Saturday, January 9, 2016

"Veritable sewer of skullduggery"

I published the following piece about two years ago. It came to mind after I noticed Black Press writer Tom Fletcher claiming on Twitter that the Shawnigan toxic waste dump on a hill, above a watershed, in a rainforest, is A-OK; that reporting observations of uncontained runoffs is mere political rhetoric and that contaminated soils dumped above Shawnigan Lake may not actually be contaminated.


Note the last few paragraphs in this article because it explains why some promedia scribblers are quick to serve vested interests and dump on people not eagerly doing the same. Purported journalists in the dying news industry have limited choices to stay employed and being in favour with government and industry is the best way of keeping alternatives at hand and avoiding unwanted retirement. It's called paving an exit road.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Reading through Diane Francis' 1988 book Contrapreneurs, from which the title of this piece is taken, I noted repeated mentions of a person who was, for more than a decade, indisputable bête noir of white-collar con artists in British Columbia and beyond. Former Vancouver trader Adrian du Plessis had developed qualities, says Francis, that separated him from Vancouver Stock Exchange colleagues: honesty and courage. Refusal to facilitate improper stock manipulation and a decision to blow the whistle got him fired from the investment industry. It also led him into working more than a decade as an investigative researcher and independent analyst of stock frauds.

In days before the 1999 creation of Canadian Venture Exchange (now TSX Venture Exchange), even people putting money into the Vancouver market knew it was a place of dirty stock deals, operated primarily for the benefit of member-owners. Respected Sun business writer David Baines wrote that BC's regulatory system in those days had much more bark than bite. Baines could have added that the most most heard sound around the VSE was not a bark, it was "Baaaaaa" from newly shorn investors.

Adrian du Plessis took on difficult foes when he struggled to hold investment companies accountable for frauds engineered or tolerated. This was not David vs. Goliath, it was David vs. a platoon of Goliaths, many who moved in circles of the province's most powerful. When the whistleblower turned full time muckraker, his opportunities for expression were limited. The internet was in its infancy; major journals such as Newsweek considered it a near useless "wasteland of unfiltered data."

Newspapers, then as now, cared more for their own financial interests than for ambiguous public interests. Many investor journals and newsletters were operated by outright shills, paid to promote deals of questionable value. They aimed to be cheerleaders, not critics of the markets. Stockwatch, a reputable service operated by John Woods, employed du Plessis for a period of time but was pressured by the investment community to end the relationship. Threats of violence, even death, were aimed at the man.

Probably the riskiest campaign waged by du Plessis was one involving a man the BBC called the Billion Dollar Don. Semion Mogilevich has also been called boss of bosses of Russian organized crime syndicates and, about the time that du Plessis interfered with his operations, Mogilevich was described in American press as the most dangerous mobster in the World.

Panorama, a British current affairs program, reported on YBM Magnex, whose shares soared from pennies when launched on Canadian stock markets to over $20 in just two years.

After being asked to investigate, du Plessis told BBC investigative journalist Tom Mangrove,
"What I was able to determine about YBM from the documents was that Semion Mogilevich
was an original founder and a controlling interest and in a sense, the brains or the eminence grise
behind the construction of YBM Magnex..."
The Panorama transcript continues,
MANGOLD
Once Du Plessis had burrowed deep into the paperwork, the true pattern of YBM's dealings
became clear.

DU PLESSIS
YBM was a mix of reality and fantasy, illusion, a sham that at its core had some businesses
but was also engaged in a range of things that were entirely fictitious and in other ways very
dangerous and illicit.

MANGOLD
After Du Plessis published his findings the FBI raided the firm's HQ, the company soon
collapsed and went into receivership.

DU PLESSIS
In early l998, YBM was valued at almost a billion dollars Canadian. That paper is all
worthless now. The bottom line is the public lost tens of millions, maybe hundreds of
millions, in YBM.
Not surprisingly, after YBM, du Plessis ended his role as public protector. His work had been admired internationally and he helped expose a gigantic fraud that involved important players in Canada, including a former Premier of Ontario. Yet, his concern for victims of a corrupt financial system made certain he was anathema to those who reported on or benefited from that same system.

By now, readers may be wondering if there is a current day point to this history lesson. Well, of course there is.

