One of the crime scenes

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When in Opposition:

Accountablity + Transparency = Cornerstones of Democracy

Once forming the Government:

Accountablity + Transparency = not so much!

Accountability and transparency, words that tumbled from the lips of the Soup Nazi like drops of water over Niagara Falls during his days in Opposition. But has the very definition of these words changed in the new millennium or just the "convenience" of these once so highly praised goals? A post to consider these issues will follow shortly.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Justice is Blind,       
and Mute!

One of the most irritating aspects of the whole BC Rail-Basi-Virk-Basi-Legislature Raids affair has been the tendency of our compliant, or complicit, media to totally ignore the whole shebang. Then when they do feel the need to pretend to be a free press serving a free society, most of their coverage has so much spin, one gets dizzy trying to read it. I want to exclude our friend Bill Tieleman and some of Michael Smythe's coverage from the previous castigation. Then there is Robin Matthews who has spent perhaps more time, energy and brain power (luckily he seems to have a lot of that) trying to SIMPLY get at the truth of what went down and why.

Usually with Robin's stuff I just post maybe a teaser and then links to either BC Mary's blog or Vive le Canada for the rest of Robin's work, but the letter below is so to the point and so deserving of being read and understood by every citizen of this province that I am going to publish it in full (I hope this is ok with Robin). Any bolding that wasn't in Robin's original (or Mary's posting of it) will be followed by a little (kc). A copy of this should be stapled to every tree and power pole in BC and be required reading to be served at the BCLCB.

Read it and Weep British Columbia.

5xx Sxxxxxxxx Drive,
Vancouver, B.C., V5L xxx,
[June] 7, 2007

Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett,
The Law Courts, 800 Smythe Street,
Vancouver, B.C., V6Z 2E1

cc. Chief Justice B. McLachlin, Supreme Court of Canada; Chief Justice Donald Brenner, Supreme Court of British Columbia; The Honourable Robert Nicholson, Minister of Justice, Canada; Joe Comartin, MP, NDP Justice Critic, House of Commons: Marlene Jennings, MP, Liberal Justice Critic, House of Commons; Libby Davies, MP, House of Commons; Leonard Krog, MLA, NDP Justice Critic, B.C.; B.C. Civil Liberties Association; Court Officer H.L. McBride; William Berardino, Michael Bolton, Joseph Doyle, Andrea Mackay, Kevin McCullough; Press/Media; others.

Dear Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett:

I received two letters from the Supreme Court of British Columbia on June 5, 2007 (dated May 29 and May 31) related to the right of access by Canadians to court documents on public record especially as they relate to the Basi, Virk, and Basi (criminal) matter with which you are presently seized (a matter fraught with implication for the government in power in B.C.). I believe the letters may entangle the writer (and probably others) in falsehood, communication of misinformation, calculated discourtesy, and an attempt to "bureaucratize away" any fair request by Canadians for information that should, without impediment, be supplied. Reasons for that disturbing situation must, I am afraid, be examined.

Canadians look to their higher courts as bastions of fair-mindedness, openness, impartiality, and transparency. We expect from our high court officers a quality of behaviour that gives them the right to the title "Honourable". We do not expect from them political pandering and partisan decision making.

The particular matter in question is of wider interest than the Supreme Court of B.C. or of the particular matters relating to the accused: Basi, Virk, and Basi. It involves, I allege, (and I write this with the greatest pain and reluctance) an attempt by judges of the Supreme Court of British Columbia (yourself among them) to remove the fundamental and long recognized freedom of Canadians to examine and to possess documents on public record in criminal proceedings as a matter of fundamental importance to the just and the honourable and the open conduct of British Columbia society. To encapsule the absurdity of that totalitarian move, no Canadian is able to review (and to possess if he or she should wish) transcripts of the day to day open court transactions in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matters as they have been conducted from, say, February 26, 2007.

