Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Bill Tieleman: new disclosures rock Collins, Clark, others

Basi Virk Basi -
New defence disclosures rock Gary Collins, Bruce Clark and others
Wednesday 28 February 2007

New allegations made by defence lawyers in Basi Virk BC Legislature raid case touch top levels of provincial and federal Liberal Party insiders.

Lawyers defending David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi in the BC Legislature raid case have filed an application for disclosure with BC Supreme Court that makes a number of stunning allegations.

Among those allegations - and a caution as always that these are merely allegations that have not been yet raised in court, let alone proven - some amazing claims.

• That top RCMP investigator Inspector Kevin DeBruyckere was at the time of the Legislature raids the brother-in-law of BC Liberal Party executive director Kelly Reichert.

• That Reichert was leaked information that key Crown witness lobbyist Erik Bornmann had received immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against Basi, Virk and Basi in the trial.

• That former BC Liberal Finance Minister Gary Collins met with U.S. executives Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson from failed BC Rail privatization bidder OmniTRAX at Vancouver's Villa Del Lupo restaurant to alleged tell them they would get a "consolation prize" of the Roberts Bank superport spur line. That second privatization process was cancelled by the government after the RCMP told officials it was "tainted". Collins yesterday denied that claim and said he would like RCMP videotape surveillance released to clear his name.

• That Bruce Clark, brother of former BC Liberal Deputy Premier Christy Clark and himself an executive of the federal Liberal Party of Canada - BC, had offered bribes to David Basi in an unrelated matter, according to key Crown witness lobbyist Erik Bornmann. Clark has told the Globe and Mail that he has already been investigated and cleared by police in that matter.

The application also alleges Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino has not provided Basi, Virk and Basi's lawyers with the evidence they need to prepare the defence case.

Much, much more on this and other disclosures in the very near future.

Keep up with Bill Tieleman at:


Robin is told that nobody could see the documents!

Everyone knows Robin Mathews -- or should know him -- as a valued poet, playwright, author, political activist, and professor in Canadian academic life. So it should come as no surprise that this passionate British Columbian has taken a keen interest in the B.C. Rail case, having followed the pre-trial conferences and reporting back to us. But BC Mary received this note from Robin on Monday, 26 February, when that pre-trial conference for Basi, Virk, and Basi was expected in B.C. Supreme Court:

Dear Mary. I was there at 9:30, all the postings of cases were up. No [Madam Justice Elizabeth] Bennett, no hearing. And yet you said.... I don't get it. I went to the vpl, sat over a coffee and read for an hour. ta ta, Robin.

I felt terrible. On this blog, I had announced the time and place for that hearing (it was scheduled at their last hearing): Vancouver Supreme Court, 26 Feb. 2007, 9:30 AM, and this busy professor had given his morning to something he thought the public ought to know about.

But I hadn't been able to find the pre-trial conference listed on Court Services OnLine, either. Nor had I received a response from e.mailing the Attorney-General's office. Bill Tieleman was just home from a Mexican holiday and due to broadcast over CKNW in the evening, so he didn't know. All of which left all of us, including Robin, out of the loop because ... much later ... we found out that there had indeed been activity on behalf of Basi, Virk, and Basi.

The first hint came with Jeff Miller's report, sent here as a comment. I couldn't believe it. I didn't know Jeff Miller. He said he was quoting from documents filed on Monday by the defense counsel for Basi, Virk and Basi. He gave a most unusual, colourful summary naming names and naming crimes. Of one thing I was certain: the Supreme Court does not share its documents with the public prior to any trial, and certainly not one as important as the BCRail Trial.

Then the floodgates opened. Every newspaper and radio station in B.C. and even beyond, seemed to be competing to get their own version of the BCRail story out, some of which are posted here on The Legislature Raids. The immediate reaction here was: well, I guess Jeff Miller must have been treated the same as all these other journalists.

But really, what was going on there? Today, another e.mail from Robin. He writes:

I set out today to get to the documents in question on the application for disclosure of the Defence in the Basi, Basi, and Virk case in the hands of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett.  First I telephoned administration to find out the number for trial division.  I was given the wrong number and phoned off and on for an hour and a half. Finally I phoned back to administration to be told I'd been given the wrong number.  (And a little muttering, I believe, about there being lots of people "here".)

Then I got trial division who told me that I would have to go to Criminal Registry for which they gave me the number.  Criminal Registry, you may remember, is the office that refuses to give any information to anyone because Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm has instituted a  gag procedure blocking information on criminal trials "to protect the accused".  I have managed to get a number of documents by very difficult means after being refused them by Criminal Registry (over the last months) to discover that nothing in them has any relation to protection of the accused.  The gag is a dangerous denial of public information, without sufficient reason, and I believe the Dohm "protocol"  is unacceptable and a violation.

Following the information of Trial Division, I telephoned to Criminal Registry to ask where I could see the Application for Disclosure to be told I could not see it, and no one could see it.  I told the person at Criminal Registry that the press and media were reporting on it and quoting from it, and so it is accessible.  The person there said she knew nothing about that and could do nothing for me.

