Tuesday, March 06, 2012

BC Mary - a tireless blogger on the Legislature Raids - has passed away from cancer. May she rest in peace.

BC Mary - 2011
BC Mary was one of Canada's most tireless, prolific, dedicated and dogged bloggers - with an absolute commitment to finding out the truth about the BC Legislature Raids - the Basi-Virk case - the BC Railgate story.
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:

"Dear Bill, 

My heart is with you -- and your beloved Mom -- as I write. She is indeed blessed, to have you as her son. 

These will be precious hours for you, her, and your family members. 

It is incredibly ironic that you, of all people, won't be in the courtroom for the trial. But you're so right, in saying that

"our most important role in this case is likely behind us"  ... no, wait a minute ... 

Bill, "they" will still be trying to prevent the news when they ought to be reporting ... and for evidence of that, have a look at my blog postings for recent days. 

NOT that I'd try to draw you away from family matters ... I'm just saying: there will be times when only your voice may be heard clearly. If I can facilitate that, I'd be honoured to do so ... anything from a signed statement to an anonymous comment or even a private comment. Let me do that, if I can. 

Thank you for letting me know the momentous journey you and your Mom are embarking on. It's a beautiful thing you are doing. Peace be in your hearts. 

Much love, 


I truly, deeply appreciated her message at a difficult time.  My mom passed away 12 days later.  

And despite her diagnosis in April, my mom insisted that I be at the opening day of the Basi-Virk trial - like Mary, she totally understood the importance of this trial. And like Mary, she would have been appalled at its sudden ending in October 2010.

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. 

They will also do further tests (CT Scan, Bone Scan) to see if there's further involvement. 

Preferred treatment (by them) is Estrogen Treatment. 

First, the new tests. Then the correct pill prescription. Then wait 2 or 3 months to see if the pills are effective. 

They feel that surgery even as things appear right now, would be too invasive for me to withstand; I agree. 

As it appears to be an aggressive form of cancer, this will be a critical 2 or 3 month period. 

Allan manfully stood by me right through the whole procedure. He saw it all, heard it all. 

Only once did I feel like crying, when I thanked him for being there and I heard myself say: "I wouldn't want to have faced this alone."   

I want to say "Don't worry!" and that sort of stuff but it tends to ring hollow just now.  Of course you will worry.  

But one thing I would like you to know is that I feel at peace, knowing that my time has come. In the great span of human history, very few humans have had lives as good for as long as the one I've enjoyed.  It is enough.

Also: I believe in Canada's Health Care System. If our system hadn't been there to correct various health issues over the years, I wouldn't have had this full, happy life. 

I'm grateful for that ... but if I try to use medical intervention right now on the 3 major problems which have befallen me, I'm sure it would cost the system puh-lenty. And for what?  It has already given me more than enough.  

So my time has come and I hope to sail away into the sunset perhaps to find out just exactly what it is that we do with drunken sailors ... er-li in the mornin' ... 

And yes, I really am OK with this news. There's an old saying, about "to everything there's a season" or some such thing. Well, mine is about completed and that's the way it should be.  


I can only hope that should I unfortunately face such terrible news I will also write my friends about it with the same grace, strength and understanding.

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. 

Mary was also fiercely proud and protective of her beloved ex-husband Allan.  When one of my blog posters took an unfair cheap shot at Allan and Mary - which I didn't understand when I published it - Mary sent me what I could only call a love letter about Allan and how wonderful a man he was.  

She concluded this way:

"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')."

I quickly rectified the slight.

I am sure Allan knows how much Mary loved him, as do her daughter and son.

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:


I write to apologize for knowingly copying too much of your Tyee  
column today ... and to ask your permission for that.

It's one of your absolute best columns ... and I just hated to lop  
anything off ... much less to interrupt the delicious flow of  
inevitability that comes with a well-reasoned diatribe.

I must admit that it gave me some fresh courage. It's been a grind,  
since that damn trial (awful as it was) was dumped. Having some of the  
participants answer some of the hard "premier" questions will be doing  
a great service to the public.

Let me know if you'd rather I trimmed my posting today and I'll remove  
some more of it.


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.



laila said...

oh my, fresh tears. A beautiful and fitting tribute Bill.

Ron S. said...

All you and espicially Mary deserve credit for bringing the rape of BC to the forefront and keeping it there.

Paul R. Nettleton said...

Mary,you fought tirelessly and fearlessly in the Public Interest. I am deeply saddened at our loss.

Paul R. Nettleton

Skookum1 said...

As per my FB comments, thanks for this wonderful tribute to Mary and a recounting of her cause and her personal struggles.

I'm hoping that the phrase "they don't make 'em like that anymore" doesnt apply - because we need more people like Mary, don't we?