As your amanuensis H. L. McBride wrote (on your behalf) to me as a solution to that problem (April 25, 2007): "The courtroom is open; you are free to attend the proceeding, as is any other member of the public".(kc)only 500 miles from my house!

What she is saying (on your behalf) is that to know what occurs in that important public tribunal - the Supreme Court proceedings involving the highest public interest and possibly destructive State malfeasance - a Canadian must attend every moment of it and must somehow (an impossibility) be able to record everything that occurs - because the officers of the court are going to provide no access to transcripts of record. Her latest letter to me (on your behalf) informing me of a new, added, highly bureaucratic complex of absurd steps to be taken in order to have a request for access to documents even considered is so obviously a measure of calculated obstruction that it is insulting.

That very dangerous step and the general gag order constitute, I sincerely believe, a totalitarian move to insure public ignorance which serves - intentionally or not - to protect wrong-doers in the society(kc) (in this case perhaps wrong doers who might be found at the highest levels of political power and activity in the Province).

The two letters were in reply to letters I addressed to you and to Chief Justice Donald Brenner containing questions about (a) the so-called Practice Direction of Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm imposing an almost universal and odious gag order on materials on public record in Criminal Registry of the Supreme Court of B.C.; about (b) your particular and "special" protocol for access to some documents in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter presently before the Supreme Court; and (c) about the particular and formal request I have made to you to examine and hold some of the documentation on public record.

The letters I received in reply contradict earlier information I was sent, suggesting - at the very kindliest - confusion in the administration of the Supreme Court. The letters, moreover, withhold courteous assistance.(kc) In addition, they take for granted that my formal request to you (which I was advised to make by the court officer in your name) is wholly inadequate (which it isn't). She states that according to "Supreme Court Criminal Rules", I "(or your counsel) must complete Form 1, serve the application on all of the parties and appear to speak to the application." She does not include Form 1 for my use.(kc)To do so would have accorded me the barest measure of courtesy which should be granted to any Canadian calling upon a Supreme Court for responsible communication. Her discourtesy is a sign of "attitude", of intention.

I conclude (a) the "Supreme Court Criminal Rules" referred to in the letter are part and/or extension of the intolerable and odious gag order Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm has imposed on almost all matters of public record in Criminal Registry.

I conclude (b) the labyrinthine procedure put in place has been maliciously constructed to dissuade Canadians from seeking information they have an undoubted right to possess.(kc)

I conclude (c) the mere fact of the labyrinthine procedure having been constructed is an admission of the part of the senior Supreme Court officers that they do not have the right to deny access to matters on public record.(kc)bingo!!!

Finally, I conclude (d) that the increasingly complex fabric constructed to prevent Canadians from gaining access to material on public record (held in Criminal Registry) - which it is their fundamental freedom to request and to have supplied to them without delay - has been constructed to deny a fundamental freedom of Canadians and to do so - I am reluctantly forced to deeply suspect - on behalf of criminal interests in the Province.

Indeed, I specifically asked Chief Justice Donald Brenner to "conduct a full review of the repressive protocol [of Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm] and write a letter to me (that may be made public) to state your findings." That request is general and does not bear specifically on Basi, Virk, and Basi matters. The Chief Justice is not only free to answer that request, he is honour bound to do so. The letter of H.L. McBride on behalf of the Chief Justice (May 31) postures in such a way as to pretend that question was not asked of the Chief Justice. It was asked, carefully, on two separate occasions. The refusal to admit that the question was asked is an obnoxious and insulting form of obstruction.

I wrote above that I may have been lied to on instruction from you and the Chief Justice. That is a serious suggestion. On March 30, 2007, H. L. McBride, Supreme Court Law Officer, wrote the following to me on your behalf: "If you wish to obtain access to other documents which may be contained in the court file, you must make a request in writing to Madam Justice Bennett or to the Chief Justice."

On May 20,2007, I wrote to you a "formal request" asking permission to have such access. (My first letter to Chief Justice Brenner for access was April 1, 2007; my second to him was May 21, 2007).

