|BC Mary - 2011|
In fact, she named her blog The Legislature Raids.
And now my friend is gone.
Sadly BC Mary - Mary Mackie to those that knew her more - passed away unexpectedly but peacefully on Saturday March 3 in Toronto General Hospital.
Mary's daughter Nadina Mackie Jackson let me know on the weekend and several others - Laila Yuile and Robin Mathews in particular - have paid tribute to Mary's fighting spirit and citizen journalism.
Nadina wrote this to me Sunday about her mother, which I'm sure she would allow me to share: "She was a wonderful person, vivid and passionate, yet also surprisingly shy and retiring."
Nadina sent me the photo on the left - the first I and likely most BC Legislature Raids readers have ever seen. I thank her for sharing it.
Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog rose in the BC Legislature - how totally appropriate - to mark Mary's passing on Monday March 5:
L. Krog: "I rise today to ask the House to pay its respects to the passing of one of British Columbia's most courageous citizen journalists, a woman who was a harsh critic of the B.C. government, particularly around the sale of B.C. Rail, and also critical of yours truly, in the role that I played in criticizing the government. She was a well-known blogger. A defender of democracy, she feared no power. I'd ask the House to pay its respect to the passing of B.C. Mary — Mary Mackie."
I too want to pay tribute to BC Mary - with some of her own words to me over the roughly seven years we corresponded about the Raid, the arrest, pre-trial and surprise guilty pleas of ex-BC Liberal ministerial aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk and many other issues as well.
But - and Mary might have scolded me for this - I want to share a bit more of the personal side - because Mary certainly spoke for herself and her political views on her own blog.
BC Mary was one of my strongest, fiercest and most committed supporters - and almost every column, article or post I published was reference and linked in her blog.
The BC Legislature Raids was the one website that referred more readers to my blog than any other - quite an accomplishment. I suspect many had no idea the enormous readership it had.
I never met Mary in person, nor did I ever - surprisingly - speak to her by phone. It was a true Internet friendship in every way. [It actually reminds me of the wonderful relationship by mail in the book 84 Charing Cross Road - unfortunately, as in that true story - the two correspondents never meet in person.]
But despite never meeting, Mary did early on trust me with some of her secrets. She did not want it known that she actually lived in Ontario - felt some might try to undercut her deep passion for British Columbia, where she had spent a large part of her life, and attempt to discredit her blog.
Actually, that simply wasn't possible - Mary was truly BC Mary.
Mary also contacted me privately in May 2010 when I disclosed in my column and blog that my mom Pat had been diagnosed with lung cancer to offer her support and sympathy.
I share that very personal message publicly today - to show the measure of Mary:
Mary's cancer diagnosis
It was a heartfelt message because in March 2010, Mary had been told she had developed breast cancer and the prognosis was not good.
Again, I share this private message she sent me now, to show Mary's courage in the worst kind of circumstances any of us can face:
"Bill: There's no easy way to say this. There's cancer in the left breast, and under the arm, with two suspect lumps on shoulder and neck. These will be subject to new biopsies for analysis. There's some abnormality in the right breast but no cancer there, chino.
Fortunately for all of us, Mary's health held until this past weekend - and she continued to post blog items until her final entry on February 23, 2012.
"It's difficult to stop writing about Allan, once started. He is, without a doubt, one of the smartest, strongest, most level-headed, most amusing, and consistently annoying persons I've ever met (no mercy for those who 'produce nothing')."
That was Mary's personal struggle.
Her public struggle was with the BC Legislature Raids and she doggedly followed it to her final days.
BC Mary's blog essential
Mary's blog became THE clearing house for all information on the Basi-Virk case - my writing, that of Robin Mathews of Vive le Canada, Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail, Neal Hall of the Vancouver Sun, Keith Fraser of the Province - the BC Supreme Court regulars - and anyone else who came to Courtroom 54 and wrote about it or who covered the story. You can still find links to almost everything written on this case at Mary's blog - long may it remain online.
Mary was also always extremely respectful of my work and the right of 24 hours newspaper and The Tyee online to publish it first and in full, as well as my blog.
So Mary would always on her blog post excerpts and encourage readers to go to the whole version at one of those sources.
In an age when there is some shameless theft of online material without compensation or even credit or acknowledgement of the author's work, Mary was exemplary in her approach.
Here's just one example:
If only everyone in our online world were so considerate and thoughtful about others' work!
Tenacious to the end
Lastly, Mary was tenacious about getting to the bottom of the Basi-Virk case.
And we didn't always get along - Mary had her own views about how to cover the BC Legislature Raid - and sometimes I was on the wrong end of some stern advice!
But we never let those differences affect our ongoing friendship and mutual interest in getting to the truth.
I do not know if there is an afterlife, a heaven for those who have passed on.
But I truly hope that Mary Mackie now knows the full, unadulterated, unspun, gospel truth about what happened with the BC Legislature Raids.
That would only be fair for someone who dedicated so much of their life to finding out.
For those of us still here - we need to push for a full public inquiry - the truth will out.
I know Mary would urge me to ask you to join my Facebook group Basi-Virk Public Inquiry - to add to pressure for such an investigation. Please do so if you haven't already - because we need to know what happened.
BC Mary - it was not just a pleasure to know you - it was truly an honour.
You were one of a kind - rest in peace, for a job well done.