Saturday, November 04, 2006

 

Basi, Virk acted to protect Liberal interests?

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Aides may have been acting to protect Liberal interests in BC Rail sale

Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun
November 04, 2006

VICTORIA - On the day after the police descended on the B.C. legislature in late 2003, an RCMP representative met with the news media to discuss the raid.

"Let me start by saying that illegal drug activity by organized crime in B.C. has reached critical mass," Sgt. John Ward told reporters.

"Organized crime has stretched its way into every corner of B.C. and into most city streets. It is not an exaggeration to say that organized crime is a cancer eating away at the social and moral fabric of B.C. . . . However police are making gains against organized crime where we can."

Illegal drugs. A cancer eating away at the fabric of the province. The tentacles of organized crime reaching inside the provincial parliament ....

...................snip........................
The aides are accused of being involved in the exchange of confidential information regarding the sale [of BC Rail] and of gaining benefits and/or other considerations in return.

But one possible defence would be that they were authorized to pass along information to keep the bidding process alive.

That was a critical consideration for the B.C. Liberals as they moved to privatize BC Rail in the second half of 2003.

The preferred bidder was CN Rail. It had a continent-wide rail network and it was offering the highest price -- $1 billion.

But to preserve the competitive aspect of the process and to keep pressure on CN, the government needed other bidders.

Initially there were three. But one dropped out in the early going and a second exited in the final month, complaining that the process was tainted.

With only one other bidder left, the competitive aspect was hanging by a threat. Not surprisingly, the Liberals wanted to keep that alternative player in the game.

The rival bidder was OmniTRAX, a Colorado-based operator. It did stay in until the announcement Nov. 25, 2003, that CN Rail would takeover BC Rail.

OmniTRAX subsequently got involved in bidding for another BC Rail asset, the spur line serving the Roberts Bank superport.

There was talk that it might prevail in the bidding process as a sort of consolation prize.

But the Roberts Bank sale was cancelled in early 2004. Police had advised the government that confidential information regarding the spur line had ended up in the wrong hands, possibly compromising the bidding process.

The charges in the case imply a tit-for-tat. The aides were allegedly passing confidential information to gain something for themselves.

But what if any passing was inspired by their bosses, the politicians? What if the objective was to keep OmniTrax in the loop and thereby preserve the credibility of the BC Rail sale? ...

vpalmer@direct.ca

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Is that a Freudian slip or a typo, where Palmer says "the competitive process was hanging by a threat" or did he mean "thread" ... in the Legislature Raids case, who can guess.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Comments:
It was annoying, the cyber-problems with blogs today. If you couldn't get on to leave a comment, I hope you'll try again.

I couldn't get on either, and it bugged me, because I had made a dumbo error saying the Basi, Virk, Basi trial was coming up "60 days from now, on 4 December" when of course it should've been 30 days. Thanks to Koot for doing the math.

I really want to hear others comment on Wally the Trial Killer who tossed off stupid, prejudicial remarks while prancing down the corridor to attend a meeting. I mean, how smart is that. How learned. How judicial.

If Wally has actually succeeded in tainting the evidence so that Judge Bennett has to dismiss this case, I've made up my mind to emulate the old Doukhobor women. That'll scare him.

And I mean, who else will do it? Only the premier is in a position to do so, and like I said before, all these guys would be happy to see the whole mess thrown out of court. Well, wouldn't they?
 
Wow.

This time around you don't even have to read between Mr. Palmer's lines.

And don't forget that it was he who once again brought up the matter of meetings between Mr. Collins and the folks from Omnitrax back in the day.

Could this thing be veering off in an entirely different direction?

One in which allegedly 'innocent' cellphone conversations just might be anything but?

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J. MacPhail: Well, I think it's even more troubling — the fact that Mr. Basi had his own sphere separate and apart from this minister in the Ministry of Finance. It's really shocking how…. Who else is given this sphere of influence in this government?

What role did CIBC World Markets play in the sale of B.C. Rail?

Hon. G. Collins: Again, I'm not the minister responsible, but they were, to the best of my knowledge, providing financial advice to Mr. Trumpy's team of advisers.

J. MacPhail: Well, in fact, the minister commented publicly on the role of CIBC World Markets when it was revealed that they made a presentation that CN would be…. I remember it as the best choice, but they clearly indicated that CN was the best choice, and it was this minister that commented on that. Can the minister remember what his comments were?

