Time to call in the RCMP? Has Enbridge offered bribes?

Imagine if a company, let’s say a casino company, offered money to a council member or three in a recalcitrant Municipality in exchange for support for its casino project. We’d call it bribery, and criminal proceedings would almost certainly take place. Now tell me how this is different:

The Council of the Haida Nation published on Facebook a letter alleging that Enbridge has offered monetary rewards to individual hereditary chiefs in exchange for support for the Northern Gateway Project . Here is an excerpt from the letter:

“Enbridge has attempted to elicit written support from Haida Hereditary Chiefs through two Term Sheets. Under the Term Sheets, Hereditary Chiefs were offered monetary rewards in exchange for written support for the Project (Northern Gateway Pipeline – ed.) which was intended for public distribution.”

 

The full Facebook link is here : https://t.co/ixTCQtk5fm

Given that the Haida Nation is represented by its full council, and rewards have allegedly been offered to individual members of that Council, (quote, “the CHN incorporates the band councils and the Hereditary Chiefs”) , tell me how this doesn’t constitute bribery?

Update October 24 2016: It’s now been clarified through continued examination by Discourse Media that the money flowing through Enbridge to the councillors went to a Trust Fund for the councillors to use for cultural activities. Questions about secrecy and accountability remain. Two of the Hereditary Chiefs who signed these term sheets have been stripped of their status. This has not happened in Haida Gwaii in hundreds of years and happened only once in BC in the last century.

Not just what we do , but how

George Orwell has never been more relevant to what American and Canadian society needs to think hard about. The novel 1984 put forward the notion of a perpetual, vague war as one means of controlling the mass of people, and ensuring support for a government.

Is this any different from what’s happening with the Conservatives treatment of the ISIL threat in the middle east? The Conservative Bill C-51, which has just passed against the advice of such radical organizations as the Canadian Bar Association, is heralded as a way to give our security forces the ability to slow the radicalization of youth and prevent terrorism within our own borders. Among other provisions (warrantless arrest and detention), it makes it an offense to disseminate terrorist propaganda. It’s hard to argue against that on the face of it. Nobody wants our young people becoming suicide bombers. Nobody.

But the growing support for the NDP federally is directly tied to a principled stand against C-51. A thoughtful populace is increasingly suspicious of the motives behind the bill, and questioning of its necessity, believing our current laws have been adequate to the task.

Many of us see C-51 as part of a discouraging trend to the hyper-partisan, in which the political goals of the party are paramount , and principles of fairness and justice are abandoned by governments.

This week, with the release of an attack ad which includes an ISIL video, the Harper Conservatives have fulfilled everyone’s fears. The video arguably violates the CPC’s own law, C51, and also may violate the Geneva convention by putting the execution of prisoners of war on display while they die.

C51 is now demonstrably not a bill to make us safer, or prevent the spread of dangerous ideas. It is a bill to be used as a tool, where necessary , to intimidate , dissent. It is a bill the Conservatives will ignore themselves, when they see a partisan opening, and use against their opponents when it suits them.

Contrast that with Obama in a Charleston church this week, facing down the true face of terrorism in North America. Obama, helping a community move past the death of nine of its own , including a state Senator, spoke of grace. The president  recognized that the struggle against misguided , violent , ideology continues, but it’s not far off, somewhere else, but in our own communities and our own hearts.

Contrast Obama’s response to Harper’s response on the release of the “Truth and Reconciliation” report. I dare you.

We don’t need the events in the middle east to scare us.

Rather, we need to be more scared by what our own governments are doing, and how political parties are waging their natural war on each other. And the worry should come as much from how governments and parties are accomplishing their ends as from what they are up to.

Another case has sprung up in Ontario in which the Liberal government there is accused of deleting sensitive records directly related to a lawsuit by a wind power company. That’s in addition to the famous “Gasplants” scandal.

The Conservatives in Ottawa stand accused of deleting gun registry records at a time when the Privacy Commissioner had warned against it, and then passing a law to make that action legal retroactively.  The Senate is rushing through an anti-union measure, and over-ruling its own speaker in the process.

In BC, soon, we may have a report from a Special Prosecutor involving election fraud. The BC Liberals “quickwins” plan, was a plan to transfer voter data of multicultural communities from the government to the party. None of the government investigations went so far as to discover whether this happened , via private email, by digging into the party operatives at the other end of the plan.

