Friday, November 03, 2006
Remembering the home-made back porch which almost destroyed a B.C. premier
30 days from now, on 4 December 2006, Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi, Bobby Singh Virk, and Aneal Basi are expected to stand trial before Justice Elizabeth Bennett. It's been almost 3 years since the unprecedented raid on their B.C. Legislature offices. Let's look back at some of the comments. - BC Mary
B.C. voters need to know the facts
By MARK HUME
April 11, 2005
When I finished reading the thick binder of highly confidential documents, I closed the file and looked across at the lawyer who was, by court order, hovering over me.
"There might never be a conviction," I said. "But his political career is finished."
The lawyer nodded pensively and took back the documents. They were sealed under an order issued by Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm of the British Columbia Supreme Court and I was reminded I could not discuss or report on the contents, even though it was of profound importance to the citizens of British Columbia.
The search warrants, affidavits and tell-all documents the police call Information to Obtain that I had just read related to a scandal that was then swirling around Glen Clark, the B.C. premier who eventually lost his job over a sun deck.
The material described Mr. Clark's frequent meetings with Dimitrios Pilarinos, his neighbour and friend. It contained wire-tap transcripts and covert surveillance by RCMP teams.
Oh, it was tawdry stuff all right, describing a relationship that one of the players, Mr. Pilarinos, thought would lead to a lucrative casino licence in return for a free sun deck. In the end, Mr. Clark was acquitted of breach of trust charges, but deemed guilty in public opinion of having appallingly bad judgment.
The important thing to recall about those secret documents, however, was that while they were locked away for several months, they did come out before the 2001 election.
Mr. Clark resigned. Voters, en masse, abandoned the New Democrats, and Gordon Campbell's Liberal Party swept to power.
This spring, with the May 17 election on the horizon, Judge Dohm is again sitting on potentially explosive documents: the search warrants and Information to Obtain connected to the December, 2003, raid of the B.C. Legislature. In that case, Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi, Bobby Singh Virk and Aneal Basi have been charged with several counts of fraud, breach of trust and money laundering. In separate charges, Dave Basi is charged with cultivating marijuana for trafficking.
Dave Basi and Mr. Virk were both top ministerial aides for the provincial Liberals and they worked as backroom organizers, vote-getters and fundraisers for both the provincial and federal Liberals.
They were organizers in B.C.'s Indo-Canadian community for Paul Martin's leadership campaign and helped increase the size of the party from 4,000 members in February of 2002, to more than 37,000 a year later. They were hired by provincial Liberal cabinet ministers and had key jobs that gave them access to advance, inside information on the $1-billion sale of BC Rail to CN.
As in the Clark case, Judge Dohm has allowed the media access to the Basi/Virk file. To view this material, you must sign a confidentiality agreement so binding you can't even discuss the documents.
Could the material be damaging to the Liberals? Roger McConchie, a Vancouver lawyer who has read the file for The Globe and Mail, could not comment.
He noted that had I signed the confidentiality agreement, I could not have written this column because to suggest, even in a vague way, that the material could be of political significance could be a breach of the court order.
In court recently, in a failed bid on behalf of The Globe and CTV to unseal the documents, Mr. McConchie argued that a ban on reporting the material "would be profound at a crucial time in the electoral process."
He told court the ban interferes "with the rights of voters who should have access to the most complete information available . . . pertaining to the most important democratic duty which most Canadians will undertake in their lives: their choice as to who will govern them."
As we have seen with the recent release of the sensational Gomery material, which was briefly suppressed by a publication ban, voters want to know and need to know about any allegations of scandal in the political arena.
B.C. voters will eventually know what Mr. McConchie and others learned when they took the vow of secrecy and read the file.
But by then it could be too late. The court doesn't sit again on the legislative-raid case until May 30, 2005 -- 13 days after voters go to the polls.
How many B.C. elections and how many federal elections have we had, since the Legislature raids?
I don't seem to be hearing much about some of the more interesting elements of this [Legislature Raids] case.
The bribery. the $800,000+ in real estate on a $65,000 salary. The fact that some of that real estate at least was used for a grow op. The transfer of money to the federal Liberal party.
The question for me isn't 'was some corporation offering bribes and finding politicians willing to take them?' That stuff is just too ordinary. Tacky, really.
The good questions for me are, Was our provincial goverment running dope houses? What exact relationship do they have with the Hells Angels and the Mafia? Where exactly did all that money, claimed to be for false memberships, come from and ultimately go? What's the Maui connection?
Remember? The first cabinet meeting to deal with this raid was held in Maui. Extraordinary stuff. In light of the Accenture/Enron stuff, I really do want answers to these questions, and good ones too.
But of course, there was no business for a fall session this year, so there's nobody to ask.
But we often hear that Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberals "swept to power in 2001," as it says in this excellent Mark Hume column, too.
Doesn't anyone remember the then-premier NDP Ujjal Dosanjh who, 2 weeks before Election Day 2001, publicly announced that the NDP wouldn't win and that he was virtually giving up? Remember that? Who the heck would vote for a loser?
It was an appalling moment in political history and 1,001 epithets spring to mind.
But that the Liberals "swept to power" because of their own virtues? No, that isn't one of the epithets I'd ever use.
Links to this post: