Thursday, November 02, 2006
A.G. concerned RCMP wiretapped premier
Wednesday, Nov 01, 2006
B.C. attorney general expresses concern that premier wiretapped by RCMP
VICTORIA (CP) - British Columbia's attorney general says he is concerned that an RCMP wiretap recorded an innocent phone call between Premier Gordon Campbell and his then-finance minister in 2003, slightly before police raided the legislature in late December.
Wally Oppal, a former B.C. Appeal Court judge, said Wednesday that his office has not been asked to consider the matter officially. "But it's obviously something we're concerned with," he said on his way into a weekly cabinet meeting.
He said he was troubled by reports the RCMP may not have been entirely up front about the fact the wiretap warrant was for a government phone.
"I don't know whether they misled the judge," said Oppal, who as a judge said he authorized many wiretaps. "It would bother me if they did.
"Keep in mind this is an invasion of privacy of phone calls that are lawful in every sense (and) if something is altered without the consent of a judge then that's something that is a matter of concern."
While Oppal expressed his opinion, the province's solicitor general, responsible for the RCMP in B.C., was reluctant.
"These are matters that are playing out in court as we speak and I think are best left there," said John Les.
© The Canadian Press, 2006
Wiretaps are pretty intrusive. I don't think that I'm keen on the police being able to invent a basis for listening to my telephone calls and tricking some judge into issuing the warrant.
Have you no confidence in the judicial system?
Ya think this couldn't be dealt with at trial?
Ya think it's best to have this A.G. tossing off a verdict (mistrial) on his way into a meeting?
This isn't how I want to see BC Rail go down ...
If they were talking about "lawful" stuff on the phone, yeah. If they were talkin' about moving 200 lbs of cocaine or stealing a railroad, not so lawful. If I get elected can I sell drugs or nuclear weapons on the phone and nobody can listen in, cause I'm "privileged?" Politics is sounding like the line to go into, do whatever you want and you are immune. Pinochet thought so too!
Perhaps instead of harping on police abuses (not that they don't occur), maybe we should be talking about abuse of "ministerial privilege!"
If a mistrial is called on these wiretaps I will personally head down to Victoria with a pitch fork.
Attorney General not been asked to look into wiretap reports
Nov, 01 2006 - 1:20 PM
“VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980)” - Attorney-General Wally Oppal says he has not been asked to look into reports that the RCMP accidentally listened in on a phone call between Premier Gordon Campbell and former Finance Minister Gary Collins during the investigation that lead to the raid on the legislature.
Oppal says these things happen during wiretap operations.
"That's always been the problem with the wiretap sections of the code, very often people who are entirely innocent of any kind of wrongdoing are caught in the intercepts."
Oppal says he would be concerned if the Mounties misled a judge to get those wiretap warrants.
Or people who were thought to be innocent before they were caught in the wiretaps. I know that all along the police and every official voice has maintained that no elected officials (i.e. resigned cabinet ministers etc.) were suspects. However this case apparently involves bribery and influence peddling in regard to government policy decisions. If David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi are making policy decisions, then what in the hell are we paying all those other guys for? If Aides run the government then lets "downsize" those other guys and reduce the cost and size of government right there. We would save all those mega salaries, gold plated retirement plans, transportation costs, constituency office costs. Government by junior bureaucrats, cheaper with the same results or lack of results.
Wally Oppal could find work as a shock radio host the next day. Gordo, I don't know, he may need some retraining. DeJong could go to clown school, with advanced standing and Carole Taylor could do toothpaste commercials. The hard ones to place we could ship to Alberta or the Fraser Institute.
B.C. case puts spotlight on Mounties' methods
VANCOUVER — The RCMP has a lot riding on a sensational case arising, in part, from the force's bold raid on the British Columbia Legislature almost three years ago. If you're going to pull off a move like that — and instantly ruin careers and reputations in the process — you'd better have the goods.
So far, at least, the actions of the Mounties in this high-profile case have not been cast in the best light.
This week in pretrial hearings at B.C. Supreme Court, for instance, it was revealed that the force was twice refused permission by the courts to wiretap a provincial government cellphone, but got the go-ahead on a third attempt by not telling the judge the phone was registered at the legislature.
