Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Paul Martin, the Liberal Party and the Legislature Raids
Paul Martin, our former Prime Minister, is fading away just like other prominent, upwardly mobile politicians have faded ... a deputy premier of B.C., a B.C. Attorney General, a B.C. Minister of Finance, a B.C. Minister of Transportation ... all of whom were ambitious politicians ... all of them dropping out of government suddenly ... then fading away.
Two of their ministerial aides dropped out, too, but that's easily explained. Their aides were arrested. They stand accused of criminal offences which appear to have arisen out of their day jobs in the B.C. Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transportation. They face charges of accepting a bribe, influence peddling, breach of trust, 2 counts of fraud and, for a while, drug trafficking and money laundering.
So presumably, it was after hours, after their day jobs, that Basi & Virk worked hard on behalf of Paul Martin. Extraordinarily hard. Why? Because they had dreams of joining Paul Martin in the Prime Minister's office.
But we already had Jean Chretien, a competent and popular P.M. Not to worry, eh? Step One was to oust the sitting Prime Minister.
The Basi Boys crow-barred elected Chretien cabinet ministers out of ridings and replaced them with Martin cabinet ministers. All but one B.C. riding was Martinized by expanding Federal Liberal memberships, using a system of block voting, from 4,000 Liberal Party members to 37,000 members in less than a year.
"it is hard not to conclude that the Federal Liberal Party is involved ... the Martin Campaign owes the people ... an explanation," said Greg Wilson, former Liberal Party Executive. "Literally ... 30,000 to 40,000 memberships @ $10 apiece have been sold in the last two years" -- a $300,000 to $400,000. cash boost -- "and we don't know where the cash came from." [Global TV News 31 Dec 03].
It's amazing, the things that happened "in the past 2 years," since the BC Liberals gave British Columbia a change of government. The 2-person Opposition raised questions in the Legislature, but were easily shouted down by the 77 Liberal members of government.
Federally, the Opposition MPs in the House of Commons rose to demand that Paul Martin "assure Canadians his leadership campaign wasn't financed partly by drug money" while another Opposition member called for "heads to roll in the Liberal Party's West Coast organization." [Pot plot found in ex-aides' home. Basi top organizer for Liberals in B.C. 11 Jan. 2004, Montreal Gazette] But "it's entirely a provincial matter," shrugged Paul Martin, and left the nation to fret.
Back in B.C., longstanding Liberal supporters quietly hoped that the publicity brought about by the police raid, would force the party executive to reconsider their strategies. They told Jody Paterson [Times Colonist 9 Jan. 04] of a cadre of cosseted young Liberals, more or less under the guidance of Mark Marissen (husband of the B.C. deputy premier, Christy Clark) and Dave Basi, who toiled on Paul Martin's behalf in B.C. for almost a decade. Paterson said this: "...Let's put aside for a moment the rather striking fact that everyone whose homes and offices were searched 9 days ago are so connected to the federal and provincial Liberal parties that they're on a first-name basis with both the prime minister and B.C.'s premier ... " adding the Liberal party will not emerge unscathed.
Colby Cosh was more blunt: "Long before the police raids, senior B.C. Liberals had gone public with concerns about the party's gradual transformation into an ethnic racket ..." [The National Post March 2, 05]
There were several uncommon warnings: RCMP Sgt. John Ward explained the Ledge. raids the following day, saying that " ... in general, the spread of organized crime just in the past two years [i.e., since 2001] has been like a cancer on the social and economic wellbeing of all British Columbians. Today the value of the illegal marijuana trade alone is estimated to be worth in excess of $6 Billion [annually]. We are seeing major increases in organized crime related murders, beatings, extortion, money laundering, and other activity which touches many innocent lives."
"The rot is deep and ugly ..." wrote Robyn Mathews in the Columbia Journal.
Rich Coleman, B.C. Solicitor General, told the Vancouver Board of Trade that weapons being used by insurgents in Afghanistan were smuggled through Canadian ports and financed by the B.C. drug trade. [Petti Fong, Van. Sun., 31 Jan. 2004]
Then after the first month or so, the media went virtually silent. This silence was the starkest warning of all. It also explains why this Blogspot, as well as "House of Infamy" got their start.
For 29 months, the original Search Warrants remained partially closed, and neither Basi nor Virk came to trial. In a vigilant media, wouldn't this arouse fears, distrust? Month after month, it was as if the Legislature Raid had never happened. Saddam Hussein, arrested on 13 Dec. 2003, has come to trial months ago. But not Basi or Virk.
Vaughn Palmer, a year after the raid, called it "a case that raises all sorts of questions in the political realm without much hope that they would be answered any time soon." Without much hope? In a free and democratic society, that's a very strange comment from a respected journalist.
