Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Due diligence 101 ... continued

"What is your interest ... are you a victim in this case?"

"No," I said, "I'm just an interested observer." Then he gave me the time and place of Dave Basi's next court date, and told me they don't normally provide this information by telephone.

For some reason, his question keeps coming back to me. "Are you a victim ...?" and "No, I'm just ... "

Much as I hate the thought of being a victim, I'm thinking: "Every British Columbian is a victim in this case." And what the heck did I mean by "just an interested observer"? What's so insignificant about that? Well, there's an implied intimidation within the judicial system. I seemed to think that if I didn't shape up, he wouldn't provide the service which every citizen has a right to ask for.

I keep thinking that surely to god, there's a simpler way for even the dumbest citizen to find out about ... well, in this case, the date and (please) the hour when a certain issue of public interest erupts into a court room. Not having everybody show up at 9:30 AM and waiting all day.

So, it just isn't simple. But perhaps if more citizens used these services more often, the channels would evolve more openly. Perhaps "they" think nobody cares because nobody is asking.

For example: try phoning the Attorney-General's office. Someone tipped me off that this is where you can get answers. Looking it up in the blue pages gets us nowhere. No phone number is given. Many sub-headings with phone numbers are shown, but for the A-G office itself, no telephone number.

But there is a way, of course. To obtain the A-G's office phone no., I'm told that what you have to do is go back to "Enquiry BC" and they provide it ... Strangely, this no longer seems nuts.

So back you go and call 1-800-663-7867 (Enquiry BC) and although he's pleasantly surprised that you want the Attorney General's office and not any of the centres of the unhappily jailed or bedeviled people, he gives you the correct number for the A-G's office: (250) 387-1866 and then explains that if you are out of town, you can simply call Enquiry BC and they'll transfer the call for you, toll-free. Who would ever guess??

My sleuth also tells me that the person to talk to in the A-G's office is Stan Low. This is how she got the 3 dates for us: for Ravinder Dosanjh; for Basi, Duncan, Young; and for Basi, Virk, Basi.

I still say it shouldn't be this awkward. After all, we're only trying to do our own due diligence as concerned citizens, right?

Also, people have been telling me that arrest doesn't necessarily put the arrested person in jail right away -- not unless they're a threat to the public. This ain't so simple either. I have the Victoria Daily Court List for July 20, 2006 and I think there may be clues under one of the headings: "Bail Proc" but again, who knows what Bail Proc is?

Listed underneath Bail Proc, the entries are given in code, such as: DO, PTU, PTA, AN, AWW, SUM, PPA, RWD, UTA, RWS, CR, OR, RIC. Or, for Basi, Duncan, and Young, the code is WAR. No idea what this means. Is there a lawyer in the house?

All I'm saying is that citizens trying to follow a serious legal issue -- or any legal issue -- should be encouraged, as part of their duties as citizens. In my opinion, citizens should be able to access the basic information about court dates etc on-line (not having to go to a big city Court House to use their computers), we should be able to find the information easily, and if we're willing to travel to the place where the hearings are being held, the Daily Court List should correlate with reality.

Maybe the general public isn't apathetic at all. Maybe we're just scared off. And I don't like to think of Canadians being scared of their own social set-up.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Now ... a little quiz. When to bail and when to jump ship.

Didn't you always think that when a citizen is arrested and charged with a crime, he/she goes straight to jail to await trial?

So here's the question. Was Dave Basi ever put in jail? Was Bobby Virk? Was Aneal Basi? Even for 5 minutes? I don't think so. Yet, as far as I know, the only legal way for an alleged felon to avoid seeing the inside of a jail is to pay a whack of money commonly known as BAIL.

So the next question is: did Basi, Virk, or Basi pay bail? Did Basi, Duncan, or Young also put up bail in return for their temporary freedom pending their trials? Don't think so. But if they did put up bail, how much was it? Who paid? Were there conditions attached to granting their freedom? And how the heck do citizens find out about these issues of public interest?

