Thursday, November 02, 2006
Joy MacPhail: "Was the Minister aware ... ?"
J. MacPhail: I have two concluding questions. These are a follow-up from my questions around lobbying. The minister said he never met with Pilothouse. Did he ever meet with anyone from Omnitrax itself?
Hon. G. Collins: Yes. I have met with Pat Broe prior to the B.C. Rail transaction process starting. I met with him once after the B.C. Rail transaction had completed.
J. MacPhail: Boy, I'm sure glad I get the questions right. Is the minister aware of any of his staff that met with Omnitrax on his behalf?
Hon. G. Collins: I'm not aware of that, whether it would have happened or not — certainly not on my behalf. I wouldn't have directed anybody to do that.
J. MacPhail: And Pat Broe is whom?
Hon. G. Collins: He's the owner, president and CEO, I think, of Broe Companies, of which Omnitrax is a subsidiary.
J. MacPhail: What were the two meetings about?
Hon. G. Collins: The first meeting was, "Hi, this is who I am," on his part. "I'd like to come and invest in British Columbia. I think what you guys are doing makes sense. It looks like a great place for me to invest. I'm interested in all sorts of things." Just a general get-to-know-you type of meeting. I have those regularly with potential investors in British Columbia, if they want to come and talk. It's more of a welcome, get-to-know-you, individual meeting.
After the transaction had closed, Mr. Broe wanted to tell us that despite not winning the B.C. Rail contract, he would be interested in continuing to be part of British Columbia if he could — similar to the prior meeting.
J. MacPhail: Was Mr. Basi present at either of those meetings?
Hon. G. Collins: No.
J. MacPhail: Who staffed the minister?
Hon. G. Collins: I rarely take staff with me. I think it's a waste of their time for the most part when I travel or when I meet with them. Sometimes I do; sometimes I don't. It depends on what the need is. I had a dinner, and I didn't feel I needed staff at a dinner.
J. MacPhail: Was the minister aware that Omnitrax was bidding on the B.C. Rail spur line to Roberts Bank during that period of time?
Hon. G. Collins: No, I wasn't. I knew they were generally looking to do investments in British Columbia. We certainly didn't talk in any great detail about any of their proposals. Rather, it was a general discussion of things they might do in British Columbia. They were still interested in British Columbia. They were disappointed, obviously, that they weren't the successful bidder on CN, but they wanted to continue to have a presence in British Columbia. They were looking for things they might do.
There are a whole range of things they might do. I hope at some point that they are part of that.
I've just written a Letter to the Editor of the Globe and Mail in response to a profile they published today on Wally Oppal. It's one of those "Look who's up-and-coming in B.C." stories about Wally as a community activist, highly respected by his ethnic community, always courageous in promoting a cause ... but not a word about his prejudicial remarks tossed off yesterday which could get an important B.C. Supreme Court trial thrown out. So I talked about that.
Those are the elements of this story of government corruption which do shake me up: when a cornerstone of a stable society is being kicked out from under us ... it's like watching something as deep and ugly as a disease ... and it's difficult to accept calmly. So I wrote.
Meantime I keep wondering "Who is there overseeing Wally? Who could take him by his lapels and shake him real good and say 'Zip your lip, you silly man, and keep it zipped until this trial is over. Now repeat that after me.'"
Who? Only the premier. And Wally was careful to praise the premier's innocence in his prejudicial remarks. So the premier isn't going to want that changed.
Wally is Stockwell Day with a good suntan. I'd like to drop-kick him through the goalposts of life. No, not Stockwell. Well, yeah Stockwell. But Wally too, who has surely to gosh had enough education and enough experience to know better.
It's a sad turn of events for justice in B.C.
Mary check the plant pots on the balcony.
Have they been moved?
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