"The case is massive," says Michael Smyth (The Province, 2 Mar '04), "Lawyers with clients named in the warrants have been given between 200 and 300 pages of search-warrant material on a strict non-disclosure basis ... less than 20% of all the warrant material, so ... more than 1,000 pages of evidence that's being kept from the public. It's 1,000 pages that has both the federal and provincial Liberal parties shaking in their tasseled loafers ..."
Lawyers may be happy, but the public is left to fear the worst, wondering if an organized crime syndicate has taken over British Columbia. Perhaps even the judiciary? Do these dark forces explain how precious public assets were sold off? Is this why B.C. legislation is being passed, which would keep essential information secret? With $6 billion a year in marijuana sales alone, in B.C., isn't it fair to ask if this explains the money allegedly spent on electoral maneuvers which carried Paul Martin into the Prime Minister's Office?
There are people who could tell some parts of the truth of it: Sheila Copps, Herb Dhaliwal, former Liberal MLA Allan Warnke, and a number of past Liberal executive members who were forced out of various B.C. riding associations. Basi and Virk could explain. [In the same way that a former Attorney General, Alex McDonald, told the truth about Dave Stupich who, said Alex, was unfairly prosecuted; Alex was never sued by the dark forces he named.] Keith Martin and David Anderson should have consented to an in-depth media interview but apparently they decided to keep their heads down.
But we dare not let the press remain quiet. Or as manipulative as they were in the sundeck case.
If we do tolerate that, there goes honour. There goes public policy. There, warns the U.N., goes sovereignty if organized crime isn't checked hard, and checked early.
I'd like to end Part I of this commentary by reminding readers of this puzzling event, asking as they read this: why didn't the police stand back, put the ship under round-the-clock surveillance, then arrest the gangsters who showed up to take delivery of the drugs? Just asking. Just something else to wonder about.
MARTIN'S FAMILY VESSEL RAIDED FOR DRUGS
Halifax Daily News, July 1, 2004
83 kilograms of cocaine were found during a random search of the vessel
HALIFAX -- An underwater camera is credited with what's described as the fluke discovery of an attempt to smuggle millions of dollars in cocaine on a cargo ship named after the prime minister's wife and operated by the company he once controlled. Authorities suggest organized crime is behind an attempt to transport cocaine using the Sheila Ann, a ship operated by Canada Steamship Lines , the company Prime Minister Paul Martin transferred control of to his three sons last year.
Two duffel bags stuffed with 83 kilograms of cocaine were found early Wednesday during a random search of the vessel , which was carrying coal from Venezuela to Sydney for Nova Scotia Power. The camera discovered the drugs in a grate attached to the bottom of the ship , resulting in what customs agents call a "cold hit'' _ a seizure that is essentially a fluke, neither the result of criminal intelligence nor informants. "The security is not good ... there are not enough officers in Sydney to search a vessel,'' said Susan Horne, president of the Customs Excise Union in Nova Scotia, which represents customs officers. Members from the Halifax customs office were called in to assist in the search, but since Canada Customs does not have its own divers, Horne said private scuba divers were contracted to remove the bags. Once it was determined the bags contained cocaine, the unarmed customs officers at Port of Sydney called in police . "It's for their own security,'' said Horne. ``We don't know who put those drugs on. . . . Would someone be coming to the vessel that might be trying to retrieve those drugs? ''
A thorough search of the vessel followed, producing no other contraband and the Sheila Ann was allowed to leave port Wednesday evening.The RCMP reportedly estimated the street value of the cocaine at between $12 million and $14 million . Martine Malka, a spokeswoman for Canada Steamship Lines, said the packages must have been smuggled in from Maracaibo, Venezuela, the vessel's last stop before Sydney. She said four bolts holding the underwater grate to the bottom of the ship were removed sometime before the vessel docked, then replaced after the packages were hidden inside. "This cannot be done through the ship,'' Malka said. ``The only way this could have been done is by divers underwater.'' Horne agreed and said the drugs were almost certainly destined for Canada , as they would have interfered with the crew unloading coal in Sydney and would surely have been noticed. They were stuffed inside the grate where water is taken in to fill the ship's ballast for stabilization during the on- and offloading of cargo.
How the drugs made it onto the ship undetected is unclear , said Horne. "The ship's owner has committed to work to improve security for the vessel,'' she said. Michel Proulx, spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency, said it's not unusual for legitimate companies to be exploited by organized crime for the movement of contraband. Proulx said no charges were laid against the vessel or its crew. After handing over control of the company, Martin made it known he would not be involved in any dealings with it and would not be commenting on its affairs .
The Customs Excise Union says the random discovery points to a lack of marine security along Canada's coast.
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Part II, coming soon ...
This is partly to test your comment settings Mary. You've been busy posting (and changing the name), I feel like a laggard slacker.