I telephoned back to Trial Division and explained the situation.  The person there asked me to hold while she checked.  She came back on the line, after some time, and told me that I could write to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett and ask to see the documents (the ones that are already being discussed publicly by "accepted" media outlets), or that I could make a formal application to appear before Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett to ask if I can see the documents. 

Plainly, the fundamental freedom of Canadians to have access to public information related to public tribunals is being grossly and intentionally interfered with - and in  this case Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett is fully a party to that denial of rights."

OK ... what is this all about? Did the defence team simply trundle in a dolly-load of extra copies of these documents ready to dispense to the public? If so, how did people know where to meet the defence team? How were they informed? How did they know what to expect?

And is this legal? When lawyers prepare legal documents for the court, aren't those privileged information, filed with, and belonging to, the Supreme Court?

Where could I get a list of all the people who attended that "filing" and received copies of the 32-page Application for Disclosure?


Tales of RCMP antics may shatter Crown's case, says Gary. Again.

Gary Mason didn't stay out of the dog house for long. Although he bravely refers to the BCRail case as "a government corruption trial" Gary is right back on his pre-Christmas hobbyhorse, pre-judging the Trial in favour of the accused. And of course, selecting a new villain: the RCMP. Because it's The Globe and Mail's story, it is listed here. - BC Mary
Tales of RCMP antics may well shatter Crown's case

The Globe and Mail
Print Edition 28/02/07 Page A12

The case against the principals in a government corruption trial is looking flimsier by the day. And the conduct of our national police force is once again being called into question. In fact, the actions of the RCMP have laid the groundwork for a future stay-of-proceedings application by defence lawyers representing three former political aides charged with various counts of bribery and influence peddling in connection with the sale of BC Rail.


RCMP spied on B.C. finance minister

RCMP spied on B.C. finance minister, papers show
Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver sun
February 27, 2007

The RCMP conducted a "massive" surveillance operation to spy on a meeting involving former finance minister Gary Collins as part of the investigation that led to the 2003 raid on the B.C. Legislature, according to court documents filed Monday.

An application for disclosure by the defence in the case says the RCMP engaged in a "massive surveillance operation" to document a Dec. 12, 2003, meeting involving Collins and executives from OmniTRAX, a company that had been bidding in the sale of BC Rail but did not win.

For the complete article, click on:


Did Gary Collins offer OmniTRAX a consolation prize?

Collins denies offer of 'consolation prize'

The Globe and Mail
Print Edition 28/02/07 Page A12

Former provincial finance minister Gary Collins has flatly denied suggestions that he offered a ''consolation prize'' to an unsuccessful bidder in the controversial sale of BC Rail.''There was never any offer by me, or on my approval, in return for any party staying in the bidding,'' Mr. Collins declared in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail. Further, the former high-profile Liberal cabinet minister said he would welcome seeing the details of a restaurant dinner he held with private railway executives - a dinner that the RCMP staked out - broadcast on the six o'clock news.

Full story at

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Opposition grills Attorney General today in Legislature

See what the Opposition asked the Attorney General today, 27 February 2007, in the B.C. Legislature, about the sale of B.C. Rail and the trial. Read what Leonard Krog (Justice Critic) said, what Carole James, Leader of the Opposition said. And what Wally Oppal refused to say. It came up in Oral questions today. For the whole story, click on:
And thanks to DL for finding this.


Heads up: Pre-trial conference 7 March 2007

This welcome note just arrived from the office of the B.C. Attorney-General, concerning the B.C. Rail trial. I'll post another reminder on 6 March. - BC Mary

There is a pre-trial conference set for 9:00 a.m. on March 7, 2007.
Gail Bettger
Criminal Justice Branch


Constitutional challenges expected

In a "24-Hours" story which I've been unable to copy, there is another facet of the B.C. Legislature trial. Look for it under the headline:

B.C. legislature trial set for April. Constitutional challenges expected.
By Dirk Meissner

Michael Bolton, lawyer for Dave Basi, says he will make constitutional arguments to challenge the legislature raid search warrant and court authorizations permitting certain wiretaps.

He said the defence team is "going to be filing our detailed charter applications ... in the next few weeks."

There is no clear indication in any of these news stories that the trial date has been established. It seems curious, therefore, that there's a swarm of news articles at this juncture when there is no movement forward. Nevertheless, it is a welcome source of information.
- BC Mary


Legislature case becomes a swirl of accusations

This is the best overview I've seen today, on the significance of the documents revealed yesterday in B.C. Supreme Court. I'd like to show a larger sample but, although I've read it in the print edition of The Globe and Mail, the on-line story is behind the subscribers' lock. It's worth the $1 and the trek to your local newstand to see the full story. Pretty much atones for that awful Christmas thing Gary wrote. - BC Mary.

Legislature case becomes a swirl of accusations

The Globe and Mail - 27 February 2007
The defence in the fraud and bribery trial connected with the sensational raid on the B.C. Legislature more than three years ago is demanding the Crown turn over potentially hundreds of more documents.


" ... police and Liberals not at arm's length ..."

Cops spy on Collins' dinner with rail execs

Andy Ivens, The Province
February 27, 2007

The B.C. finance minister had a secret meeting in a restaurant with a pair of executives from a U.S. rail firm after letting his aides know the company would receive a contract for the Roberts Bank rail line as consolation for losing out to CN Rail in the bidding for B.C. Rail.

