Vaughn Palmer vs. Bob Mackin

Under RossK’s admonition over at the Pacific Gazetteer I went and read Bob Mackin’s take on the BC Liberal’s last month.  Then I read  Vaughn Palmer’s.

Mackin crushes it, while Palmer skates over the disasters that were.

I think Palmer is a very well informed and authoritative pundit.  But he has a blind spot a mile wide and the comparison to Mackin puts it in high relief.

Mackin tracks the disastrous policies and announcements of the last while and lets the actions speak for themselves until van Dongen puts the meaning to them.  It’s a show not tell piece.

Palmer tracks the politics.  It’s all tell and little show.  The authoritative voice has lost touch with the actual things that are driving people away from the BC Liberals.

In an odd way Palmer is just like them…  The roof, the Telus deal, BC Rail questions about the Premier, an orchestrated confrontation with the teachers, lies about transit and available pots of money – these are all just the normal day to day stuff.  No point getting your knickers in a knot.

But the game!  It’s all about the game in Palmer’s piece.  Who’s saying what.  Who’s up, who’s down.  What the other BC Liberal politicians are saying about the Premier.  The content is far less explicit, the reasons for the politicians’ unease are understated.

There is no anger about what is taking place, just polite observation.

Don’t get me wrong.  Palmer hasn’t written a bad piece.  Nobody can say he isn’t covering the Premier’s troubles.

It’s just that he isn’t saying what needs to be said.

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13 Responses to Vaughn Palmer vs. Bob Mackin

  1. John's Aghast says:

    I’ll endeavor to stay on topic, if Enbridge and BC Rail are topical matters.

    The ‘sale’ of BC Rail in 2003 has been controversial, mostly so since the abrupt cancellation of the trial in 2010. At the heart of the matter was the ‘lease’ of the line to CN Railway for a purported 1 billion dollars. There are rumours that the cost to CN was as little as $500 million, but who knows. (Better still, who’s going to tell?) In any case, the ‘value’ of this 2320km 0f railroad wending its way through the mountains, complete with trackage, rolling stock and a trained fleet of operatives was between $215,000-430,000 thousand per kilometer.

    On the other hand 1150 km of Enbridge pipeline, bounding over hill & dale is rated to cost $5.6 Billion, or $4.87 million per kilometer. (By the way, ‘bounding over hill & dale’ is cheaper than ‘wending its way through the mountains’.)

    Sure, ten years have passed, and politicians salaries may have doubled, but TEN to TWENTY times more expensive, and NO rolling stock or trained operatives!

    Makes you think that Enbridge needs to take a course on pipeline construction, or perhaps that the BC Rail was ‘sold’ for a song.

  2. Merv Adey says:

    John, to be fair, I think that’s apples and oranges. The BC Rail track already existed, having served us wll for decades. The Enbridge line will be built from scratch through some serious terrain (unless we succeed in stopping it – my hope).

    Ian’s comparison of Mackin to Palmer is apples to apples – and Palmer shrinks in the comparison.

  3. Leah says:

    It has become apparent to me that if we want “news” and “truth”…we go to bloggers for it. I learned that lesson from the likes of Palmer (who I used to trust years ago, because I could)…Baldrey and Leyne. I’ve not included Smyth, he seems to be trying to fight his way out of the liberal coccoon.

  4. Nota bene says:

    Excellent and fair analysis again Ian, and great points from the three who posted in reply. This blog is a pleasure to read.

  5. John's Aghast says:

    Merv, it matters naught when it was built. My point was to evaluate the worth of the structures in todays dollars. The BCR had some formidable terrain to negotiate, with a fixed grade. Pipelines are not bound by that restriction. They can go up,down,over and through. Much cheaper, and I too hope they don’t have a chance to prove it.

    Anyway, my point is that BCRail was given away, NOT sold.

  6. Merv Adey says:

    John, On your last point we’re in full agreement. Cheers

  7. IF says:

    I definitely agree about the two very different types of reporting/commentary. Vaughn is definitely just playing around. What is most telling and most disappointing for me as a taxpayer and a former supporter of the CBC is that they are completely absent from your comparison and completely missing in inaction on the issues that matter to British Columbians. The corporate media is actually doing more to safeguard our democracy than our publicly funded media service. If all $110m in CBC cuts is applied to BC, we won’t be any less represented than we are now.

  8. RossK says:


    Point very, very well taken, but….

    The post toward which Mr. Reid pointed over at my place was just the first in a series of purposeful pairwise comparisons of the Lotuslandian punditry.

    The CBC, particularly CBC British Columbia’s reporters, will soon appear.


  9. John's Aghast says:

    Again, perhaps off topic, but does ANYBODY think that Christy has the intelligence to mismanage this sinking ship as well as she does. (Now that is destined for Davey Jones locker perhaps no-one else is prepared to take credit either.)

    But, be assured there is/was a guiding ‘light’ that was pirating this ship through our resources. Whether or not it has finished plundering is yet to be determined.

    Christy said “We are a coalition of people who don’t always agree on everything, but we all agree on one thing, and that’s that we can’t afford the NDP in British Columbia.”

    Well, its been proven that we sure as hell can’t afford her! What’s left – Conservatives?

  10. John's Aghast says:

    And while I’m on a rant, might I draw your attention to Norm Farrell’s “Things that make you go “Hmmmm'”. (Sorry I don’t know how to do that ‘clicky thing’ that spirits you over to his site.)
    After reading of the disparate salaries ‘down there’, might we not be smart just to subcontract our whole governance over to the State of Washington? Maybe then we’d have some funds left over for Education, Health, Hydro & Hidden PPP fees.

  11. Maharg says:

    Ian, your assessment of Vaughn Palmer is absolutely on target.

    In acknowledgement of John Aghast’s comment about BC Rail, I suggest not only was the railway given away but we are continuing to pay for it with the tax concessions that CN is enjoying.

  12. RS says:

    Spot on Ian Reid!

  13. Steve says:

    Really, Palmer has always written in this way and I think it is us and not him who have changed. I think it is that there are less editorial writers who we reference and now he is one of the few in mass media and we hold him more to account. I have always felt that he has had a right turn and “I am al’right Jack” so I can write about these things without much passion or conviction as I have both feet in the establishment and business of editorials and permission from the establishment to say things, as long as I do not say too much. He cites Bruce Hutchison as his mentor but he falls short as he is too careful and too invested in pleasing his masters.

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