I would like you to remember that at times, communicators outside the corporate media are vital to revealing truth. Newspaper publisher Postmedia, operating at a loss and heavily indebted, will not spend money to examine the markets in which its American owners gain power and rewards. Governments that prefer to believe businesses should regulate themselves will never dedicate sufficient resources to materially disturb their friends and sponsors. Think tanks and, increasingly, the academic world depend on powerful financial interests to enable their activities. As taxpayer supports decline, commercial interests become paramount. Fewer voices speak on behalf of the public.

According to journalism professor Robert McChesney, by 2010, PR agents in the USA had come to outnumber professional journalists by a ratio of four to one. One of the PR conglomerates, WPP Group, based in London, employs about 160,000 people worldwide. Former Vancouver Sun legislature reporter Jonathan Fowlie recently joined Hill + Knowlton Strategies, a unit of WPP. Perhaps even more significantly, H&K works for Enbridge and numerous corporations very interested in favourable treatment in media.

Newspaper writers and editors, faced with continuous downsizing, understandably keep eyes on alternative employment. Canadian radio and television outside of Ontario is largely devoid of journalistic capability and, more importantly, opportunity. These conditions can result in paving of exit roads, which means making friends and establishing relationships that might be helpful in the future. Favours given today are favours returned tomorrow.

These facts are not ones that all people employed in corporate media care to acknowledge. Claiming to hold the legitimate wisdom, they do not appreciate criticism in any form. Instead, some hope to strengthen their current situations by casting aspersions on members of alternative media who add points of view to public debate. Always, the pro media's denunciations are not specific but the generalized pejoratives are repeated.

When you consider points of view, consider whose interests are being served.

Recommend this post

25 comments:

  1. Brilliant! Exceptional! Astute! Edifying...

    ReplyDelete
  2. The mainstream media are paid shills for whoever advertises, thus they have become managers of the news. The MSM have now so manipulated the news that it is no longer news, rather a parody of the world.

    The sad fact is, what was once the fourth estate is now Herr Goebbels central, by repeating lies so often they have become truth.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Best hit that Donate Button again, you all!

    ReplyDelete
  4. If memory serves, a former BC premiers propensity for 'insider' trading led eventually to the demise of the VSE.

    He was charged by the TSE to answer for his 'windfall' profits but refused to enter Ontario to face the music.

    Some of this ill-gotten gain was used to purchase a sizeable chunk of farmland in the middle of present day Kelowna which is surrounded on three sides by orchards and on the fourth side by the city, but is 'protected' by the ALR from 'development'.

    His offspring, who was a significant force in the recent election and current constituency of our current premier, now wants the farmland 'removed' from the ALR as he deems the land 'inaccessible'.

    My bet, given his 'connections', is that Kelowna will soon have many more condos and malls on the 'inaccessible' farmland.

    ReplyDelete
  5. With papers/tv/radio(msm) looking at bottom line (with risk of journalism lite ?/pr journalism ?)and legislature being shut down for half a year.Bloggers are more relevant than ever.A healthy democracy demands a healthy dialogue that witch bloggers provide in place of traditional sources .Maybe more raw content but at least its there.Public comment with less filters.
    thank you

    ReplyDelete
  6. There's bad apples in every bushel. It was W.R (Bill. Bennett that got caught with insider trading. The VSE was infested with spectulators and "The Big Deals on Howe Street" was pretty much the game as the VSE traded in penny stocks, not the more valuable stocks traded in the TSE.

    Labour Pension plans are supported by stock investments and mutual funds.

    I would disagree that bloggers are more revelent than ever. Like MSM, they are selective in what they present, and quite often have their own prejudicial "take" (hardly neutral), there's no inherent responsibilty that affects their livelihood (does what the blog opinion writer write good bad affect his paycheque? Hardly). and I would say even more so, because since they want their own audience and support base, and of course want the proverbial sounding board as we have here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. However unwittingly, you just provided a very good argument for the relevance of bloggers.

      You think it’s okay that Bennett “got caught with insider trading” because the VSE was infested with speculators anyway and traded in penny stocks and not something more valuable? Just another bad apple in the bushel of provincial premiers so we should look the other way? I think not.

      You say, “Labour pension plans are supported by stock investments and mutual funds.” Okay, what’s your point? Workers should shut up and let the big boys play with the funds any way they want to even if it’s illegal? I think not.

      You think the inherent responsibility of a journalist is to write based on how it affects his or her livelihood? Really? I think not.