In reply dated May 29, 2007, H.L. McBride wrote: "If you wish to obtain access to the material - you must invoke the Court's formal process which is established by the Supreme Court Criminal Rules. Pursuant to the Criminal Rules, you (or your counsel) must complete Form 1, serve the application on all parties and appear to speak to the application".

That is a completely different set of requirements than was conveyed to me on March 30. Why? Am I being lied to? I am afraid the answer (on the face of it) is obvious. A first "put off" letter was tried and failed. When I undertook to write the kind of letter H.L.McBride described, then a tougher, more complicated kind of "put off" was employed to insure THAT NO PERSON MAY LOOK AT DOCUMENTS AND TRANSCRIPTS TO WHICH CANADIANS HAVE AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO GAIN ACCESS. If I were to complete the requirements most recently set out by your amanuensis, doubtless I would be denied access on a technicality; or a further, illegitimate hurdle would be placed in the way.

In addition, H.L. McBride writes: "Madam Justice Bennett cannot and will not make any decisions with respect to access to material filed in this proceeding unless and until a formal application is presented to her". I suggest to you that Madam Justice Bennett WILL not make any decisions, but that H.L. McBride is failing to tell the truth when she writes Madam Justice Bennett "cannot." The power of a Supreme Court judge is sufficient, I suggest, to provide you room to deal with this matter simply and expeditiously if you want to do so. "Madam Justice Bennett, in fact, can make decisions with respect to access to materials." H.L. McBride, I suggest is, in fact, conveying a falsehood.

You are choosing, I suggest, to place every difficulty in the way of Canadians (for whom I have requested permission to gain access to materials) because you have chosen to support the intolerable, odious, and totalitarian gag order imposed by Associate Chief Justice Dohm on almost all documents placed on public record in Criminal Registry of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

So strange and contradictory have been the replies of your amanuensis H.L. McBride that she may be thought - by many reasonably fair minded people, I suggest - to be incompetent or dishonest. Whatever the case, her juggling of matters to suit whatever convenience seems useful at a particular moment does little to inspire confidence in her or in any with whom she is associated.

I am certain that your concern for the good name of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and for the integrity and transparency of all matters in which it engages is as great as mine is. I am equally certain you are deeply concerned that the public interest must be served by the Supreme Court of British Columbia fairly, transparently, impartially, sensitively, and with a fundamental concern for what ordinary people call "decency". For that reason I ask you to refer again to my request to you of May 20, 2007, to gain access to daily court transcripts in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter and to gain access to the 14 affidavits made in recent weeks by (mostly) police officers. I make that formal request again here; and I shall look eagerly for your reply (through an appropriate court officer, of course).


Robin Mathews

If all this is "just fine" with everyone, I don't want to hear any complaints in the future about freedom, democracy or (start the laughing machine) access to information, even when we are freezing in the dark so hair dryers can run free in Phoenix, Arizona.

P.P.S. footnote

The stars must be lined up in Plagaries (the sign of Plagerism) today, for me. Anyhoo, I just ran over to Mary's (for the late and/or breaking) and a piece of one of her comments was so cool, I just have to share it here with anyone who might not find it there.

During the past week, I've been told by two B.C. working journalists (who get paid for their work!) that this web-site is having an effect. Both insisted on anonymity. Do these words fit together: - real journalists - too frightened to speak - must remain anonymous?

'Nuff said

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Where's the Eggs?
Let's Get Cracking!

note from kootcoot:

I intended to post this yesterday, and though little in British Columbia is of more importance than the trial involving a railroad I dare not name (according to StoneWally), things came up that WERE important to my more immediate day to day life in God's country, otherwise known as the Kootenays. But since I had written and thought through most of it already, I am going to publish it today anyway, even though much has happened since yesterday morning. I will even pre-date it, to when it should have been posted - I'm the "deciderator" here. So if you have any problems with this little "dishonesty," get over it!