That information -- along with explosive allegations of Liberal insiders' close family connections to police investigators -- is contained in a document filed in B.C. Supreme Court late yesterday in the case against three men charged with fraud and breach of trust in the B.C. Rail sale.

The notice of application for disclosure collectively filed by the three men's lawyers casts light on a murky meeting between Gary Collins -- minister of finance and government house leader at the time -- and OmniTRAX executives Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson on Dec. 12, 2003, at Villa Del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver. They didn't dine alone. After learning that Collins was going to meet with them at the upscale restaurant, police set up surveillance, said the court document. {snip}

As the investigation progressed, it became clear the police and the Liberals were not at arm's length.

Sgt. Debruyckere was the team leader of the investigation into whether any offences were committed in relation to B.C. Rail.

"At the time of Sgt. Debruyckere's appointment as team leader of this investigation, he was the brother-in-law of then-executive director of the B.C. Provincial Liberal Party [Mr.] Kelly Reichert," says the document.

It also points out a suspicious leak about OmniTRAX lobbyist Erik Bornmann providing police with information about Basi and Virk.

". . . In 2004, it became clear that there was a leak of information regarding Mr. Bornmann and the fact of him providing information about Messrs. Basi and Virk to the RCMP. Specifically, the leaked information pertained to Mr. Reichert knowing that Mr. Bornmann had been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for the provision of information against Messrs. Basi and Virk," says the document.

Not only did they tap the conversation of Basi, who was a target of their investigation, they also intercepted Collins and Premier Gordon Campbell chatting about government business, the document discloses. The defence is seeking to have the case thrown out, because of the RCMP's conduct.


RCMP spied on B.C. Minister of Finance

RCMP spied on B.C. finance minister, papers show
Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver sun
Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The RCMP conducted a "massive" surveillance operation to spy on a meeting involving former finance minister Gary Collins as part of the investigation that led to the 2003 raid on the B.C. Legislature, according to court documents filed Monday.

An application for disclosure by the defence in the case says the RCMP engaged in a "massive surveillance operation" to document a Dec. 12, 2003, meeting involving Collins and executives from OmniTRAX, a company that had been bidding in the sale of BC Rail but did not win. {snip}

The application asks for everything from a complete witness list to police notes to witness statements to surveillance tapes, including those of the Collins meeting on Dec. 12, 2003.

That meeting, at the Villa Del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver, involved Collins and OmniTRAX executives Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson, the document says.

After its unsuccessful bid for BC Rail, Colorado-based OmniTRAX then got involved in bidding for another BC Rail asset, the spur line serving the Roberts Bank superport.

The sale was cancelled in early 2004 after police advised the government that confidential information regarding the spur line had ended up in the wrong hands, possibly compromising the bidding.

In the documents filed Monday, lawyers suggest: "the RCMP had implemented a detailed and comprehensive surveillance plan with respect to the actions of Minister Collins in relation to his approval of the Consolation Prize for OmniTRAX.

"Obviously if it were the case that Minister Collins did approve the Consolation Prize, this would materially affect how the RCMP were assessing and treating the conduct of the Ministerial Assistants Messrs. Basi and Virk."

Collins left politics in Dec. 2004 to become president and CEO of Harmony Airways. Earlier this month he announced he will be the new senior vice-president of Vancouver-based Belkorp Industries Inc., a job he is scheduled to start on April 1.

Read more:

Monday, February 26, 2007


News tomorrow on Basi, Virk, Basi trial

Something did happen in B.C. Supreme Court today (26 Feb) but not exactly certain what it was. Confirmation should come tomorrow. What I've heard suggests that the lawyers for Basi, Virk, Basi aren't looking for any further postponements of the trial. Can't be sure, yet. Check back for more news tomorrow. Bill Tieleman is on the case! - BC Mary.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


A renegade police officer uncovers all: The Raid

BC Mary was irritated, last week, by (a) Blogger problems and (b) a few readers who insisted on playing judge and wanted me to declare which "side" I am on. Repeat: no "side". Like everybody else, I just want to know what really happened to B.C. Rail and maybe a few other essential public things as well. No gun-slinging here.

But if you're really tired of waiting for mere facts (and who isn't?), there's a book about how everything might have happened. Yeah! A novel! By a retired Victoria guy named Ken Merkley, who just makes it all up, eh.

The book, The Raid, is available from a self-publishing company, Trafford Publishing, Victoria.

According to Victoria Times Colonist (25 Feb. 06). The Raid book has everything but the facts. It starts with the police raid on the B.C. Legislature, of course. But then it turns into a police-political thriller involving a federal political party using drug money to pay membership fees for new members.

There's money-laundering, election-rigging, sex ... (SEX??) ... and of course, murder. (Whaddaya mean, "of course" murder? And cripes, who gets murdered??)

Anyway, according to the book, it takes a renegade RCMP officer to uncover everything (pardon the pun), doing most of his sleuthing in Greater Victoria. So, says Times Colonist, "if the justice system doesn't get to the bottom of what was going on" 28 December 2003 when the police raided the B.C. Legislature, "The Raid is the next best thing."

