering are just part of the way business is too-often carried out in British Columbia – as if we were some third-rate banana republic somewhere...


What were the few outraged Lotuslandians to do when nothing happened for years and proMedia outlet editors sent them letters like the following one that BC Mary received when she had the temerity to raise the lack of coverage with an esteemed editor:

Dear Ms. Mary:

There was indeed a pretrial appearance by Basi, Virk et al yesterday. Our reporter staffed the appearance, and nothing of note happened. As is the case in such instances, the reporter consulted with his editor and did not write a story. When there is news, we plan to report it.

Lucinda Chodan
Victoria Times Colonist
2621 Douglas St.
Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2

Why, according to the Glimmer Twins, Messers Baldrey and Palmer...

Form a cult!

*Except of course for Bill Tieleman, the left-sided prop man who pretty much played this one straight-up, initially in the GStraight  before he set up his own shop/blog...And then there was Sean Holman, whose PublicEye Online was just starting to build when the charges arrived (and were noted by him for posterity). 
We were extremely saddened to hear that Ms. McLintock passed away this week after 14 years with the provincial coroners' office.


Friday, December 28, 2018

Railgate Revisited v1 - The Trigger.


When the BC Legislature was raided 15 years ago today rumours of 'why' were already lifting off before the 37th document-stuffed cardboard box was hauled out of the infamous rockpile that a then very young 'A.B.C. Architect' (whose real name was Rattenbury) finished building in 1898.

And, as intrepid online Railgate chronicler-in-chief 'BC Mary' noted sometime later, the Horseman were quick to fan the rumour-mills flames:

When police entered the B.C. Legislature with Search Warrants on a quiet Sunday morning, 28 December 2003, they made history. Never before in Canada had police breached the sanctity of the people's parliament.

Public shock deepened over 6 days. TV News cameras had shown the 20 uniformed sergeants carrying 32 boxes of confidential cabinet documents away from the B.C. Ministries of Finance and Transportation. But no premier, no prime minister stepped forward to explain the meaning of this shocking event. Both Premier Gordon Campbell and Prime Minister Paul Martin simply said, "I know nothing."

Had it not been for RCMP Sergeant John Ward, the public would have been adrift. But Ward spoke directly to the people of British Columbia, recognizing the public's need to know. As if he knew nobody else would tell us much.

He said a drug probe had triggered the raid on the legislature. He said that the suspects are alleged to have been involved in an organized crime network exchanging BC marijuana for U.S. cocaine which was then sold throughout Canada. The public later learned that cocaine profits buy guns - guns for the international arms trade selling into Afghanistan for example.

Sgt Ward estimates $6 billion a year is sucked out of British Columbia in marijuana traffic alone. Organized crime has so much cash, it's weighed, not counted; money-laundering is a major concern for the criminals.

Sgt. Ward added "... the spread of organized crime in the past 2 years has been like a cancer on the social and economic wellbeing of all British Columbians ... it has reached critical mass." There's so much more to this story...

Interestingly, however, it turns out that a special prosecutor's office had apparently been working behind the scenes to sever the organized crime wing from the Horsemen-piloted flying rumour monger factory before it even took flight.

Bizarrely, that story came out almost five years after the fact, as noted at the time by the newly-crowned PropRep dragon slayer who has been known to pity any and all fools who rush in, Mr. Bill  (with a 'T') Tieleman:

The RCMP was directly instructed by a Special Prosecutor that “organized crime” had “not penetrated the B.C. Legislature” but used the phrase anyway to justify a December 28, 2003 raid there to seize documents, it was alleged in B.C. Supreme Court Thursday.

Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough, representing one of three former B.C. government aides facing corruption charges, read from a recently disclosed document that indicated David Harris, a member of the Special Prosecutor team, told the RCMP their planned news release was wrong two days before the raid...


What was it really about Alfie?

Stay tuned....

And, whatever you do ('every which way'-assisted or not)....Do not skip ahead and have a peek under 'The Big W'....OK?
Full Disclosure...The proprietor of this wee little F-Troop-listed (and always fully/overly hyphenated) blog was once featured (or, at the very least 'listed') in Mr. T's then definitive alphabetized compendium of all the Railgate players that then fit...Said compendium was published in the Tyee in on the fifth anniversary of the Ledge Raids....Which, of course, was still more than a full year before the actual trial began for real (allegedly).....


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Quid Pro Whaling Quo


A former local anti-whaling crusader is claiming victory in the fact that Japan is pulling out of the International Whaling Commission.

Charlie Smith has the story in the GStraight:

Former Vancouver resident Paul Watson says it's good news that Japan will withdraw from an international body that regulates whale hunting.

The government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says it is pulling out of the International Whaling Commission and will cease killing these animals in the Antarctic.

Watson founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which has been confronting Japanese whaling ships since 2002.

“We are delighted to see the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary," Watson said in a society news release. "We are delighted that we will soon have a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary and we look forward to continuing to oppose the three remaining pirate whaling nations of Norway, Japan, and Iceland.