After getting approval, the Mounties then inadvertently eavesdropped on a conversation between Premier Gordon Campbell and his finance minister, who was using the phone of the ministerial aide the RCMP was targeting.
Most of the attention stemming from the raid on the legislature has focused on that aide, Dave Basi. Mr. Basi has been charged with influence peddling in connection with a company's bid for the publicly owned BC Rail, which was previously up for sale.
Although Mr. Basi has yet to be found guilty of anything, he was fired a day after the raid was conducted on Dec. 28, 2003. The Premier's office was apparently informed by the RCMP that charges against Mr. Basi were imminent.
As it turned out, he wouldn't be charged until a year later.
In September of 2004, the RCMP announced that after a two-year investigation it was laying drug charges against Mr. Basi and seven others. In Mr. Basi's case, the charges involved a grow-op the Mounties found in a house owned by the former political aide but rented out to another individual.
Charges against Mr. Basi would later be withdrawn.
When the case against Mr. Basi gets to court, more information is likely to surface regarding some of the RCMP's actions that are at least highly questionable.
For instance, the lead investigator for the Mounties in the massive drug and money-laundering case was Corporal Andrew Cowan. It is Cpl. Cowan who swore the search-warrant information leading to the raid on the legislature.
Mr. Basi's defence team plans to raise the fact Cpl. Cowan purchased a home from the Basi family in June of 1999. He dealt specifically with Dave Basi leading up to and after the sale. However, in the months after the sale, according to Mr. Basi, Cpl. Cowan took issue with problems at the home.
Discussions between Cpl. Cowan and Mr. Basi over this became quite acrimonious, again according to Mr. Basi. In the end, however, the Basis refused to financially remedy Cpl. Cowan to fix the problems.
(Contacted Wednesday, Cpl. Cowan said that was not his recollection of events, but if someone “can present evidence to the contrary I'd be prepared to look at it.”)
Beginning in spring, 2004, Mr. Basi, desperate for income, began applying for jobs at Victoria-area companies. One was a consulting firm whose owner Mr. Basi knew.
Months later, however, the owner of the business was called upon at his home by Cpl. Cowan and another RCMP officer. According to the owner, who was later interviewed by the officers at RCMP headquarters in Victoria, Cpl. Cowan made it clear to him it would be a mistake to continue having a working relationship with Mr. Basi. The relationship ended soon after.
How did the RCMP even know that Mr. Basi was working for the firm? And why would the police discourage the company from having Mr. Basi on its payroll?
The RCMP also visited the owner of a manufacturing company that was considering giving Mr. Basi work. According to the owner of the company, who was interviewed by The Globe and Mail, one of the officers told him it would be a mistake to hire Mr. Basi because he was a troublemaker who would likely “unionize his company.”
The man never hired Mr. Basi.
(Cpl. Cowan said he could not comment on these allegations because the case is before the courts).
Michael Bolton, defence lawyer for Mr. Basi, confirmed yesterday that he intends to raise both of these matters at some point.
There's no question these allegations raise troubling questions not only about motive and possible prejudice, but also about the investigative techniques used by police.
As I said, the RCMP has a tremendous amount riding on this case. The last thing it wants is this case becoming an investigation into the actions of the force itself.
Are we hearing fact(s) here, or is this spin?
Certainly, if what Mason's heard is confirmed the RCMP will look a lot worse than it does now.
Did any of you see Vaughn Palmer, Keith Baldrey and ?? on Channel 11?
They all seemed to think the AG came out rather well in his little confrontation with the chief judge and that, as they put it - that's why Wally got into politics - to help correct the problems and iron-out the wrinkles in the justice system. They concluded that the public was behind him.
On the Basi case itself, they all feigned (my thinking) confusion about the whole case...while making much of their own background as court reporters.
On sober reflection, wouldn't it have been their Cabinet ministers who made the final decision? Signed off the final documents? Where did Basi or Virk fit into that gentle scene?
Do you believe that there hasn't been any internal investigation of how that final decision on BC Rail was worked out? Were the CN guys interviewed? Nobody but Basi and Virk?
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