Hon. G. Collins: Yes, I think it was my first quarterly report last year in September — September 10 or 12 or something like that. My comment was that it was highly inappropriate — they were to be providing advice to the review committee, not the general public — and that we would be taking that up with them. Actually, I said I thought somebody already had taken it up with them. My understanding is that they were told that it was an inappropriate comment — that the process was not complete and that their role was to provide advice to the review team set up and led by Mr. Trumpy, not to the public.

J. MacPhail: Was it Mr. Basi that brought that to your attention about CIBC World Markets favouring CN?

Hon. G. Collins: I think it was commented on in the media, if I'm correct. I don't remember where it came from. I just remember it was public. I was asked that at the quarterly report.

[1545]

J. MacPhail: Did Mr. Basi discuss that with you before your public response?

Hon. G. Collins: I don't recall, but I don't believe so.

J. MacPhail: That's interesting, very interesting. Well, there'll be more to come out on that.

Why wasn't the…?

Interjection.

J. MacPhail: Well, there will…. This minister claiming complete innocence around any of this is really a bit too much to bear, Mr. Chair. Completely too much to bear.

Interjection.

The Chair: The Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

J. MacPhail: His unbelievable lack of ministerial responsibility…. I mean, the only conclusion you have to reach is that he didn't have a clue what was going on inside his own ministry. Why was Partnerships B.C. not involved? Or were they involved in the B.C. Rail deal? Did people like Ms. Sanatani meet on B.C. Rail or…?

Hon. G. Collins: No, not to my knowledge. Partnerships B.C. was not involved. This was a particular transaction that would stand on its own. We had the appropriate people in place to deal with it, a team led by Mr. Trumpy. There were others. There were independent legal advisers as well as independent business advisers.

Mr. Chairman, I just might comment…. Throughout the debate today and yesterday, the member has made veiled allegations or references to other information that is going to come out and then has one of those neat little smiles on her face. If she has information that would assist the investigation, she should forward it. If she has information that is part of the investigation, it would be interesting to know how she obtained that.

J. MacPhail: Oh, thank you for the ethical advice about integrity. Thanks very much. Coming from this

[ Page 9048 ]

minister, that really means a lot. Both his personal record and his government's record….

When does it get decided about whether Partnerships B.C. is part of a privatization effort?
 
Hey, Collins told folks that he hardly recoginized Basi. I guess the pictures of the two of them trotting down the hallways in the Ledg would indicate otherwise.Having Basi's cell phone woud be highly ulikely if Collins hardly knew him Hey unkown person with an offcie just ourside my door, can I borrow your phone to talk to the Premier? So who gave the guy the job? Collins?Some one else? Who gave the other two jobs? It isn't like they got into the system by a competition. Such functionaries get there and stay there because the Minister approves them. And of course being charged doesn't mean guilty. Innocent till proven otherwise.The crown lays the charges not the cops. Time will tell. This story isn't going to go away anytime soon. Glad to see some high profile columnists are on the case. dl
 
"Hey, unknown person with an office just outside my door, can I borrow your phone to talk to the Premier?"

Good one, DL.

Basi was the only Ministerial aide who was hired personally by the Cabinet Minister he'd be working for. After that, every ministerial aide was hired by Martyn Brown, the premier's chief of staff.

Sometimes Victoria sounds like a very small town.

Lynx ... another great find in Hansard. Keep 'em coming!
 
Abramoff, star of his own Repugnant killing crime spree down in the wild 48, said famously:
"You're nobody in this town (D.C.) unless you don't know me."

Victoria version - "You're nobody unless you don't know David Basi."

DL
"Glad to see some high profile columnists are on the case"

I'd be even gladder if they started sayin' something other than "nothing here, move along." It's good to see this travesty finally getting some attention. However having the top legal officer in the province trying to create a mistrial and the best columnists (of a poor crop) trying to explain why it is even less important than ever is hardly the kind of attention I would prefer to see. At the House of Infamy I will try to disassemble Vaughn's puffery from this week, a difficult task as it is so insubstantial it tends to float off when broken into smaller pieces, like cotton candy.

Comparison
Glen Clark deck case (way before trial) - Gentleman of Italian heritage exits card room in north Burnaby = significant action re televised indefinitely on TeeVee as it is IMPORTANT - maybe the Mafia had the deck built and a dead horse's head is underneath.

Basi, Basi and Virk pretrial - Anything dealing with sale of BC Rail and Robert's Bank cancelled sale = barely relevant
Drug connections = less than unimportant as original Basi charges dropped
ALR = Obviously unimportant as it hasn't come up yet (even though those charges were filed separately and much later.
Spidermann = not charged, must be clean (not saving his white ass by being the rat)

and so forth.......
 