A brand new tinfoil hat is the prize for the best book review received here at The Legislature Raids.


Fact: tomorrow, 26 February 2007, is another one of those pre-trial conferences in B.C. Supreme Court, Vancouver, where Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett will preside, with all the lawyers, to try once again to decide when they'll be ready to launch this important trial of Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi, Bob Singh Virk, and Aneal Basi.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Health Conversations? More B.C. resort-style casinos to attract tourists and boost gambling revenues; 60% of BC adults already gambling

B.C. casinos to get glitzy makeover. 'Dumpy' facilities to become resorts in bid to boost revenue, and to position casino gaming as a major tourist attraction for out-of-province players.
Lindsay Kines
Times Colonist February 22, 2007

The B.C. Lottery Corporation plans to roll out more resort-style casinos to attract tourists from outside the province and boost gambling revenue by more than 15 per cent over the next three years, planning documents show.

The casinos will replace older models and mirror Richmond's glitzy River Rock Casino, which boasts a five-star hotel, conference centre, restaurants, and "theatre-style show lounge." {snip}

Solicitor General John Les said said two of the "replacement" casinos are already under construction in Burnaby and New Westminster, but the total number of casinos in the province will remain at 17.

Two of those are on the Island, one in View Royal and the other Nanaimo, but Les didn't say if they are on the list to be improved.

The new facilities "will be more attractive than the previous casinos, which were kind of old and dumpy," he said. "So they may well attract clientele such as we've seen at River Rock, for example, where people do travel from outside the province actually to visit those kinds of facilities."

But not all of River Rock's clientele has been welcome. Richmond RCMP have raised concerns that the casino led to a rise in gambling-related crime and allowed new organized crime groups move into the city. {snip}

NDP Leader Carole James, however, accused the government of expanding gambling, while ignoring its attendant problems.

"I think whether it's gambling addiction, whether it's safety issues for people in those casinos ... the government has done nothing to address them. I think it's irresponsible to look at expanding without addressing the concerns that are there now."

Les has admitted previously, and he reiterated yesterday, that government broke its 2001 election promise to stop the expansion of gambling. "But (there is) not increased locations of casinos or different forms. The existing casinos have been upgraded, and there have been more slot machines put into those locations."

In fact, the lottery corporation expects casino upgrades to help boost gambling revenue from $2.4 billion this year to nearly $2.8 billion by 2010. It also anticipates that online gambling will continue to pull in more money. Sales of online lottery products through its PlayNow website have nearly tripled since 2004 from $5 million to $13 million.

In addition, the service plan notes that more than 60 per cent of adult British Columbians participated in some form of gaming in 2006, and the Crown corporation hopes to build on that.

Still, Les said it's up to British Columbians whether they choose to gamble. "We're not hustling people into casinos," he said. "It's an optional thing."

Full story at:
Or: How to create a culture of corruption.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Opposition shouts down P.M. over 'base' attack

This is essentially what caused the uproar in Parliament today ...
Liberals shout down PM over 'base' attack
CBC News - February 21, 2007

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was shouted down with cries of "shame, shame" during question period Wednesday after he raised a media report that said a Liberal MP is the son-in-law of a man police allegedly interviewed in connection with the Air India bombing case.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion was asking the prime minister about judicial appointments, accusing him of stacking the committees with Conservatives and jeopardizing the independence of the judiciary.

Harper responded that the Liberals opposed the changes the Conservative government has made that give police officers a voice in the process.

Then Harper said he was "not surprised, given what I'm reading in the Vancouver Sun today when I read this is how the Liberal party makes decisions."

"The Vancouver Sun has learned that the father-in-law of the member of Parliament for Mississauga-Brampton South …"

At that point, the last two rows of Liberal benches erupted in shouts, banging on their desks and jeering, the CBC's Susan Bonner reported. "They were ready for this. They were primed and they were angry," Bonner said.

Navdeep Singh Bains, the Liberal MP Harper was referring to, sat with his head down.

House Speaker Peter Miliken tried to get the Liberals to stop.

Harper suggested he was raising the issue because the Liberals are jeopardizing the Air India investigation by opposing provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

"Even the Air India families say that the position [the Liberals] are now taking will jeopardize the police investigation into the Air India terrorism act."

Dion has said he is against extending those provisions that allow the hearings to take place.

The Vancouver Sun reported that Bains's father-in-law told the RCMP he had met a man who was later convicted of shooting a potential witness in the Air India trial. He also allegedly said he met with Ajaib Singh Bagri, who was later acquitted in the Air India bombing. The 1985 bombing killed 329 people.

The Vancouver Sun also reported that Bains's father-in-law is on the RCMP's potential list of witnesses at investigative hearings designed to advance the Air India criminal probe.

For the full CBC story go to:


Still having Blogger problems ... sorry! not my fault!!

I'm trying to work up enough courage to move out of Blogger and into Wordpress. Blogger promised that if everybody switched to Blogger Beta, all our URLs and text would be untouched (true) and that nothing would change except that all the functions would get better. Well, they lied.

Some bloggers have lost their web-sites completely.

Others are locked out (c'est moi), find their blog distorted or can't leave comments (me again).

Thank you for your patience ... and for politely turning your heads away while I go nuts. Much appreciated.