RIP BC Mary, we know you're among your fellow angels and can see the light of the truth you fought for so ardently in your time on this sin-filled earth....

If it weren't tainted by Campbell, Dobell etc having one, I'd say we all team up to nominate her for the Order of BC next time around....or maybe there's something more fitting?

concerned citizen said...

So sad to lose a heroine. What will we do without her?

Nadiva said...

Thank you, Bill! I have forwarded this to my Dad and to my brother in Australia, telling them that this will bring them a lot of comfort. It is so wonderful for me to see my determined small Mom through the eyes of her political peers. I cannot thank you enough for this.

Norm Farrell said...

Thanks Bill for adding to the knowledge of the person behind the BC Mary persona.

I could echo your comments about her respectful generosity. She really was driven by her love of the province and the principles she held dearly.

While I didn't meet her personally, I think we shared thoughts by email as respectful friends would do.

I also applaud Leonard Krog for paying tribute to Mary in the Legislature. He understood her passion and says her idealism is inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Our wonderful BC Mary, will be sadly missed.

I loved the Royal Hudson. I read every one of Mary's posts. I had no idea Mary was so terribly ill. It was a shock for me.

Thank you Bill, for sharing a little bit of Mary's life with us. She is all the more precious.

North Van's Grumps said...

Well I never met BC Mary, but we sure did exchange a lot of comments on her blog and then emails. It was BC Mary that "sent" me off to the tail end of the BC Rail Disclosures down at the Robson Court House, and it was BC Mary who asked how it was going and I told her, in my own words.

It was BC Mary who "arranged" for me to meet up with Robin Mathews, and on that same first day it was BC Mary who "arranged" for me to meet E.M.

Turned out there were more bloggers in that Court Room than the MSM.

It was BC Mary that urged me to write more and keep up the good work.....

Bless you Mary, what you have done is merged many into a force to be reckoned with.

David Berner said...


Both you and I have been flattered over the years to have various readers call us "fearless." But we both know that compared to Mary, we have both bedn timid slackers lobbing soft balls from the weeds.

Our blinkered culture needs so many more Marys.

We are all a little less sure in the world without her persistence and holding of the line.

David Berner

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of yours, Bill. This is my first comment on your site....I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts on BC Mary. I always appreciated her dedication.

You've carved out quite a following in the cyber universe BC Mary.

Rest peacefully...


Dave McPherson said...

So sad Mary to see you go. A true friend and inspirational figure. We all learned from you and we take your lessons with us. Your drive for finding the truth will simply and carefully go on forever.

John Preissl said...

Thank you Bill,

Your tribute to Mary is beautiful. Mary was truly one of a kind. Her blog helped me connect with many concerned British Columbians over a difficult time.

I loved how she kicked ass. A ton of very important information came out on her blog. She will be missed and she made a huge impact on many of us.

When I think of the saying "One person can make a difference" I always think of Mary.

Take care. John Preissl

Harv Oberfeld said...

BC Mary was a frequent contributor to Comments on my blog ... and the best compliment I, as a retired long-time reporter, can give her is that she added a lot of terrific information and, when she disagreed with something I wrote, she REALLY kept me on my toes!
Harv Oberfeld

Anonymous said...

A wonderful tribute Bill. Few people in this world 'speak truth to power' but BC Mary surely did.

What really sticks with me about what you have written is this:

"But I truly hope that Mary Mackie now knows the full, unadulterated, unspun, gospel truth about what happened with the BC Legislature Raids."

Now that would be a heaven I'd want to end up in too.

Anonymous said...

I met her and her ex- in the seventies when they marketed books on log cabin construction. These were sold all over the world, and influenced a revival of that trade. Some called her "Ida."

Anonymous said...

Scroll down to the last page here and you will see a pic of Mary from the late sixties. She is to the right. Nadina to the left.



kootcoot said...

Awesome tribute Bill. Maybe if I had gone to your place first I coulda saved an e-mail or two. I guess like me you feel challenged and invigorated to carry on her wonderful legacy. She certainly was a special person and would deserve the Order of BC, if it hadn't been so debased by current recipients!

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Guess maybe I should have been more watchful of things after the the cops took action on the crooked as a horse's hind leg BC Rail sale. All it was for me was more confirmation of what I have known for what seems like forever: governments can out-criminal any other organizition yet invented when they set their mind to it.

Good thing Mary was a little less cynical than I. Near her end, she asked that I include her blog on my distastefully titled list of sidebar links. I did so, of course.

Not sure if Mary or anyone else came to the same conclusion I came to many decades ago: Michael Bolton is one damn fine lawyer.

Mary was proof, if you like it, that it is citizens paying attention that are the shining diamonds of any society, be it democratic or otherwise.

Good work Bill.