I’ll be fascinated to find out more. Because at the federal and provincial level, it appears party operatives can get their hands very dirty indeed in the pursuit of electoral victory. Two BCLiberals face elections act charges currently. The BCLiberals Executive Director, Laura Miller, has been named in a probe of deleted records in the office of the then Premier of Ontario (Gasplants). When that story broke, she apparently was refusing further interviews with the OPP without an immunity deal.

Voters of any persuasion should be aware not only what policies will be pursued should government be formed, but also aware of the rules and principles each party is willing to break to win.

Orwell warned that an alternate history could be created by relentless propaganda. Let’s not go down that road.

 

Deleted emails a problem for Feds as well as BCLiberals

CBC reports on investigation into the wrongful deletion of emails in the Prime Minister’s Office, here http://t.co/4fwYZ4kuZv .

The national relevance is demonstrated with the disappearing Ben Perrin emails, which later resurfaced, on the Nigel Wright-Mike Duffy scandal playing at a federal courthouse near you in August.

Provincially, the Clark government is also under investigation by our own Privacy Commissioner.. For background, see my earlier post here http://www.bcveritas.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=31&action=edit .

No telling how the federal or provincial examinations will go , but it’s pretty clear both levels of government are really not interested in telling us how political decisions are made. The abuse has become so blatant that even quite routine matters are under the shroud of “no records” response. (Calling Todd Stone: No records of public meetings on the Highway of Tears issue? Really?)

Here’s a question.. If political offices, including the office of the BC Premier and the Prime Minister, believe the thought process behind political decision making should be hidden, who do they think they work for? There is a tradition (and law) that “advice to cabinet” can be redacted. There is also a tradition that cabinet discussions should be private.

But the examples above have nothing to do with those traditions. And there is a vast difference between the redaction of records (subject to appeal and reversal by the Privacy Commish) and the deletion of uncomfortable history.

Here’s a thought… a government in which political damage control is a default position, rather than even a lame, dishonest response to legitimate pressure, has outlived its usefulness and must be defeated.

 

Zero Accountability

Let’s face it. All the waffling from Suzanne Anton, Terry Lake and other BC government over a further review into the health firings scandal is nonsense of the worst kind.

Due to the terms of reference and the fact she could not require testimony under oath, Marcia McNeill’s review of the matter in the fall of 2014 was doomed to fail. “Everybody pointed fingers at each other”.

Now, we are told the cabinet is looking at ways to “get as much information out there for the public as possible while protecting people’s privacy”. So let’s call that what it is. The cabinet is looking at ways to delay, obfuscate and cover up while pretending to address the issue that a witch-hunt happened on their watch. We don’t know who ordered the witch-hunt or why, and Premier Clark is apparently determined that we never find out.

The missing piece in all this is accountability. This sorry business happened for a reason. The RCMP’s confirmation that nothing was ever forwarded to them that warranted a criminal investigation confirms that that reason was political. The idea that the cabinet’s hands are clean and it was just the civil service doing their jobs badly is pathetic.

Christy Clark, your people need to be forthcoming. This one isn’t going away. Your administration needs to own up, can the people who should be canned, including cabinet ministers. You need to clean house. Perhaps you need to resign.

 

What’s the Standard CBC? Del Mastro , Moore, Meredith

On CBC’s At Issue panel last night there was shaking of heads from the country’s leading pundits over Dean del Mastro being led to a police van in handcuffs for being convicted of gaming the electoral system.

I almost understand it. To see someone who was once Harper’s right hand man brought so low is sad. But he did it to himself folks. And to my mind, having followed the reports of electoral cheating by the Conservatives for a decade now, it felt good to see that video. It’s about time someone who was once high up the political food chain pay some consequence.

Discussion then proceeded to the electoral horse race, and the people who have decided to spend more time with family.. The most prominent recent departure would be James Moore of course. The panel wondered why in Moore’s case there was no “thanks for your service” message from the PM. And it is strange….It’s as if Moore let the PM down in some way.

The fact is there’s a story running around about James Moore having an affair with a staffer. The reporter Matthew Millar found her cellphone and made some deductions based on its contents. A story appeared in Frank magazine (a satire sheet), but nowhere else. Yet the story is well-known. The staffer now works for Christy Clark.