      Seeking the truth is the inherent responsibility of a journalist. I suggest you look up the journalistic creed or even the code of ethics an organization like the CBC to see what a journalist should aspire to achieve. It may surprise you to learn that “paycheque” isn’t mentioned. Unfortunately their actions indicate many MSM “journalists” of today would be similarly surprised, which makes the true journalist increasingly more relevant. Even if that journalist happens to be a blogger.

      Delete
  7. One sees former advisor to the provincial NDP,Brad Lavigne, as a regular contributor on Power and Politics on CBC identified as a rep of Hill and Knowlton. I give up. Thanks for the reminder of DuPlessis..we need his kind now more than ever.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I offer this little gem, which is excellent in getting people's knickers in a knot.

    “If you tell a SkyTrain lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The SkyTrain lie can be maintained only for such time as the province and TransLink can shield the people from the political and economic consequences of the SkyTrain lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the province and TransLink to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the SkyTrain lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the province and TransLink.” A reworked quote from the father of modern propaganda, the notorious Joesph Goebbels.

    You would never see such a quote in the mainstream media and in fact the MSM rarely do any honest reporting on transit and to keep TransLink's ad money rolling in, say very little negative about transit like:

    * SkyTrain is near capacity because of small station platforms and lack of power supply to operate more trains.
    * The cost per revenue passenger is one third higher than Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto.
    * The mode share for cars in the Metro Vancouver region has remained the same at 57% since 1996, despite a $9 billion investment in mini-metro.
    * The Canada line is not a SkyTrain ALRT/ART transit system, rather it is a conventional heavy rail metro, built as a light metro and is incompatible in operation with the SkyTrain ALRT/ART system.
    * Because the Canada line has short, 50 metre station platforms and can operate only two car trains, the Canada line has less capacity than a modern streetcar, costing about one tenth to install!
    * Fare gates do not stop fare evasion, unless they are manned.

    And on it goes........

    The MSM ignore or suppress these facts and still portray those who ask for modern light rail, as people from the tin-foil hat brigade. The blogger is the new media and by the sear weight of posts, the MSM's message is being drowned in a cacophony of real news, invented news, scandal and muck raking.

    The MSM has a stark choice, either report the news and the truth or disappear in a fog of contempt, hubris, debt and lies.

    Zwei doesn't but the Sun because the Sun has never ran an honest story about light rail and until they do, they will never get a dime from me.


    ReplyDelete
  9. excellent article. How very true. I wouldn't trust the MSM to report on anything important. they don't appear to know the truth if it hit them in the face. For important information, I find it best to check blogs. yes, blogs do have a slant, but they are in the most part, honest about it. That is very different from the MSM who continue to harp on they just supply the news. They only supply the news which is of no interest to people who want to know what is going on in their country. If you were to depend upon MSM for news you would actually believe B.C. is doing well. After the news came out about B.C. having the highest child poverty rate in Canada did any of the msm do an ongoing exposee about it? No, and they won't be. They give Furlobg a pass. Well actually they acted as his P.R. firm. No investigative journalism here. the msm reports on car accidents, traffice messes, shopping, gang activities. They fail to report on the worst gang in B.C. though, the B.C. Lieberals.

    ReplyDelete
  10. anon @ 8:46 AM sez
    "If memory serves, a former BC premiers propensity for 'insider' trading led eventually to the demise of the VSE.

    He was charged by the TSE to answer for his 'windfall' profits but refused to enter Ontario to face the music."


    and anon @ 12:02 sez

    "It was W.R (Bill. Bennett that got caught with insider trading. The VSE was infested with spectulators and "The Big Deals on Howe Street" was pretty much the game as the VSE traded in penny stocks, not the more valuable stocks traded in the TSE. "

    Neither one of you have a clue what you are talking about. The only accurate fact in both is that it was indeed Mini-Wac, or burst blood vessel face (likely from alcohol) Bill the second Bennett premier and certainly not the best one who was caught up in insider trading....after he was out of office.

    Actually it wasn't penny stocks. it was Doman shares (and Doman himself was involved in the crooked trades). The stock was listed on both boards at the time and a big time stock as Doman was one of the larger building material companies in the country at the time. They had inside information of the collapse of an expected profitable merger/buy out and even had the added satisfaction of dumping much of the overpriced stock on the BCTF pension fund.....a double coup for SoCrud/BC LIEberal/right wing types as the teachers had to eat the loss.

    Just as scandalous as the insider trading was the fact that the VSE came to their rescue and rushed to prosecute them, thus saving them from far harsher sanctions that the TSE would have imposed, but couldn't due to the principle of double jeopardy.