"Whaling as a ‘legal’ industry has ended," Watson continued. "All that remains is to mop up the pirates.”...

But the bigger picture of those 'pirates' mentioned by Mr. Watson suggests that the news is not actually all good at all:

The following is from Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka writing for Reuters:

...The decision, some experts said, allows Japan to save the money it spends to support Antarctic whaling while taking a tough pro-whaling stance - a matter of national pride for some conservatives.


...Japan, which says most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is part of its culture, has long campaigned without success for the IWC to allow commercial whaling.

Some influential lawmakers’ constituencies include whaling communities, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s election district is home to the whaling port of Shimonoseki.

The decision to withdraw from the IWC followed its latest rejection of Japan’s bid to resume commercial whaling at a September meeting, which Suga said showed it was impossible to bridge the gap between whaling advocates and anti-whaling members...

Either way, whales will continue to die.

Which is not a good thing.


Just to be clear it just the good Mr. Watson who is cheering on this crass quid pro quo....Apparently, Australia and New Zealand are happy with Japan's decision as well...Then again, they have a pretty good regional reason for cheering the quidding of the pros and quos.
Update: It now appears that Mr. Watson realizes that he and his have been spun as he re-spins...This kind of stuff, in my opinion is why PR and Prop, in all of its forms, is what is really killing public discourse...On a whole lotta levels.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Beautiful Music Is Where You Find It.


While the worst of Hell Fall by Hellfall ended with classes a couple of weeks ago, our last final exam of the season was first thing yesterday morning in a windowless, bunker-type room on the other side of the hospital-industrial complex.

Once we had the exams all out and the kids all in I headed over to the cafeteria to get the TA's morning coffee.

It's a cafeteria I used to spend a lot of time in. In fact, once-upon-a-long-long-time-ago we even held lab meetings there.

But then, in the darkest days of GordCo, Inc. the sub-contracting began in earnest and I avoided the place like the plague.

However, thanks in large part to the persistence of the workers, a lot of what went wrong appears to be fixed now* so I have started to stop by occasionally once again.


Yesterday morning the place was pretty much deserted given that most of the students have already headed home for the holidays.

Which meant that it was just me, the lady at the till, and canned carols on the sound system as I added all the creams and sugars and honeys that gradual students everywhere demand in their coffee.

The whole scene was making me feel a little melancholy until I heard this beautiful sound.

It was coming from the lady at the till who was simultaneously counting her change, and she was amazing.

On my way out I told her that she was in the wrong business.

She just laughed and said she loves to sing.

The music was still in my head three hours later when we released the kids from exile and they headed out into their holiday hooting and hollering completely melancholy-free.

Kids today!

*Labour-expertish folks, please correct me if I'm wrong about this.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Keef Report....You Haven't Heard This One Before.

As much as it pains me to say it...

On this one I completely agree* with the good Mr. Baldrey.

All of which kinda/sort (but not really) has me wondering what Sporty Short's fellow Sportspageian alum David 'Spittin' Diction' Randorf has on the ghost of Ted Rogers' Christmas past.

Or some such thing.

You can find previous, and far less agreement-laden, Keef Reports...Here.
*Just to be clear, we're talking about John Shorthouse here...As for Cheech?...Meh.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Bright Side Of Life Is Not Just For The Young.


The holiday party season (family stuff excepted) is now officially over for me.

Five events over the last two weeks, only one of which featured the Doctors of Distortion backing Bigger E (that was last Friday night and my ears are still ringing a little).


I had convinced myself that last night's event was going to be the boring one. After all, a hundred or so academics stuffed into a room for five hours is not ordinarily anybody's idea of a raucous good time.

Except this year the olds showed some good sense when they stepped aside and let the gradual students run the show - and that included the food, the drink, the games, the photo booth that included a truly white-haired Santa with an acoustic guitar, the door prizes, and, especially, the music.

Once the phones and the polaroid camera (they're all the rage with the younger set these days, apparently) had been put away and I had shed red and white pile of cheap felt, I was chatting with one of the new students when the genius DJ kid slapped the Killers' 'Mr. Brightside' on the sound system and the place went berserk.

The student I was talking to, who happens to be from England, apologized as he sprinted for the dance floor, shouting back over his shoulder that when you grew up there in the 'aughts this was 'the song' in high school.

Fair enough, I thought as I joined in with everyone around me and started shouting the chorus at the top of my lungs.

Because, as everybody knows, all great anthems are for the young at heart, chronological age be damned.


I'm pretty sure the only reader 'round here who will get the sub-header on this one is the good Mr. Willcocks from across the water...Then again, maybe someone from Denton Texas will stumble on by...


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Haven't Done Your Duty On PropRep For British Columbia?

My excuse for being tardy has been this 'Hell Fall' by Hellfall thing that I've been pummelled by the last few months.

But now, with an assist from the friends, readers and relatives of Merv Adey, Andrew Seal, and the fine folks at The Tyee, I've made my final choices and filled in my ballot.

