BC Mary has taken an exceptional interest in what is being billed as the biggest political scandal in the history of British Columbia. Since the infamous raid on the BC Legislature through to the current pre-trial discovery period, clearly one thing has remained oddly consistant.
The inconsistant media coverage of developments throughout the ‘Railgate’ scandal.
Very few British Columbians are able to follow the progress of the Basi-Virk case ,or even hear of any major developments – due in part to the lack of coverage by our province’s largest media outlets.
Which leads me to ask this question:
Why is the biggest political scandal in the history of B.C. – one that is capable of taking down the premier and most of his fellow Liberals – being consistantly ignored by the largest media outlets in our province? Why are so many people being left in the dark?
In this outstanding editorial, BC Mary struggles to find the answer. Re-printed with permission.
If CanWest had been doing its job, maybe BC wouldn’t be in this mess
It started off OK … remember that full front page of Vancouver Sun completely taken up by those 27 Questions, perfectly reflecting the frightened thoughts of British Columbians whose Legislature had just been taken over by police?
For a while, things were as they should be, with BC’s flagship newspaper giving voice and quite a bit of printer’s ink to major concerns, such as “Was organized crime operating within the BC Legislature?”. Then, within a year, any mention of the historic raid had almost stopped.
What happened? What went wrong? Why were British Columbians — so uniquely dependent upon CanWest for almost all news — left in the dark? Or worse: told that 30 uniformed police sergeants hauling files out of their Legislature was nothing to worry about?
1) Les Leyne’s columnon March 3, 2009 in Times Colonist says it all in its title: “BC Rail Case buried in political trivia.” Political trivia, eh? Yeah, sure. “Nuthin’ to see here, folks, just keep movin’ along please ….” Thanks a lot, CanWest.
2) The Jasmohan Singh Bains trial, about which CanWest published nothing for 6 months. Then an astute citizen overheard a remark about it during a Basi Virk hearing (Dec. 2008). He looked around the Supreme Courtroom, saw no media, and decided to tell BC Mary.
Frankly, I couldn’t believe it. It took me 2 days to verify the story … scarcely believing my own eyes when I found it was true: the Bains trial had taken place in Victoria in June 2008 … just down the street from the Times Colonist newspaper office. And not a word had been published in 6 months. Nothing.
Why do I think that’s significant? Very, very significant? Because:
* it was Jasmohan Singh Bains and others, who police were investigating when they raided the BC Legislature.
* it was while police listened to wiretap conversations between Bains and Dave Basi that they heard of BC Rail hanky-panky.
* Bains, at the time, was thought to be Mr Big of Drugs Trafficking on the West Coast.
And that is one hell of a lot: Especially now in the first third of the new year when shootings and killings in the Lower Mainland are a regular, almost daily occurrence. And when B.C. is being linked to the huge drug cartels causing Mexico’s apparent meltdown.
You think maybe the people of B C are concerned? You think maybe they expect their media to make an attempt at covering more than the self-serving news releases of police forces (police which are clearly out of their depth)? You think people haven’t noticed elsewhere that “Gang violence in B.C. is linked to Mexico drug wars“?
Well … I broke the Bains story on Dec. 11, 2008. Not CanWest. BC Mary broke “Mr Big’s” story right here on The Legislature Raids. My headline read: JASMOHAN SINGH BAINS SENTENCED TO 9 YEARS and I fully expected Google to pick that up, and that the wider public would be informed. Ha! Apparently that’s not how it works in B.C. anymore.
Two more Bains-less months passed by. Plenty of street chaos, nothing about Mr Big.
Quietly – except on the streets of the Lower Mainland and the suburban expanses of the Fraser Valley. There the silence continued to be broken by the wail of sirens and the chatter of small arms fire. [Tell me something: do we honestly imagine that criminals don’t know the Bains story? and that they don’t high-five and rejoice in their apparent immunity?]
Then something I said to Ian Mulgrew caught his attention. He promptly wrote a column headlined: “Drug dealer linked to legislature raid imprisoned” and gave me credit as his source.
God knows how Mulgrew — calling the trial “a key victory against a cocaine ring” — got his column past all the roadblocks and into print, because it hadn’t happened before and it has never happened since. To this day, nobody mentions it in CanWest print. But I’m pleased that many other, small news media have reprinted the story.
We’ll hear more about Bains during the Basi Virk Basi / BC Rail trial. The thing is: we’ll probably have to be there in the courtroom to hear it, or we’ll have to read about it on these blogs. That is, unless a new owner is publishing The Vancouver Sun, The Province, or Times Colonist.
So … doesn’t this explain why CanWest news media is facing such a drastic financial crisis right now? Isn’t it proof that they can’t fool all of the people, all of the time? And that maybe they should stop telling people that 8,000 pages of confidential government documents (which they obviously hadn’t read yet) are trivial.
Let no one forget that all 8,000 of those secret government documents are available now, at only a five minute walk from Sun and Province headquarters … but not one serious story (not even a ensible word!) has been published by CanWest.
Time for CanWest to notice that people are mad as hell and they aren’t going to take this kind of “news” any longer. CanWest has been part of the problem in B.C. Now it’s time for a genuine news service to become part of the solution.
– BC Mary
Read ongoing coverage of the BC Rail scandal and the Basi-Virk trial at her blog : http://bctrialofbasi-virk.blogspot.com/