    This is just from memory, but I'm sure if your memory is so bad, or so biased, the information is still out there about this, one of so many scandals we can thank our reich wing crooked governments that have ruled BeeCee most of the time since the early fifties. It would seem that B.C. residents are either simple minded or gluttons for punishment as this May proved yet again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Globe & Mail reported in autumn 1996:

      The B.C. Securities Commission this week found former B.C. premier Bill Bennett and his brother Russell guilty of insider trading during Oregon-based Louisiana-Pacific’s unsuccessful attempt to take over Doman Industries eight years ago.

      In a long-awaited ruling, the BCSC concluded that Vancouver Island lumber baron Herb Doman tipped off the Bennett brothers just before Louisiana Pacific withdrew a bid to pay $12 a share for Mr. Doman’s company early in November, 1988.

      The Bennetts sold more than half a million shares in Doman Industries at $11 a share before the close of trading on Friday, Nov. 4, netting an estimated $2-million profit, the commission said. Doman shares reopened for trading the next Monday at $7.75.

      The commission banned the former premier, his brother and Mr. Doman from trading in securities or from “being a director or officer of a public company” for 10 years.

      The three men were acquitted of criminal charges in the case in 1989.

      Flash forward: In 1999, after unsuccessfully appealing the ruling, the Bennetts and Mr. Doman agreed to abide by the BCSC’s sanctions and pay more than $1-million to cover the cost of the investigation.

      Delete
    2. Let's not guess about personal behaviour of people gone from the public stage.

      A person's face might show broken capillaries, which is telangiectasia rosacea, and those can result from alcoholism but there are other causes and factors too. Not all alcohol abusers have rosacea and not all people with rosacea are alcoholics. I don't know if Bennett did or did not drink to excess in private time but I know of no observed behaviour that would convince me he did.

      NDP MLA Dave Stupich suggested publicly that Bill Bennett may have been acquainted with scotch whisky on his morning cornflakes but Bennett sued Stupich for the comment. The lawsuit was successful and Bennett was awarded $10,000.

      Delete
    3. Yes Norman "The Bennetts sold more than half a million shares in Doman Industries at $11 a share before the close of trading on Friday, Nov. 4, netting an estimated $2-million profit, the commission said. Doman shares reopened for trading the next Monday at $7.75.

      The commission banned the former premier, his brother and Mr. Doman from trading in securities or from “being a director or officer of a public company” for 10 years."

      I would also add that long-respected Herb Doman took the heat for this malfeasance. It was also considered by many that whole affair had a significant affect on his health. Neither MIni Wac or Nefarious Roy raised a finger to assist Herb who handed them a bonanza.

      Delete
  11. Might want to recheck your own facts. Bill Bennett was not heavy into alcohol as you allege. In addition it is true it was shares in Doman (which was never mentioned as being penny stocks, the VSE traded in corporate shares such as Doman, Doman had several aspects to his business, not only building materials, there was also a woodchip operation and a trucking company in addtion to the Duncan lumber mill operation. They also had forest harvesting fir a time. The VSE had a large volume of penny stocks. Herb was a long time friend of Bill Bennett (which isn't all that new - to counter, the NDP's Dave Barrett had many friends in Big Labour.

    Might want to work on memory enhancing excercises.

    ReplyDelete
  12. OK Norm, it was the BC Securities Commision. But as I recall, they dodged a bullet as the TSE or Ontario Commision wasn't able to sanction them and their sanctions would have been more severe and more likely criminal.
    I really fail to understand why this kind of behaviour gets a pass and so often isn't considered "criminal." If I steal a candy bar and get caught I'm liable to criminal charges, but steal millions, hey just a mis-understanding!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Maybe I was out of line to assume young Bill was an alcoholic. But I saw him more than once, especially during the summer of Expo as I was there a lot, either performing music or taking my boys so they could fill uo their passports. He struck me as a relatively sad drunk who realized he would have never been in his position without the chance to ride on his father's accomplishments, though he would still have been materially successful.

    Although I wasn't a fan of W.A.C. during his last years in power when I arrived in B.C., over the years I've come to admire his vision for the province and what he accomplished, not just for the Bennett family, but for the whole province and it's people. To see Christy trying to hitch her wagon to Wacky's legacy was disturbing as from my point of view, her and Gordo have spent the last dozen years tearing down everything that Bennett Sr. built to gift their sleazy friends and donors. Wacky's rhetoric and his actions and accomplishments were diametrically opposed and he would be considered a socialist by tea-bagger types on both sides of the 49th today. After all, he nationalized a railroad (since stolen), most of B.C.'s hydro capability (being destroyed by the Campbell/Clark gang) and the Ferries.....not to mention all the other infrastructure that he had built by and for the public for the benefit of all British Columbians!