So here, I'll paste the comment I just tried to leave but the %#$#@&?? New Improved Blog wouldn't accept it:

Anybody watching Question Period in the House of Commons today?

It's not that Stephen Harper is my favourite prime minister, not by a long shot, but I was appalled at the way he was treated.

The Liberals were primed and ready for a comment regarding Mr Bains, M.P., and they began, right on cue, to bawl and roar like a pack of hoodlums, literally overwhelming the Prime Minister who -- after about a minute of sound-blasting -- gave up and the Speaker of the House signalled for the Bloc Quebecois to take the next question.

Harper would've done far better to have simply stated the case: he thought the Liberals had shifted their position on the anti-terrorist Bill; but he wanted to continue his "attack ads" campaign and went too far ... suggesting that the Liberals were trying to protect one of their own.

The Liberals, however, went waaaaay too far, and turned the House of Commons into a back alley brawl.

I'm not arguing the right and wrong of the issue itself.

What bothered me was the premeditated, planned use brute force to bully an M.P. into silence. Why?

The Speaker is there to rule any M.P. out of order when a statement crosses the line.

Today the Liberal Opposition used a primitive blunt instrument to briefly protect themselves -- a clear signal that we are dangerously close to a culture of corruption.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Paul Martin sought support of terrorist group

By Kim Bolan, Vancouver Sun, 20 February 2007

Paul Martin solicited the support of the terrorist International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) in his failed bid for the federal Liberal leadership in 1990, The Vancouver Sun has learned ... {snip}

At the time of Martin's Spring 1990 speech, the ISYF had already been identified as a terrorist group by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Four in the group had been convicted in B.C. of the attempted assassination of a visiting Indian politician. Other B.C. members had met with a young would-be assassin who shot newspaper publisher Tara Singh Hayer in 1988.

The Martin speech came 2 years after then-Conservative external affairs minister Joe Clark warned Canadian politicians to steer clear of the federation, the Babbar Kalsa, and the World Sikh Organization, because of terrorist links. The ISYF was banned in Canada in June 2003 by the Liberal government of Jean Chretien ...

See full story at:
which includes a YouTube video of ex-Prime Minister Martin making that speech.

Monday, February 19, 2007


April 1, former B.C. Finance Minister gets a new job

On 1 April 2007, Gary Collins the former B.C. Finance Minister will join Belkin Industries as their Senior Vice President.

Gary is "very excited about this opportunity" to work with "a very dynamic group of companies headquartered here in Vancouver with interests in fields as diverse as Rogers Sugar, CHIP REIT, environmental services, Merchant Banking and Investment Services, as well as holdings in Commercial and Residential Real Estate".

Collins, who has been described as B.C.'s worst Finance Minister, is best remembered for having chosen a Ministerial Aide who was later charged with bribery in the B.C. Rail Case.

Source: Politics OnLine




Announcing the Golden Gyroscope Awards!
By Kootcoot at House of Infamy

Well the time has come to announce the eagerly anticipated winner of the Golden Gyroscope for Spinning the Basi/Virk Trial the hardest in 2006. I have to admit when the amount of spin applied to this issue in the newpapers, on the TeeVee, online and even by the Attorney General of the Province is so great that we have to spend our time dealing with nausea from dizziness, it isn't easy to choose a winner. But then on December 27, once I had put bricks on the corners of the paper so it wouldn't spin, there was the headline in the Globe and Mail "THERE IS NOTHING TO THESE CHARGES."

Full story:


Sunday, February 11, 2007


OFF THE RAILS, CTV W-Five: With a flatland train on mountainous track, CN ran 144 cars where B.C.Rail ran 80 - 100 cars.

This was British Columbia's railway. We were promised it would never be sold. Now look.

Feb. 10 2007
Patti-Ann Finlay

Engineer Gord Rhodes has been a railroader for more than 30 years. He figures he's made the trip from Williams Lake to Squamish more than 2,000 times. Like most experienced railway faithful, he knows what makes a safe train and what doesn't.

"We've done that trip so many times, it's not funny. Up and down the mountain. Switching and coming home," Rhodes says.

On June 29, 2006, Rhodes and two colleagues -- Tommy Dodd and Don Faulkner -- took a CN train trip that would change their lives forever.

"The reality was that we weren't coming out of it. We weren't gonna live," says Rhodes as he ponders what went wrong with Engine 9606. "Nobody was saying anything. 'Cause this isn't supposed to happen," Rhodes adds.

Suddenly the train Rhodes and his team were on gained incredible speed and began to careen out of control.

The safe speed limit on this section of track is 15 miles per hour. Closing in on 50 miles per hour the locomotive is racing along the steep curve - and then jumped the tracks.

"Well the engine, when it hit the flicked me off like a bug. And I went airborne and I tumbled and rolled. I could hear all this crashing and booming," Rhodes tells W-FIVE.

The locomotive had crashed down the mountainside. Tommy Dodd and Don Faulkner were dead. Only Rhodes was alive.

"I thought we were all dead. I didn't even know how I survived. I don't know. I was horrified," says Rhodes who worked with Dodd and Faulkner for 14 years.