Here's what opened my eyes: on 20 July, most of the unhappy people I saw in Court Room 101 were either escorted in by a prison guard; or they were shown on a video link from a correctional centre. It suddenly got me wondering where, exactly, did Dave Basi fit into this picture. Even this ALR charge under File 134750-1-D involved a significant sum -- $50,000 -- as well as the "Breach of trust by a public officer" which is of serious concern to the citizens of Sooke. So where was Basi? On the beach?

Or, stated differently, isn't Dave Basi walking free, going about his life almost as if nothing had happened, as if on vacation? Buried deep in these questions is the larger question: is the public interest being served, or ignored?? What about our need to know and to safeguard our province?

Does the law go limp in some cases, but not in others? Surely not. But what, if anything, is stopping Basi from buying a one-way ticket to a faraway place with an unpronouncable name, to live happily ever after?

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Court Room 101 on 6 Sept '06 at 9:30 AM

File No. 134750-1-D will come up again "for election" on 6 September 2006 at 9:30 AM.

"For election" means that the defendants decide whether to proceed to trial by judge and jury or by judge alone. Then they agree on when and where.

"File No. 134750-1-D" means Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi, James S. Duncan, and Anthony R. Young.

The charges are: against Basi: Breach of trust by a public officer. Against Duncan and Young: person dealing with government offering bribe.

To obtain this information, I spent hours in Victoria Court Room 101 that day without seeing Basi, Duncan, or Young. In the end, I had to rely upon the kindness of others to come up with these results. But I can tell you about the process ...

Temperatures were above 30C in Victoria on July 20, and it took a lot of hoofing around the Court House to ask for information and back onto the street to keep the parking meters fed. Not to mention a certain anxiety that attaches to these places. So after 3 intense hours, when the judge called a recess in Court Room 101, I was in physical distress. Did I mention that I have a problem with cardiac arrythmia? Well, I was shaking and exhausted and a bit scared, when I realized it was time to retreat.

I felt pretty bad, thinking I had failed. All I had come up with was the Daily Court List for Room 101 dated 20 July 2006 on which Basi, Duncan, and Young were listed together as Item #3, #4, #5, of the persons scheduled to appear.

I had arrived at 9:15, found this info on the bulletin board, so hurried downstairs to the farthest end of the corridor to find 101 just in time, a pleasant enough room not too big, not too scary. Figured I was just in time to see Basi walk in.

But no. There were young people on most of the chairs. I took a front seat, nearest the lawyers. A young woman in a black suit entered, pushing a kind of shopping cart loaded with files. She said cheerfully to the lawyer nearest to me, "We're gonna be here until midnight, with all this." So these were the tragic outlines of about 90 issues affecting the lives of the people attending this court.

A large TV monitor brought in the voices and images of many young kids in a Correctional Centre who then heard the time and place of their trials, or the disposition of their future hopes in other ways. I must say that the lawyers, the Crown prosecutor, and the Judge, all seemed to show a fairness and decency throughout, even to asking, "All right, are there any further questions for the court from anyone here?" Not me. What would I say: where is Dave Basi? Didn't seem entirely polite. But one slim young fellow stood up and said, "Last week I was given a $200. fine and I can't pay it." The judge explained how to deal with that, and the lad went away purposefully.

As near as I can make out, it seems that every one of the accused must appear in Court Room 101 at 9:30 AM. How it's decided who goes next, I haven't yet learned. So after an hour, when about 20 cases had been heard, I went out into the corridor, to the first open door I could find {Legal Aid) and asked how I could find out the schedule. The lone occupant of the cubbyhole office seemed alarmed and said I should see the Mumble-Mumble Officer at the front desk. So up I went, and showed the Officer the court list, asking his advice on when Item #3 might come up; I said that I was there to see it as it came before the judge. He shrugged and said, "It could've come up since you left the court room."

"So there's no way of knowing? Item #3 doesn't mean that #3 will be the 3rd one up?"

"No, no. You could be waiting all day for #3 to appear," he said. "Court Room 101 is a Remand court room, you know." No idea what that means.

