In the first year and a half after the BC Liberal government began musing about selling off BC Rail, the going was easy. Easy, like water falling over Niagara. Easy, like that Kanye West song.
The Campbell government would pitch numbers. The numbers would be read as truth next day in the news.
In a note from Yvette Wells to the project’s publicist Randy Wood at National Public Affairs she thanked him for a story fed to Prince George Citizen reporter Gordon Hoeskstra – now at the Vancouver Sun. “Nothing like a few good leaks to make a story” she gushed.
Wood’s reply? “Or a steady stream.”
After the raid, the going got a lot tougher for the government. Not as tough as you’d expect, mind you. “Do you think this will have legs?” Keith Baldrey asked Norm Ruff in one early 2004 interview, transcript duly distributed.
Even after charges were laid major media stars were writing how narrow the impact was and how well the government had escaped damage. A column by Vaughn Palmer from late 2004 was circulated with the notation “good summation.” It described how the focus of the investigation was narrowing with the government getting off, by and large unscathed.
But still it got tougher. And so the spin machine grew. Every scrum was taped. Every story collected and notated.
So the government identified scores of safe pitchers for their go to catchers.
A list of ”Validators” were identified by sector, location and title; each with ready-made go-to quotes; all of whom could be counted on to deliver what was needed.
I received a copy of the validators list in the latest government response to my FOI for all the records received by the defense team in the BC Rail trial.
The list was topped by then Prince George Mayor Kinsey and included a group of other BC Liberal friendly local electos – some of whom turned up as candidates in subsequent elections.
Many of the names have gone quiet in the years since the charges and trial. But several of these friendlies remain friendly. One in particular jumped off the page.
Jim Shephard, was on the list as a prominent forest industry expert.
Now, of course he’s the new head of of “Concerned Citizens for BC ” dedicated to saving the scandal ridden BC Liberal government.
From BC Rail shill to straight out BC Liberal shill. Maybe his group should be called “Concerned Liberals for Saving Our Scandal Ridden Ass.”