To Gord MacDonald, presenter and host on CKNW

Dear Mr. MacDonald,

As a member of the news team for CKNW, I'd like to thank you for all the work you and your colleagues do to keep British Columbians informed about what is going on here. You are, overall, a rich source of information, and in general you discharge your responsibility to do so admirably, as your team's steady stream of awards appropriately confirms.

In regard to the one year anniversary of the sinking of the Queen of the North, there was one aspect of your coverage in the open line session that disturbed me, and if you were to give second thought to the things you were saying, perhaps they would give you pause as well. Before saying more, let me state that I share your frustration, that of all other BCers, even more those of the families of Mr. Foisy and his companion, and of the community of Hartley Bay who face an environmental disaster in the making with the 240,000 L of various oils still at the bottom near Gil Island, at the utter lack of candor on the part of the standing watch at the time of the sinking. It seems unthinkable that with two lives lost and a large cache of underwater diesel the consciences of these folks would not drive them to saying clearly and distinctly what was going on. But that is the state they are in, and if they persist in that state, ultimately they will be reprimanded by their employer and who knows but that they will face charges of negligence causing bodily harm or death eventually.

My concern is the zeal with which you were enjoining the Fourth Officer and the Quartermaster to abandon their rights to due process, implying even a moral obligation to doing so. I would remind you that if you yourself were accused, truly or falsely, of acts that could conceivably result in your imprisonment or significant loss of opportunity to earn income in your trade, that right to due process might be your only safeguard against unjust application of any penalty, or in the case guilt of a lesser offence, of an excessive penalty. These rights to due process are one of the most precious benefits we receive as citizens and we should not encourage others to abandon them, nor make them seem ridiculous or unduly cumbersome. I know individuals who have lived in regimes where these benefits are not bestowed on citizens -- some as citizens who have escaped, some as expatriates who saw co-workers harassed and were themselves expelled unjustly.

Your station's status as the primary source of local news in Vancouver give you a special responsibility, not just to hold the feet of the powerful to the fire when wrong-doing has been done (as seems clearly to be the case in this instance at some level or other), but also to honour and safeguard, in every possible way, these freedoms which keep us from living at the mercy of authorities who are free to assume that we are guilty at their whim and are already under serious threat in the low-level insanity North America has bought into in the aftermath of 9-11 as well as in the face of regular perceived breaches of justice that trouble the public when otherwise guilty persons get let off on technicalities. Those technicalities could very well defend one of us, you or me, from false accusation on some other occasion and we would do well to remember that when we -- and especially you, in this position where thousands of people listen to you and take what you say very seriously in forming their own opinions -- are tempted to deride these protections when they seem to obstruct us from finding out "what really happened" in some contentious situation.

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