Much later, it dawned upon me that the Court list had the names in alphabetical order. The numbers are just that, a tally of charges (for July 20,90). There must be a system upon which it's decided who goes next but so far, I don't know what it is.

Back I went to Court Room 101 ... waited and watched some more ... then (defeated by my own infirmities) dragged myself back to my motel vowing to return the next morning. Meantime, I phoned my old friend, who was once my family's lawyer, now retired, and asked him what the process is. He said he couldn't remember. But he also said that these "election" hearings can be done in the Judge's chambers with only the lawyers present. That's all he wanted to say.

Next morning, however, I still felt unwell. So I decided to phone that magic number one more time -- the Victoria Court Registry -- 356-1478 -- and got myself put through to a J.P. who told me that the Basi, Duncan, Young case has been put over "for election" to 6 Sept. 2006.

Wha-a-att?? That's what yesterday's hearing was supposed to do.

Oh yes, said the impatient young man, "These things can go on and on. Now may I suggest that in future, you go to the Court House and use their computers to obtain this information, as we normally don't give this information on the phone."

Me: "But if I'm in Parksville?"

JP: "Then you'd go to the Nanaimo Court House and they'd set you up on their computer."

I certainly saw no "access to computers" sign in Victoria Court House. And we were assured that Nanaimo Court House couldn't tell us a thing because they didn't know.

I came away from this exercise in Citizen Awareness with a new appreciation for the kindness of lawyers and of the judge who were dealing with a staggering load of work. I also had a new appreciation of why there's so little in the corporate media about the Basi, Virk, et al affair. And yet, if the corporate media used its muscle to insist upon answers, perhaps the information lines would be more open.

My best sleuth with the 17 years of Ontario cabinet experience, goes straight to the BC Attorney General's office when she wants information. She talks to Stan Low, and it was he who told her that Basi & Virk go into pre-trial matters in the last 3 weeks in September ... that Basi, Young & Duncan would be in court July 20 (otherwise I wouldn't have known this at all), and that the trial of former Constable Ravinder Dosanjh is set to continue in mid-September (Sept 13/14).

Citizens, arise, is what I say.

Now, from the shade of Salt Spring Island, I say adieu for another few days. I'll be able to check my e.mail on Monday morning at

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


B.C. farmland under attack

Three men face charges of influencing the removal of land from the Sooke Agricultural Land Reserve. Read the whole background analysis by Charles Campbell, published in 20 April 2006 in The Straight:


Court Room 101, the real Dave Basi stands up

So here's the plan: On Thursday, 20 July 2006, I hope to be in Victoria, at 850 Burdett (corner of Burdett & Blanshard) in Court Room 101, where Basi, Young, and Duncan are scheduled to appear in response to criminal charges of bribery.

The three men are facing charges that a $50,000. bribe was allegedly paid by the two real estate developers to Dave Basi for the alleged purpose of influencing the removal of land from British Columbia's Agricultural Land Reserve -- land which became a 650-house development in Sooke.

This trial is not, so far as I know, connected to the Legislature raids. But it is a first opportunity to hear Dave Basi speak on the subject of Dave Basi. And as we hear the Prosecution's case unfold -- and if the charges are proven in court -- this trial should provide the first split in the shield of silence surrounding the possibility of corruption in governemt. If it shows a pattern -- a modus operendi -- for the way these things happen, we may begin to understand not just the A.L.R. in Sooke, but things like the sell-off of B.C. Rail, the near-loss of Roberts Bank, and much else. We need to know how corruption of public policy can happen.

99.9% of B.C. citizens are innocent of such knowledge. We may guess, or doubt, but who among us knows if Mr Big keeps a suite at the Empress Hotel or at Laurel Point, where he (with diamond ring, cigar, ribald jokes) offers drinks and hints each afternoon at 5:00? Nah, didn't think so. Or if it's a swift "Pssst ... wanna buy a railroad?" whispered in the Legislature corridors. No? Or is it something much more ordinary, like happy talk amongst up-and-coming associates where, having already noted which way the winds are blowing*, idle speculation can turn into cash. Illegal, of course -- for both briber and bribee -- but who's to know?