After a week or ten days break, Justice Bennett, the gang representing the two Basi boys and one Virk and Special Prosecutor (so special nobody can even see him) Bill Berardino (maybe) or his representatives gather again today to consider pre-trial motions in the BC Rail Trial. I guess there is no need to rush a matter in which it took about a year to file charges, two years to release just 80% of the information in the original warrants and apparently forever to actually achieve disclosure.

Those few of us who seem to be paying attention are on tenterhooks, hoping this isn't the day that Justice Bennett says, "enough ----ing around, case dismissed. These poor snivel servants have long ago lost any chance to have a speedy and fair resolution to these charges." My own view is that the right of the rest of the people in British Columbia to know what has been/is going on far outweighs the right of three cutout fall guys to a speedy trial. I'm confident BV and B could speed things up anytime they chose, by simply sharing what they know with the court and the public.

I also like to think that a certain "ferret" and his cronies are experiencing a bit of anxiety as well, wondering what revelation will tumble forth from Courtroom 54 next. Other than being glad this particular ferret isn't in my pants (tho he has been in my pocket), I have a total lack of sympathetic concern regarding said ferret.

The "Appearance" of

Access to Information

As one who spent part of his childhood meeting cows in the dark of early morning to extract their milk and a large part of his adulthood rattling around in a crummy in the dark enroute to the next patch of forest slated for devastation, sometimes I get up pretty early without even realizing it. Thus, this morning when I poured a cuppa joe and accessed the Court Services Website to verify that indeed the BVB Follies were on the docket, I was greeted by this announcement:

No sittings for this location

Then I realized that it was only 5:30AM and if you refer to the banner above, that this site had last been updated on 3-June-2007 at 20:00 PDT - or 8:00PM Sunday evening to normal people. But then I started wondering, a curious mind is a blessing AND a curse, why would they update the court schedule on Sunday evening? It seems to me that there would be no information available then that hadn't been available on say, Friday.

Then I had an idea, maybe they need to make sure no information is lying around left over from the previous week. The public had it's chance to access that information last week and I totally support paying some web guy to come in on Sunday, to make certain that I don't have access to any information longer than absolutely necessary. We all know that information is a dangerous thing.

Since BC Mary and I have brought the very existence of this website/resource to the attention of our readers there have gradually been subtle changes in the way it is administered. I've complained previously about the uselessness of waiting until 6:30 in the morning to find out if there really is any reason to go to Robson and Smythe if you live say, in Abbotsford or beyond. But it is even more insidious than that, or at least it appears that way to me.

When Mary and I first started referring to Wally's Website the only Court Houses on that day's schedule, with the exception of the odd error, were ones in session THAT day. Now every day, every one of 108 court houses are listed everyday, and that doesn't include the inexplicable courthouses called things like "Z008_-_Not_Valid-" or "2007 - Error." Those never seem to have "sittings at that location," I've checked. Thus to practice "due diligence" one must open every location, just to see if it is busy that day. Of course Basi, Basi and Virk events have on occasion been filed under the wrong courthouse, though in the schedule it gives the right location. However it takes patience and/or luck to discover what is happening in the Vancouver Law Courts on Robson when it is listed under Williams Lake or Nanaimo.

Is it in the public interest to appear to make information freely available to the public who pays for it and is affected by it, but in reality try to make it difficult to find and available so late and for such a short time? Don't tell me about server space. Storage space is cheap, cheap, cheap. This is the government that can build RAV and Sea to Sky. Yahoo is completely ending all storage limits with their "free" email accounts, so I could back up my hard drive there if I could bear with the upload time. Though maybe they would draw the line at 50GB or so. I haven't been able to use my 1GB in ages, and I store pics there so I can show them to people when I'm at their house.

In spite of all the platitudes the Soup Nazi mouthed about open government when he was in opposition, I get the impression that the business of our government is none of our business!


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