First thing tomorrow morning I will take it to the Elections BC office on Cambie right across from Oakridge just below 41st in central Lotusland*.

If you've been dithering you can do it too!

There's still time - you've got until Friday at 4:30 pm but you've got to take it directly to the good folks at E-BC.

You can find their nearest office, no matter where you live in our fair province....Here.

*Right before I head down to Long and McQuade to rent a PA...Doctors of Distortion have a really big show Friday night...Slowly but surely we are morphing into Bigger E's back-up band...Weirdly, fro a paternal point of view at least, I seem to be doing a lot of backing vocals on A Winehouse tunes...Need to work on my dance moves for that type of stuff though.


Monday, December 03, 2018

The Decline Of The US Republicans Did Not Begin In 2016.


On the occasion of passing of the patriarch of the Prescott wing of the Bush family dynasty, two most excellent American bloggers remind us that, despite what you have been hearing, seeing and reading in all the usually suspect proMedia organs, what has come to be called Trumpism did not begin with Trump.

First, 'Driftglass' on the reign of Bush I:

...George Herbert Walker Bush's dreamed of a GOP run as a gentleman's farm: orderly and well-tended by old-money, patrician internationalists. Maintained by loyalty and noblesse oblige. But Bush 41 was also perfectly willing to countenance putting every monstrous trait that has come to define the modern Republican party in-harness to pull the plow and bust the sod of his gentleman's farm...


...Any man who served Nixon and Reagan knew perfectly well what sort of volatile, radioactive ingredients that had gone into building the modern Republican party. And while Bush 41, gentleman political farmer, had no stomach for dirtying his hands by personally attending to the important business of rilin' up the grass roots bigots and the imbeciles, he was quote happy to job out that filthy work to the help. To ace Republican ratfucker, Lee Atwater. The same Lee Atwater who mentored Karl Rove and George W. Bush in the dark arts of bringing bigots to a fine boil and then getting them to the polls...

Second, 'Mike The Mad Biologist' on the reign of Bush II:

...(S)ome perspective is in order here: it was bad during the reign of Little Lord Pontchartrain, and many of the exact same things, such as bigotry and corruption were there, but many people didn’t see them. Hell, the plight of black New Orleans residents as they walked through white neighborhoods alone was every bit as racist and vile, never mind the cops who went ‘hunting’. It all didn’t suddenly go to shit in 2016, it was bad long before then.

Why does stomping out all the forgettery that is going down matter?

Because fine folks like, say, our own Mr. Frum are already quite far along on building the lifeboats to save all those fine and upstanding 'reasonable' Republicans for (yet another) day:

If you get my drift and/or madness in my own private biology*.


*Which, just in case you've ever wondered, is actually a really real thing, the biology I mean.


Sunday, December 02, 2018

The Greedheads Win! The Greedheads Win!


Yes, indeed.

It would appear that the greedheads have succeeded in gouging even more money out of our collective Lotuslandian back in return for yet another half measure.

Joanne Lee-Young and Lori Culbert have the story in the VSun.

Here is their lede:

Two business tycoons waged a little-known and vicious battle in and out of B.C. court over six empty Yaletown lots, assessed at a pittance because for three decades they have been designated for affordable housing.
The high-stakes feud quietly escalated in B.C. courtrooms over several years, pulling in heirs, related companies and executives from the two sides. It dragged some reputations through the mud and, at times, left Vancouver city officials hanging in the middle.
For 30 years, the lots on the north shore of False Creek have lain dormant. But last month, the city announced a deal with Concord Pacific to build 650 affordable units on three of the properties while allowing the developer to build market housing on the other three. The city will not say how much money it will receive in the deal or why it will not proceed with the original vision — promised in 1988 when Concord bought the Expo 86 grounds — to create a mixed-income community with low-rent homes on all six lots...

It's a solid piece that I hope leads to even more solid editorializing to fill in the backstories that matter.


There was one passage where I would have liked a little more detail, which was the following:

...Some observers, such as former city planner Larry Beasley, argue the plan is a good one for the city. “Now, there will be prime sites in the very core of the city for low-income and middle-income residents,” said Beasley.

Today, he said, there is more acceptance of affordable housing projects with greater density, making it possible to build the same number of promised units on just three lots rather than six.

Beasley was involved in assessing the six sites to see which ones would be better suited to take on more density for affordable housing and which ones might be, for example, too close to other buildings...

What else did I want to know?


Given that he was involved in the 'assessing', I, for one, would sure like to know if the good Mr. Beasley was speaking purely for himself here or if he was speaking in some capacity for one of the players.

I don't ask this in an effort to cast aspersions - it's just that knowing would help me, a lowly reader, decide what I think of the deal.



Hey!....'Hell Fall' by Hell Fall is now officially over for me...So, expect, maybe, some more regular pixel punching 'round here in the coming weeks...I'll explain later.
Update: Sam Cooper has more, on a potential 'agenda' re: those linked to CoV who like the deal,  on his twittmachine feed.