And that's just it. Citizens know next to nothing about the kinds of serious questions which will be tested in a court of law, once the trials begin.

*Those 32 boxes of files we saw police hauling out of the offices of Basi (Ministry of Finance) and Virk (Ministry of Transportation) suggest that these two top-rank Cabinet ministers' aides were not exactly trying to hide the evidence.


Anyone who sees any mention of these cases in any newspaper or TV, please report the sightings here. To send a message direct to BC Mary, my summer e.mail address is: I'd like to know what people, in general, are saying about the issues surrounding The Legislature Raids.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Kafka revisited ... Nanaimo, B.C.

Today, BC Mary had lunch with the 4 people who are responsible for launching me into print on the Basi-Virk issues. I had encountered them in their on-line ListServ and as we became acquainted, I asked them if they were following this story. Although they're lively, interested, well-informed citizens, they said they had only a vague general memory of the Legislature Raids and asked me to write up a summary, which I did. They promptly circulated "Why David Basi is Important To Us" and persuaded Malaspina College radio to do a brief, live, on-air interview which ran to 40 minutes.

So today, we had lunch at Earl's in Nanaimo, and then 3 of them led the way to Nanaimo Court House where we hoped to discover the 3 dates: when will the trial of former Constable Ravinder Dosanjh continue? when and where does the trial of Basi, Young, and Duncan begin? And what is the date for the main Legislature trial of Basi, Virk, and Basi?

One of the 4 had worked for 17 years as Executive Assistant to an Ontario cabinet minister, so she stepped up to the plain-looking wicket with the simple sign pointing to it: Supreme Court. I was glad to have the anonymity, and stayed in the background. I felt that the whole business of having to attend the Court House in person, to be just a little threatening.

Well ... guess what. "You can't get that information here," said the nice young lady behind the wicket. "You need to go to Victoria for that."

Victoria, for Chrissake, is where the Court Registry Enquiries lady told me that people had to attend their nearest Court House, in person, and use their computer to obtain these dates. "I don't know why they would have told you that," said the young lady. "You can obtain this information by telephone. I'll give you the number: it's (250)356-1478. And if you can't obtain the information you want, ask to speak to the Manager."

Right. We felt we were on the right track.

But no. Later, on checking my notes, I saw that the phone number she gave us, is the number which had previously refused to give me the info, which had told me to visit my local Court House in Parksville.

And it had already dawned upon me that when I got hustled off to phone Sooke Court House for the date of Trial #2, that particular lady had no trouble at all, about giving me this information.

"All this should be public information, freely available on-line, just the way Libraries are," harrumphed one of my commandos as we slouched back down the steps to the parking lot.

This ain't over. This ain't even getting started, really. What this is, is downright embarrassing (democratically speaking). See ya later.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


The missing Parksville Court House

I'm wondering if purgatory sometimes happens before you die. I'm wondering if certain events, such as The Legislature Raids, are designated fire pits.
Let me repeat here that I phoned the Victoria Court Registry Enquiries (250) 356-1478 expecting to find out the date on which the trial of Basi, Young, & Duncan would begin. I was told that this information couldn't be given over the telephone (why not? I wondered). The correct procedure was for me to appear at the Court House and use their computer to ask the question. When I told her I was in Parksville, she said very clearly, "Then go to the Parksville Court House." I thanked her, and set off to find this place. I told you about finding its doors locked, despite the hours of business painted clearly on the glass doors ... not to mention an ominous warning (painted in the same dignified font) about not taking knives and guns into the Court House.
To make a fresh start this morning I arrived early at the Parksville Court House and although the lights were on inside the reception area, the doors remained locked. A car horn honked at the curb. A nice lady (and Bailey, why is it always "nice ladies" who come to my rescue??) called out, "They're not here yet, but they're coming."
Then she said, still at the wheel of her pick-up truck, "Are you here about the lease on this building?"
Me: No. I'm here because ... [well, you know the story ...]
Through gales of loud laughter, my new friend explained that "The Parksville Court House had been closed for FIVE years! The nearest Court House is in Nanaimo."
"Wouldn't you think," my voice was rising, "that in 5 bloody years somebody could've put a note on the door?"
Her voice was rising, too. "The whole thing just makes me furious," she said. "We need our Court House ..." and she rhymed off several other government services which no longer had a Parksville address ... a town which is growing. Crime here is also growing. The Harleys cruise through town every evening between 10:00 and 11:00 PM. The sirens never sleep.
She looked at me, disappointed. "I thought you were here to negotiate the lease with us." Nope, not me.
Together, we denounced the forces of chaos tearing at this province. And wished each other well. But as we talked, I had been watching men at work erecting a 9-storey building just below the old Island Hall. It seemed to be made of plywood. Plywood. The empty Court House was solid brick.