Hard to believe -- especially after Faulkner's persistent safety questions to CN management. Known for his attention to safety, Faulkner enjoyed the nickname of "Mr. Safety." "He was always into safety," says Karen Hunt, Faulkner's high-school sweetheart and common-law wife.

Faulkner complained to CN and politicians about canceling mandatory safety meetings and for putting what he believed were unsafe trains on tracks. "He felt the lack of CN caring for their employees," says Hunt.

"The day before the accident he was in the office with my daughter and said he was concerned about engines with no dynamic brakes on the heels. He was on the phone with someone and said, 'what has to happen to someone, [do] they have to be killed before they do something about it'," Hunt tells W-FIVE.

It turns out the locomotive wasn't equipped with a very important safety measure called dynamic brakes and that CN was running a flatland train along mountainous track.

"It's a unit that should never be used in the mountains, it's not designed for the type of work that [it] was being used for. It's a prairie engine," says Rhodes.

Even more troubling is the internal CN document that suggests the prairie engine was 'overdue for servicing' and that there were 'no [brake] shoes left.'

Rhodes and others believe dynamic brakes would have saved the lives of Tommy Dodd and Don Faulkner. "If that was a unit that had dynamic braking and it was working, we would not be talking today. And my two friends would still be alive," Rhodes tells W-FIVE.

CN's derailment record is disturbing. In 2005, CN had an astonishing 103 main-track derailments in communities across Canada. That's an average of one derailment every three-and-a-half days.

Forty-three CN cars went off the tracks at Lake Wabamun, Alberta, on August 3, 2005, spilling more than 700,000 litres of bunker oil and wood preservative into the pristine lake. The Alberta Government charged CN with "'failing to take all reasonable measures to remedy and confine a spill," for the Wabamun derailment.

Two days later, on August 5, 2005, another CN train derailed over the Cheakamus River, just outside Squamish, dumping more than 40,000 litres of caustic soda -- a highly corrosive chemical used by the pulp industry. The spill killed nearly half a million fish.

"What we saw were fish experiencing chemical burns....some of them were trying to almost jump out of the river. They were trying to avoid the burns," says Chessy Knight, an aquatic biologist and environmental coordinator for the Squamish district.

When BC Rail was running along this track, they were 80 to 100 cars in length. The CN train that derailed above the Cheakamus River had 144 cars. Longer trains mean bigger profits.

Long-time transportation consultant Greg Gormick says profit-seeking may be behind some of the CN derailments. "Cost cutting that's gone perhaps too far to satisfy investors," Gormick tells W-FIVE.

Cost cutting that is leading to safety problems -- at least that's what Rhodes thinks. "Every train going through this country right now, it's a dice roll with CN," he says.

W-FIVE wanted to talk to CN about their safety history. After weeks of negotiating an interview date, CN agreed to talk to us, on camera -- only to back out of the interview the day before. Instead, CN sent us a seven-page letter extolling their safety record and commitment to safety.

Railway insiders say CN is not the only one to blame, and that government must bear some responsibility for the spike in accidents. Changes to railway legislation have taken power away from government -- yielding more authority to railway companies to develop their own safety schemes. "This is about failed transportation policy," says Gormick.

In recent months, Ottawa appears to have taken a keen interest in the number and severity of derailments. First in November an inquiry was called to investigate rail accidents in B.C. Then in December Transport Canada announced plans for a full review of the Railway Safety Act.

But any review or inquiry may be redundant when the Government probably already has the information they need about CN and railway safety in Canada. A Transport Canada safety audit of CN's practices has been kept secret for some time.

The safety audit, ordered in August 2005, was promised to be made public by the Liberals. Completed last year, the safety audit findings have not been released by the Conservative government. Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon says that's because CN doesn't want it made public. "I would want it to be made public but I can't," Cannon tells W-FIVE.

Please see the full story with photos at:


That last sentence is a stinger, isn't it? CN doesn't want the safety audit made public. Who's running this country, anyway?

So, in general terms, how is our old railway operating these days? Not up to its old standard, apparently.

The Gold River "Record" says: B.C. Rail kept the fences in good shape, and when cattle losses occurred, the ranchers were informed and got paid for the animals because it is the company's duty to keep cattle off the railway tracks. Not so, since CN took over. CN has an outrageous accident record. Cattle killed on the railway tracks are simply buried. The owners are not informed. The fences are not kept in good repair, no compensation is paid for losses, and when the ranchers try to make repairs themselves, they are ordered off the land "which is now part of the American empire".

And in their October 10/05 edition, the Williams Lake Tribune provides another view of our former B.C. Rail: CN apparently believes that it has no legal obligation to divulge their emergency preparedness plan, if any, for hazardous material spills.

Regional fire chiefs are sending letters to the federal government over the transportation of hazardous materials and potential spills.

But Doug Kittle, dangerous materials inspector for Transport Canada, said as long as the railway is transporting goods within Canada, there is no law obligating the company to share their emergency plan.

He added the 12-hour response time, which fire chiefs from across the North have deemed an unacceptable timeline, is only a rough possibility for certain types of hazardous materials.

Smithers' B.C. Ministry of Environment emergency officer, Norm Fallows, said the timeline for a response on a hazardous material spill depends on the type of product. He said for some products the wait for help could be longer and for others shorter.

