The Unmentionables

This morning, former ministerial assistant Bob Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough read from an email allegedly sent on March 11, 2003 by the premier's press secretary Mike Morton to then senior political aide David Basi. According to Mr. McCullough, the email stated, "Thanks Dave - I'll let the Premier know your team is in place, whereas MM's is not. The Premier will be on John McComb's show - there will be a call-in." That email is said to relate to defense claims of media manipulation on that part of the provincial Liberals. Asked for comment, Mr. Morton said, "Again, at this stage, it's before the court. And I'm absolutely not making any comment on anything that may be coming out of the courts."

"There's going to be so much...skuttlebutt that may come out, that will come out, that could be accurate, may not be accurate. And I'm not going to comment and the premier's not going to comment," he continued, adding that he and Premier Gordon Campbell will answer questions "at the end of the trial." Mr. Morton declined to comment on current media manipulation activities by the Liberals.

9 Comments

I am astounded at the depths that the BC Liberal Party has allegedly sunk to.

Yes, the Libs have a long and shameful history of outright misrepresenting themselves to the media. Remember Warren Betanko? AKA Paul Reitsma - a BC Liberal. Now they are alleged to have set up fake protests at Dipper conventions in defense of fish farms? Yea, somethin is fishy...

If this had been the NDP, Canwest and Mike Smyth would have had kittens over it. NW would have engaged the emergency broadcast system. Let's just wait and see how the mainstream press reacts to the Liberal deception. Anyone wanna take a wager?

Does anyone believe Gordon Campbell didn't know this was happening? Anyone?

I am so angry at this betrayal of the public trust. Let's see if the media goes for the jugular like they should on this whole stinky mess.

I am hoping despite past precedents that our media demonstrates more honour than our government. Then again, follow the money. CN, Canwest all Gordo's donors.

First we had the "plumbers" - now we have the "posse" - what's next - gaps in the tapes?

If I was on that wiretap, I think I would get some get some legal advice pretty damn fast.

Imagine.... what else was said in a "private" conversation?

"I am astounded at the depths that the BC Liberal Party has allegedly sunk too," offers md2001.

It only appears that they are sinking when you compare them with other political parties.

In actuality, these guys, whether ou call them Liberals, Socreds or the Generic right-wing coalition, have always had quite lowly in their pursuits.

I'm just a little astounded that anyone is surprised at all by the actions of this political dynasty, which always seems to end up with the mainstream media cleaning up the rough edges that somehow get left dangling so often.

And I suppose neither of the former cabinet ministers who left to when this boil first popped, have had anything enlightening to say about the recent allegations.

"In actuality, these guys, whether ou call them Liberals, Socreds or the Generic right-wing coalition, have always had quite lowly in their pursuits."

Also consider that they obviously don't want to
learn from previous mistakes, esp. those made by
the Social Credit VanderZalm blind loyalists or
those who were so blindly loyal to Campbell's errors made in the 1996 provincial election.

It's more of a few allegedly wanting to earn political points, by pumping up 'artificial' support for the Premier, or they get so wrapped up into it, that they get irritated if there's an opportunity to say negative things about how the Premier runs things.

If Campbell was smart, he would tell BC Liberal Party headquarters people to leave the call in shows alone or pack their personal items and get out.

The BC Liberals should have known better, but obviously didn't learn from Reitsma's "Warren" act.

But there has been worse from a few people at
BC Liberal Party headquarters, as has been reported here on Public Eye.

This is not surprising, but it is deeply troubling, especially when placed in the broader context.

For democracy to function, the free competition of ideas is as essentialy as is competition to a healthy market economy. When any group is able to control the message to a significant extent, both within and outside government, the system is at risk. We need only look at the recriminations now underway in the US about the case for the Iraq war.

I'm obviously politically naive, but I've been stunned by what I've seen the past six years or so in trying to advocate for kids with special needs in the MCFD and Education portfolios (I can't say if it was better or worse before--I wasn't there). When you start by firing half the Ministry staff, as they did at MCFD, and by imposing deep cuts on school boards, as they did in Education, it sends a strong signal to the remaining bureaucrats to forget about objectivity, public interest, even "patriotic criticism" and just do as they're told. That's the first stage of message control--when the bureaucrats stop being up-front with the public.

I saw the second stage of message control in the consultative process leading to CLBC's creation, with what was - in my opinion - an effort to skew the picture of public/stakeholder views to "manufacture consent" for a preconceived agenda. (I work in this field, so I know how it works when you genuinely want to listen and learn.) The results of that are clear today. As much as I resent what the Premier has done, I'd guess that 99.9% of CLBC/MCFD critics would have chosen any day to make him a hero instead, if it meant getting it right for the kids.

The third and most frightening stage of message control happens when you start seeing that same carfully-planned message reflected in the mass media, in an effort to manufacture public opinion.

For the political operatives, it may just be like the old Spy v. Spy comics, but I know that when it's been about our issues, those callers have been brutally demoralizing for families and individuals with very legitimate concerns, who concluded that it was no sense even speaking up because society didn't care. The result is that many have quietly been driven over the edge, and I refuse to believe that our society would have allowed that to happen if there was a free and objective flow of informaion.

I'm not denying that a ruling party has every right to make its case and defend its actions. But a line is crossed when they act deliberately to prevent opposing arguments being heard, whether it's muzzling bureaucrats, manufacturing consultations, or allegedly trying to falsify public debate. These revelations are egregious because they simply represent the tip of the iceberg.

Dawn makes a good point.Liberals devolve Ministries into Corporations and then mismanage the rest by delivering their platform messages that the opinion of the involved stakeholders will always come first and foremost. Then once the perceived ownership and "go live" of a publically funded corporation takes place and appointee's are dropped into jobs funded by you and I, the story is different. Bottom line at this point then becomes - when they own the information, they can bend it all they want. I think they must think they own the information cause they certainly do bend it all they want. This leads to the system being at risk that Dawn mentions above.

Sounds like BC Liberal headquarters need a complete office cleanup. I think the first head that should role is President of the party, Mickey Patriluk's. Where was she when all this was happening?

"Sounds like BC Liberal headquarters need a complete office cleanup. I think the first head that should role is President of the party, Mickey Patriluk's. Where was she when all this was happening?"

Probably reassuring Kelly Reichardt that he's doing an excellent job as Executive Director as persual.

That office should have been vacuumed out a long time ago.

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