The Panel knows all this. So we have the spectacle of all sorts of allegations in the public realm regarding Senator Don Meredith and his shenanigans with a 16 year old, but a cone of silence over James Moore. The line at which the press gallery balks is apparently “two consenting adults”, even married ones. Fine. I get that.

But it’s too cute by half (and embarrassing to watch) to pretend you don’t know all the reasons why Moore stepped down. A seriously ill child (I take that at face value but the panel didn’t mention it) and a raunchy affair.

To be sure….del Mastro belongs in leg irons for abusing democracy. Moore does not.

Your 1-Stop Shop to Counter Corporate Spin

It’s arguable that BC is no better off with independent blogger Norm Farrell. (Northern Insights)

Norm has been posting statistics and graphs to counter the BCLiberals, and their corporate sponsors, for years. It’s an amazing effort by one retired accountant to balance what we’re told with an alternate view based on governments own published statistics.

Yet the BCLiberals are still in power.. Job growth is flat (among the worst in the country since Christy took over) . Income growth for most of us is negative in real dollars. GDP growth is lower now than under the hated NDP. Value of exports, and in particular, resource exports, is way up, but revenue to the public treasury is way down.

In the words of an elated Gordon Campbell (2002), “BC is open for business”. But all the activity is benefitting society (health care, education.. etc) as little as possible.

No single post Norm has done is more telling than this one. Read it. Then ask yourself why these numbers aren’t in your daily fishwrap. http://northerninsights.blogspot.ca/2015/06/remembering-desperate-nineties.html

What’s Happening in the Furlong Case? Global Won’t Say

First of all, my interest is how media covers cases like the one unfolding over the past week as reporter Laura Robinson sues Olympic 2010 CEO John Furlong for defamation.

Last night at 6 PM Global BC began its coverage with an inaccuracy.. Chris Gailus:: “Opening arguments were heard today in the defamation suit..”(etc).

No, the case was a week old when you said that Chris. Laura Robinson had spent time on the stand in the previous week outlining her travels, the people she talked to in Burns Lake and in Ireland, researching John Furlong’s past.

Then John Daly, who has been live-tweeting the trial daily, came on to explain John Furlong’s side of the story. Without examination.

History: The Georgia Straight published an article written by Robinson quoting allegations made by First Nations people that Furlong had been verbally and physically abusive while he was a gym teacher there about 1969. These allegations were supported by sworn affadivits from 8 of 30 people who are on the record.

Furlong sued the paper and the reporter. In the meantime, the CBC did a report the same day that also reported alleged sexual abuse. Furlong did not sue the CBC.

Three people came forward with allegations of sexual abuse, none of whom were part of the allegations published by the Georgia Straight. When those cases were dismissed, Furlong dropped the suit against first the paper and then the reporter. Why?

In court, according to the reporters who have been there, Furlong said he wanted to put it all behind him. He felt exonerated “in the court of public opinion”.

But at the moment, Furlong is not on trial for abuse of FN people, during a time in Canada he notably did not include in his biography, Patriot Hearts.

He is being sued for defaming the journalist, Laura Robinson. It would be wonderful if the Global BC report last night at 6 PM had addressed this question. Did Furlong defame her?

Watch this video of the news conference Furlong gave the day the story was published:

https://t.co/GuurUNbEyI

He speaks of Robinson’s alleged vendetta against him. He speaks of allegations, including “sexual abuse” which Robinson certainly knew about, and certainly pursued in the research for the story, but which had not been included in the article. This apparently was an editor-level omission, to be sure.

Furlong tells a story of being blackmailed.. “For a payment, this can go away”.

In the court last week, it was made clear that blackmail attempt , if it happened, did not come from Robinson. In fact, Furlong met the attempted blackmailer in the company of Olympic board member Dan Doyle (who has been part of the Clark government as well). At the end of the meeting they shook hands, and parted.

But in the video linked above, there is no separation of the blackmail attempt from the narrative of the reporter who has been out to get him. So, did Furlong defame Laura Robinson?

That’s what the trial is about. Was she negligent and prejudiced in her research? The Global, John Daly, report last night June 22 did nothing to answer that question.

I’m very very aware of the damage scurrilous reports can do to reputations. I am not here to judge whether or not Furlong behaved badly in 1969. I don’t know, and while no winners are in sight in this story, I would very much want the truth to cause the damage rather than lies.