"We have some equipment in our trucks," Fallows said. "But not enough for a big spill."

Here's another question: if the trial of Basi, Virk, and Basi proves that the "sale" of B.C. Rail was flawed and compromised, how are we going to feel? Perhaps we'd like to re-negotiate that deal. Perhaps we'd like to know that British Columbia is once again being well served by its own B.C. Rail.
- BC Mary.



Organized crime in B.C.? Ha ha. Maybe not so laughable after all.

Soon after police raided the B.C. Legislature, the whole front page of Vancouver Sun was made up of 27 big questions, one of which was: "What, if anything, is the link between drugs, organized or commercial crime, to staff in the B.C. legislature? To the federal Liberal party?" [See my archives of 25/05/06 for all 27 questions].

Fast forward 3 years to The Globe and Mail article in which Gary Mason virtually laughed at the idea of organized crime in Victoria. Yes, ha ha. Very funny. And yet, people do wonder about that huge amount of cash from marijuana sales -- 1/4 of the B.C. economy -- where does all that money go?

Today's comment is an excerpt from Vancouver Province for 11 Feb. 07 an article titled "Police track B.C. pot expertise south of the border". - BC Mary.

... A study released by the Fraser Institute in 2006 pegged the retail value of marijuana grown in B.C. at $7 billion and estimated there are at least 17,500 grow-ops in the province.

Adam Otte, a DEA special agent, noted in Seattle District Court documents that the seven Vietnamese-American suspects arrested in Washington were seen at multiple grow-ops.

"I believe they were an organized crime group of marijuana growers who helped tend their associate's grows," Otte stated.

"It comes down to the business of huge profits," said Darryl Plecas, University College of the Fraser Valley criminology professor and author of the 2002 study Marihuana Operations in British Columbia.

"What's happening there (in Washington State) is characteristic of organized crime in general. They go wherever there's an opportunity," Plecas said.

Nor should it be surprising, says Julian Sher, award-winning author of The Road to Hell: How Biker Gangs Conquered Canada.

Sher points to an example of intelligence sharing in his book, where he documents how a Hells Angel acquired a recipe for the drug speed in a California jail, then promptly exported that recipe to colleagues in Australia for production.

"Technology, like drugs and money, flows very quickly in the organized crime world," said Sher. "It stands to reason that B.C., where the grow-ops are the biggest cash crop, that technology flows east and south."

Vancouver Province

Also "Oppal says there are 52 organized criminal groups operating in B.C." [Ref. Archives of this blog dated 5/15/2006]


The 28th question should be: what effect does $7 Billion a year in free-floating cash have upon the world we live in? Does it really have no effect whatever? If bushels of cash are available to people willing to flaunt the law (i.e., crooks), doesn't that cause changes? And no, this question isn't about marijuana itself; it's about a product which is bought and sold outside normal controls, providing a huge cash dispensary to citizens willing to compromise their reputations. How safe is that?
- BC Mary

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Crown's star witness was guest at official state luncheons for visiting heads of state

It's Tuesday, and Bill Tieleman writes: - in this week's 24 hours column I uncover that the crown's key witness in the upcoming David Basi-Bob Virk breach of trust trial - Erik Bornmann - was a guest at two head of state official luncheons in September 2005, for Chinese President Hu Jintao and Mexican President Vicente Fox!

Why was Bornmann, who police allege provided benefits to Basi and Virk in exchange for confidential government information on the $1 billion BC Rail deal in 2003, in attendance - nobody in the Liberal Party of Canada seems to know! See the column below.

From: 24 Hours
Tuesday February 6, 2007


Erik Bornmann, the crown's key witness against ex-provincial government aides David Basi and Bob Virk in their bribery trial, was a guest at official Canadian state luncheons in Vancouver for Chinese President Hu Jiantao and Mexican President Vicente Fox in September 2005, 24 hours has learned. ... snip ,,,

Bornmann was a key organizer in B.C. for Martin's Liberal leadership campaign and a former LPC B.C. executive member.

Bornmann attended the luncheon for Chinese President Jintao on Sept 17, 2005 and Mexican President Fox on Sept 30, 2005. Both were held at the Westin Bayshore.

There also remain unanswered questions about Jamie Elmhirst, who resigned last month as LPC B.C. president but was subpoenaed to testify in the Basi-Virk case on Oct. 4, 2006.

Elmhirst was business partners in Pilothouse with Bornmann and Brian Kieran, who is also scheduled to testify for the crown against Basi, Virk in the April 2 trial.... snip ....

Mark Marissen, who was federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's leadership campaign manager and now co-chairs the Liberal Party national election campaign team, said in an e-mail to 24 hours that he did not know about Elmhirst's subpoena to testify.

"I was first aware of it from your story in 24 hours," Marissen wrote. In response to a question whether he had at any point discussed the subpoena with Elmhirst, Marissen replied that: "Given that this is a matter before the courts, I did not feel it was appropriate to ask him about any details associated with his subpoena."

Full story at Bill's web-site:

Care to comment: or go to: have your say. Or E-mail:

Bill Tieleman West Star Communications Tel 604-844-7827 Hear Bill Tieleman on the Bill Good Show every Monday at 10 a.m. on CKNW AM 980 or online at


Thanks again, Bill. Many happy returns of your big birthday!