    ReplyDelete
  14. "Maybe I was out of line to assume young Bill was an alcoholic. "

    I would say you're way out of line.

    "But I saw him more than once, especially during the summer of Expo as I was there a lot, either performing music or taking my boys so they could fill uo their passports. He struck me as a relatively sad drunk who realized he would have never been in his position without the chance to ride on his father's accomplishments, though he would still have been materially successful. "

    Your prejudice is showing through on that statement.

    Christy hasn't hitched her wagon to WAC's legacy as much as you think neither her nor her brother Bruce or any of her inside friends were part of Bill Bennett's party.

    The ferries were not nationalized, they started off initially as a seperate entity from Black Ball ferries, eventually buying Black Ball's equipment and terminals. Black Ball was never an in-BC company it was owned by a prominent Seattle family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh...because "Christy hasn't hitched her wagon to WAC's legacy as much as you think neither her nor her brother Bruce or any of her inside friends were part of Bill Bennett's party." - you imply innocence....talk about "Your prejudice is showing through on that statement."
      Ever hear of a pot calling the kettle black?

      Delete
  15. Two things have become apparent to most people in this province, and indeed this country.

    One, corruption in politics is becoming more excepted, even more so, the norm. The Quebec Crime commission opened this issue big time.

    The MSM in this country no longer investigate or deal with political issues, if they in anyway conflict with the corporate agenda, or corruption, the exception being the Senate scandal. That is a political football, that seems to be out of control.

    Our reputation as a modern democracy has been severely tarnished by the Ford debacle, the Senate fiasco, and other political scandals both federally and provincially. Most outside of Canada wonder what has happened and why we the average Canadian are putting up with all the malfeasance. You could fill an entire correctional facility with politicians from the past 20 years, who should be found guilty for all kinds of offences relating to political scandal.

    ReplyDelete
  16. In the latest Twitter spat showcasing his legendary objective journalism last night, Tom Fletcher confirmed both this post by Norm, and the Huffington Post article in the link below. He took the government’s side (surprise!) on the Shawnigan toxic waste dump (it’s a fake story) and hurled insults at the Opposition (grandstanders), writers at TheTyee (pimps), Raffi Cavoukian (washed-up self promoter), and Raffi’s musical work (catchy like influenza). One lady responded to one of his many insults by stating “What an extraordinarily mean-spirited & petty comment.” He likely took it as a compliment.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/matt-price/david-black-kitimat-refinery-tom-fletcher_b_6129448.html

    The exalted heights of writing copy for the cover used to bundle advertising flyers for the Black Press flyer delivery business must be going to his head.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great Article, thank you!
    about the only way to get the truth out to the public these days would be to run your own ads on t.v. or in the newspapers, because the MSM just doesn't report "news" anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  18. If anything the MSM has gotten worse; Bill Boring is gone, well sort of; Palmer and Baldry are still the governments mouthpieces. CBC is going down for the count and Global/CTV are not even worth turning on.

    The Sun rivals Pravda and the Province is lost. The weeklies have largely become right-wing goody two shoes papers where only the "right" new is reported.

    It is a mess and the public, well a one Herr Goebbels said it all; tell a lie often enough and the people will begin to believe it.

    In BC it is "I beleive".

    ReplyDelete
  19. This article is from today:

    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Hydro+paid+most+dividends+using+borrowed+cash/10723965/story.html

    ReplyDelete
  20. I will leave this up to tour investigative skills Norm, but the article I pasted below seems to indicate that the contaminated soil from Vancouver used to go to Mt. Polley and I suspect that murray edwards owns the trucks and the contract to relocate to Shawnigan Lake and given the financial support from murray edwards to both harper and clark, this may also explain why no criminal or environmental charges are coming in the Mt. Polley spill.

    http://www.nationalobserver.com/2016/01/18/news/environment-canada-issued-warning-mount-polley-mine-disaster-fois-reveal

    ReplyDelete

COMMENTING

This is an archive only of items published before April 22, 2016. These and newer articles are available at:

https://in-sights.ca/

If you read an article at this blogger site, you can comment on it at the new site.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.