Breaking news ... Basi in court

Within hours of landing in Victoria, BC Mary began phoning around the B.C. Court system asking if the trial of Basi, Young, and Duncan would begin on 29 June.

I learned that UDHE BASI and the two land developers DUNCAN and YOUNG were scheduled to appear in B.C. Provincial Court, 850 Burdett, in downtown Victoria, that very morning, June 28.

"But it's only an Election to Proceed," explained the nice Court Registrations Lady in Sooke (long story), "that is, they decide how, when, and where to hold the actual trial."

Confident that the Judge's decision would appear in the newspapers for June 29 at the latest, I pressed on for Salt Spring Island, picked up my car, then drove up to Parksville. Like, I never can get it through my head that this Basi affair isn't working out that way. How I wish that you could prove me wrong, when I tell you that nothing -- absolutely nothing --has appeared in print as to the next step in the side-issue concerning charges of bribery regarding the removal of land from the Sooke Agricultural Land Reserve.

I do not want this blogspot to take on a partisan slant. This whole issue is far too important for that. But it is very hard to forget the relentless news reports which swirled around a certain home-made back porch alleged to have had alarming criminal implications. Is it too much to ask, now, that trial dates should be published, and judges' decisions reported, when charges actually do come before the courts about things like BC Rail?

July 4. BC Mary tries again. Beginning with Victoria Court Registry enquiries: 250.356.1478. When the nice lady says "May I help you?" I reply that I need to know the date for the trial of Basi, Young and Duncan re a criminal charge that land was removed from Sooke ALR because of a $50,000 bribe. "The election was held on 28 June," I added helpfully.

"I'm sorry," she said, sounding suddenly weary. "That information can't be given over the telephone. You must go to the Court House and use their computer." Mary: "I'm in Parksville." Nice weary lady "Then you should go to the Parksville Court House."

I look it up in the Parksville blue pages. Sure enough, this lovely patch of sandy beach boasts a squat, red brick building at 198 Morison Street. I am suddenly shaky but, remembering that a Canadian soldier never shrinks from duty even when he/she damwell should, I approach the almost-hidden door with the sign in its window. The door is locked. The sign says:

Hours: 9:00 AM - 12:00 noon, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM Monday to Friday.

I look at my watch. It is almost 2:00 PM. It seems par for this course.

I am not giving up. But I really do need help on this issue. It seems that any British Columbian anywhere in B.C. can, in theory, access this information. You ... or you ... or you could dredge up this info: 1) when and where do Basi, Young, & Duncan go to trial? 2) exactly when do Basi, Virk & Basi go to trial,? and 3) when does the interrupted trial of former Constable Ravinder Dosanjh get under way again?

Post the info in the COMMENTS sections here ... and it will speed others in their search.

I had an interesting and disturbing conversation with a bright young woman today who told me she didn't want to hear anything about The Legislature Raids because, she said, "All politicians are corrupt. All governments are the same. I don't even vote anymore. Etc Etc." So I said to her, "None of the people charged in The Legislature Raids were elected, so there's no point saying you won't vote for them. Nor were they civil servants, so firing a few workers won't solve the problem. These guys were selected, and hired, by B.C. Cabinet Ministers. They are part of the provincial infrastructure. If we all turn away, refusing to look, who will ever know what went wrong? Who will correct it?"

This poor, beautiful province. We absolutely have to care about it.