V.Palmer who some folks don't like had a couple of media folks on Voice of BC. The trial came up as first item. The program was replayed this evening and will be replayes again shortly. It's on the Shaw Channel. worth watching as always. dl
 
Re: The Possible Setting Up Of The Alleged Quid Pro Quo:

"Deep Anon", on an earlier thread suggested we dig-up what Elayne Brenzinger asked the Premier, in the Ledge, about the matter.

What follows is cross-posted from that thread.....


_____

Would this be the question....from Hansard for Oct 6th, 2004 .

E. Brenzinger: My question is directly to the Premier and not to the Minister of Transportation, as this
clearly is not a transportation question. As early as June 2002, then-CEO of CN Rail, Paul
Tellier, discussed with the Vancouver Sun editorial board CN acquiring B.C. Rail, despite the fact that only a year earlier the Premier had promised not to sell B.C. Rail.

On November 21, 2003, CP Rail wrote a letter to the Premier stating that the government's handling of the B.C. Rail sale was extremely prejudiced. My question, directly to the Premier, is: will he con firm that he did in fact meet with then-CEO Paul Tellier in Kamloops prior to an RFP being issued regarding the sale of B.C. Rail, and that amongst the matters discussed was the purchase price of CN?

Hon. K. Falcon: Clearly, this is an issue that the member continues to raise, so I might direct the mem-
ber to Charles River Associates Inc., the independent report that was done on the B.C. Rail–CN investment
partnership. He actually goes into some detail over that CP letter. You will find that it was canvassed very, very
thoroughly, and there was no fault found whatsoever.

[1435]

I would encourage the member to actually take the time to read the report, and when the member reads that report, she will have all the answers there for herself.

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Thanks for these significant, welcome additions to our understanding of the Basi Virk Basi trial, its background and surrounding influences and issues.

Robin checked in yesterday. He's working on the ever-expanding file, and he'll send us a report a.s.a.p., which IMO will be more informative than what little we've been told so far. He attended each day (except for 1/2 of one day) so he must've been gripped by the performance, to say the least.

And BTW, Robin gave the first clue that the pre-trial conference ended with Thursday's session. I searched for that info. in the mainstream news, no luck.

Then hats off to us. Lynx, Gazetteer, DL, and the Anons and others are making valuable contributions here. Many thanks to all.

I enjoy Koot's sharp insight and irreverence -- and note that he's going to fire up his House of Infamy again soon.

All of us are going to be challenged again soon ... November 13, I think ... when Judge Elizabeth Bennett is expected to give her rulings on the objections and motions raised during this pre-trial conference.

Issues like: will the Basi Virk Basi case be dismissed, following the A.G.'s prejudicial comments about the evidence?
 
Mary, isn't it weird that we have to guess what's happening - will there be rulings?
Issues like: will the Basi Virk Basi case be dismissed, following the A.G.'s prejudicial comments about the evidence?
I'm not so sure that the law has all that much respect now, that it can callously invite everyone to give up their last shreds. Or is justice a commodity for sale by the pound (oops, I meant kilogram), and there is no excuse to pretend otherwise?

How have we come to the point where the whole idea that someone through personal connections and insider trading of information may have got a deal on a railroad that wasn't even supposed to be for sale and belonged to all the people of BC is not as important as whether a guy got a deal on a small deck on a modest home in East Van?

I doubt that anyone has fallen off Glen's deck and been killed, unlike BC Rail under it's new non-public ownership. I guess in the Neo-Con paradise ferries don't need to stay on top of the water and trains don't need to stay on the tracks, as long as the right people make profits.

Anybody that ain't happy with the program, just needs to learn how to be one of the "right" people, then it all makes perfect sense. Oh, the fact that the West End sometimes seems like a third world city, sorta goes with the program, to be successfully greedy and rich you need to learn to put up with it or block out those who don't play the game properly - have a nice day.

Privatize Profits - Socialize Costs
 
"Like BC Rail under its new non-public ownership," y'say, Koot. It starts me thinking again of Don Faulkner, a genuine BC Rail guy, who loved the railroad and was its best advocate.

A powerful, ethical, intelligent man, Don was killed on a former BC Rail train near Lilloet last June ... just as he predicted would happen.

Don and a co-worker, Tom Dodd, died trying to save a now-CN train with faulty brakes, a privately-owned CN train now desperate to make profits.

More about this later.
 
... I mean, nobody can truthfully say that the sale of BC Rail, botched or not, doesn't have an effect upon the province it once belonged to.
 
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