I am here to ask if it’s wrong that Laura Robinson tried to give the people behind the 8 sworn affadavits against Furlong a fair hearing. And I’m wondering if Laura Robinson is getting a fair hearing in our press (acknowledging that the print press has done a better job representing the trial).

Furlong is a club member, highly connected, camera savvy, sympathetic, and a gifted story teller. Should that mean his story is automatically given unequal weight to those FN people who have said things against him, and as Jesse Brown of Canadaland points out, opened themselves up to criminal prosecution if they lied?

Read Jesse Brown’s take on the treatment of the FN people, and Laura Robinson, by the MSM, here  (then I’ll add , for balance, a part of the story I find troubling for Furlong’s sake)

http://t.co/IoVEDn9ZrV

It came up at trial today, that Laura Robinson was connected years ago with  Globe and Mail story alleging prejudicial treatment of black candidates for the Canadian National basketball team coached by Ken Shields. That story was retracted and an apology published.

While I’m away and you recover from #yogagate

Check out this from Laila Yuile http://lailayuile.com/2015/06/12/om-the-bridge-cancelled-premier-is-going-to-namastay-home-but-dont-fret-official-un-international-day-of-yoga-events-were-already-planned-elsewhere/

And I can’t leave you without this exceptionally good podcast interview by Mike Smyth (who is unusually calm and balanced here) with the fired health researcher Ron Mattsen. Please listen, and join the calls for a public inquiry.

http://t.co/BdQhlicgsJ

 

And check out the blogs Northern Insights. Pacific Gazette and everyone on their blog rolls

That’ll change things..citizenship… and a blog break

 

First : this will likely be my last post for about 12 days. Thanks to everyone who has read my posts so far. Agree, disagree, share, not share? All appreciated.

I have an embarrassingly ubiquitous twitter profile ( @MervAdey ) . The truth is, over the past couple of years I’ve spent far too much time on that social media platform, but I’ve found it enormously useful for links to the news and blogs I like to follow. It’s been both addictive and instructive. It has been my way of becoming a citizen and an activist, but is it effective? More on that below.

Most media people are on twitter, sharing links to their stuff, interacting with the interested public, and just being social. Following media pesonalities has been a different kind of education. Most are polite, but visibly overworked and one can sense the frustration of not being able to do justice to every story. The activity of media happens at a faster and faster pace. I’ve developed a quite strong empathy for the challenges newsfolk face. If one were to dig up every illuminating detail and fact-check every news release, one would miss the story making news today while buried in yesterday.

Sometimes, the private attitudes held on issues can be illuminated. It shouldn’t be astonishing that reporters and pundits have their own views and biases, independent, but normally suited, to the companies they work for. Sometimes the debate (within the horrid limitations of 140 characters) is impressive. Sometimes it’s ridiculously shallow.

Tom Fletcher is relentlessly pro industry, and unabashedly so. That’s his right and he works for Black Press, whose owner wants to build an oil refinery on the North Coast (at least so it was said back near election time). But debate?

If environmentalists chain themselves to trees, he might ridicule them for having petroleum products in their clothes…how dare they wear boots with rubber soles! If they form a flotilla of kayaks, these are petroleum based kayaks. Enough about Fletcher.. he’s not a bright light.

Sometimes, and it’s comparatively rare, one sees an attitude toward citizenry which is disturbing. The BCPOLI hashtag on twitter is noisy, unconscionably rude, diverse, angry, and often funny. There are people there advocating, singing to any number of different choirs, and attacking opponents with short verbal sabres and short verbal baseball bats. Some are being paid by political parties, most are not. I am not. It’s difficult to be restrained, to pause and think before posting.

The other night one of my tweets was noticed.. It called for the Health Minister to resign until the Health Researcher firings scandal was resolved. There was a time when Ministers were honor bound to take responsibility for ethical or other failures within their purview. That time, it seems, is long gone.

A prominent media personality tweeted at me . “That’ll shake things up. Talk about inflated ego! Why don’t you call for some other things?” .

That’s intemperate, and it disrespects the value of active citizenship, but here’s why I’m not naming the name: there is no point. When I post on social media there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of people who agree, and likely, often, more who disagree.

I have to recognize that the attitude toward citizenship displayed by my critic is also widely shared. Yet I wonder if it’s shared by the corporation he works for?