Monday, May 08, 2006
Why the trial of Dave Basi and Bob Virk is important to us
When police entered the B.C. Legislature with Search Warrants on a quiet Sunday morning, 28 December 2003, they made history. Never before in Canada had police breached the sanctity of the people's parliament.
Public shock deepened over 6 days. TV News cameras had shown the 20 uniformed sergeants carrying 32 boxes of confidential cabinet documents away from the B.C. Ministries of Finance and Transportation. But no premier, no prime minister stepped forward to explain the meaning of this shocking event. Both Premier Gordon Campbell and Prime Minister Paul Martin simply said, "I know nothing."
Had it not been for RCMP Sergeant John Ward, the public would have been adrift. But Ward spoke directly to the people of British Columbia, recognizing the public's need to know. As if he knew nobody else would tell us much.
He said a drug probe had triggered the raid on the legislature. He said that the suspects are alleged to have been involved in an organized crime network exchanging BC marijuana for U.S. cocaine which was then sold throughout Canada. The public later learned that cocaine profits buy guns - guns for the international arms trade selling into Afghanistan for example.
Sgt Ward estimates $6 billion a year is sucked out of British Columbia in marijuana traffic alone. Organized crime has so much cash, it's weighed, not counted; money-laundering is a major concern for the criminals.
Sgt. Ward added "... the spread of organized crime in the past 2 years has been like a cancer on the social and economic wellbeing of all British Columbians ... it has reached critical mass." There's so much more to this story.
" ... the rot is deep and ugly," wrote Robin Mathews in The Columbia Journal. "It suggests devious tampering with the very fundamentals of B.C. and Canadian democratic society."
Since the raid, almost two dozen criminal charges have been laid. Dave Basi and Bob Virk face 12 indictments, 9 of them linked to the bidding process for BC Rail operating rights. New charges have been added against Basi concerning Sooke property removed from the ALR for development. There are 10 drug-related charges against eight individuals.
David Basi, was a senior government aide to Gary Collins, Minister of Finance. Basi and his brother-in-law, Bob Virk, are charged with influence peddling, accepting a bribe, breach of trust, and 2 counts of fraud over $5,000. Basi was hoping for a Chief of Staff appointment with the new Paul Martin administration.
Aneal Basi, Dave's cousin, also faces a charge of money-laundering. It is not clear yet, if the sale of B.C. Rail was influenced or who offered money to influence the sale.
Constable Ravinder Singh Dosanjh now suspended from the Victoria police force, is charged with obstruction of justice in connection with this investigation. [Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun.]
Three B.C. Cabinet Ministers have resigned (Christy Clark, deputy Premier; Judith Reid, Minister of Transportation, and Gary Collins, Minister of Finance at the time of the police raid; Clark & Collins have left politics completely, they say.)
David Basi had a top-level insider's knowledge of every decision made in the B.C. Legislature. He had influence over both the provincial and federal wings of the Liberal party in B.C. A passionate supporter of Paul Martin, he'd been deeply involved in ensuring that several B.C. ridings returned Martin delegates. Liberal membership jumped from 4,000 to 37,000., a $330,000 annual boost in revenue.
Norman Spector and Gordon Gibson both made the connection that the kind of organization employed by the Martin forces “requires minions and millions. Even if rumours of drug money prove false,” TV commentator Spector said in January 30, 2004 Sun, “$12 million is an awful lot to raise for a leadership campaign.” Spector refers to “membership lists that include dead dogs - and people who can’t speak English, haven’t paid for their membership, and don’t know they’re members of the party.”
All B.C. ridings except one were "Martinized." A former Liberal executive officer added, in the December 29 Sun, that “They wouldn’t have had Herb Dhaliwal taken out without the Basi Boys.”
Elections Canada has warned that those who engage in “bulk purchase of party memberships could face fines and jail terms of up to five years.” If that places David Basi in peril, it also places Paul Martin, Gordon Campbell, and their Liberal campaigners in peril. The electoral process itself is in peril. This is why David Basi is so important to every British Columbian. And to every Canadian.
The Liberals "admit privately, the B.C. business is a time bomb for Prime Minister Martin. Up to now, the raids have been virtually ignored by media east of the Rockies ..." [Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, 24 Feb. 04]
Properly understood, the threat is to the nation's ability to govern itself. British Columbians need to know whether Organized Crime is at work within their government.
"The topic is too radio-active to touch," one Sun reporter told me.
In his book about organized crime operating out of Vancouver, Terry Gould says " ... Interpol was now issuing warnings to the press and national law enforcement agencies that the criminal underworld seemed to be entering a new phase, one that darkly mirrored the transnational corporations leading the way in the trend towards "globalization." [Paper Fan, p.244]
Another book, The Road to Hell by Julian Sher and William Marsden, describes biker crime in Canada. To understand what organized crime means to the ordinary citizen even in Canada, these are basic reading.
The United Nations has warned the world that organized crime -- once it gains a foothold in any country -- is capable of destroying a nation's sovereignty. When that happens, the UN says there's no going back.
Citizens know there's something wrong. The public is not stupid, not apathetic. But they're frustrated when they want to find out what's really happening, and how to respond intelligently.
Saddam Hussein was arrested a week before the RCMP raided the B.C. Legislature. Was his case simpler than Dave Basi's? No. But Saddam came to trial weeks ago ... while British Columbia is still waiting to hear Basi & Virk's side of this story. It's been 2 years and 3 months.
What were the police looking for when they raided the B.C. Legislature? Was the sale of BC Rail legitimate? When other public assets were sold, were those deals tainted? Can the democratic process function if the public is kept in the dark?
It looks as if the next chapter of the RCMP's historic raid will begin with the trial of Dave Basi, Bob Virk, and Aneal Basi in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on 5 June 2006.
If you can't be there, be here. Watch for further reports.