Saturday, February 03, 2007


"Gary Collins was one of B.C.'s most disastrous finance ministers, leaving an accumulated deficit of nearly $6 billion."

The 31 January 2007 edition of The illuminates some of the interlocking duties of key appointees of the government. Of special interest to readers of The Legislature Raids is the following:

In December 2004, B.C. Liberal finance minister Gary Collins surprised many by quitting politics. Collins was one B.C.'s most disastrous finance ministers -- under his watch, and largely because of his policies, the province's accumulated deficit skyrocketed in just four years from a few hundred million dollars to nearly $6 billion -- and his private-sector experience consisted of working in a restaurant and being a flight instructor.

Still, Purchase, Johnstone and other directors at Norske Skog Canada evidently thought that Collins would be a valuable addition to their company. In April 2005, six months after he quit politics, Collins was appointed to Norske Skog Canada's board of directors. (The company later changed its name to Catalyst Paper Corporation.)

As a corporate director, Collins is paid a retainer of $25,000 per year, with another $1,500 for each board meeting attended. He also gets $6,000 annually as a member of two board committees, plus $1,200 for every committee meeting he attends. In total, his annual Norske Skog Canada-Catalyst Paper compensation must be in the range of $40,000-$50,000.

(Collins and other company directors may take part of their salary in the company's "Deferred Share Units" rather than cash. The value of those units has declined significantly in recent years, however, and proved a bargain for Third Avenue Management, a New York investment firm, which in recent months has acquired a sizeable equity position in Catalyst.)

Susan Yurkovich, one of Collins's dearest political pals, was also an early government appointee to the Vancouver Coastal board alongside Purchase and Johnstone. Yurkovich worked as a staffer with Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government in the early 1990s before joining Canfor Corp., where she worked closely with CEO David Emerson.

Emerson and Yurkovich both left the forest company after its 2004 merger with Slocan Forest Products. Emerson won election to the House of Commons as a Liberal in Vancouver-Kingsway in 2004, and was re-elected with that party in 2006 (defecting days later to Stephen Harper's Conservative government). Yurkovich was a senior strategist with Campbell's B.C. Liberals prior to and during the 2005 general election.

From: "Cosy Business Ties Exposed by Health Budget Turmoil." By Will McMartin. The Tyee, 31 January 2007.
Full story at:

Thursday, February 01, 2007


John Reynolds goes a bit too doggone far ...

I try to be a gentle, wise citizen, a seeker of truth and a friend to all. But something snapped this morning when I read Bill Tieleman reporting on John Reynolds' holier-than-thou lecture to the Liberal Party of Canada. In his 24-Hours column, Bill wrote:

Senior Conservative John Reynolds slams federal Liberal Party over BC President Jamie Elmhirst staying in office after being subpoenaed in Basi-Virk

Senior Tory slams Grits over Elmhirst
31 January 2007

Senior federal Conservative John Reynolds is criticizing the federal Liberal Party for the "embarrassing" failure to remove its B.C. branch president after he was subpoenaed to testify in the breach of trust case against former provincial government aides David Basi and Bob Virk.

Reynolds, the former Member of Parliament for West-Vancouver Sunshine Coast, said Tuesday that lobbyist Jamie Elmhirst should not have continued as Liberal Party of Canada B.C. president after he was subpoenaed on Oct. 4, 2006.

24 hours disclosed Monday that Elmhirst was under subpoena for over three months before he quit his party position on January 15, 2007.

"It's embarrassing for their party. A person in that situation should step aside - there's no question about it," Reynolds told 24 hours. "You always have to do what's best for your party." [Talk about Greenhouse Gas Emissions ... that concentration of pure hypocrisy is a health threat to crops, wildlife, and unborn children. - BC Mary]

"If nothing else, you don't need the president of your party as a witness," said Reynolds, who co-chaired the national Conservative 2006 election campaign.

Google the name of John Reynolds + Rakesh Saxena. You get 64,100 of the most amazing hits ever: Rakesh Saxena and the Spiderweb of Crooks ... and Politicians! Or "The Politician and the Fugitive"! Over sixty-four thousand entries!!

I'm not defending BCLiberals. But for a former leader of the CCRAP Alliance Party, John Reynolds, to lecture anybody about what's the right thing to do ... well, that stretched credulity just a bit too far.

Google turned up things such as: "According to Mr. Saxena, another of his disastrous penny stock promotions, WaveTech Networks, also featured Mr. Rutledge and Toronto-based past securities violator Harvey Rubenstein. Last August, Stockwatch revealed that one of Canada's top federal opposition politicians, John Reynolds, a former Howe Street promoter himself, faced a $484,000 debit suit from Vancouver brokerage Global Securities stemming from an unpaid block of WaveTech shares, and the fugitive Mr. Saxena was trying to help Mr. Reynolds out of this debit pickle.

Vancouver Sun reporter David Baines subsequently detailed the case further in a front-page feature entitled, "The Politician and the Fugitive." While such a stigma might have hurt a lesser fellow, Mr. Reynolds went to become interim leader of the Canadian Alliance party, moving in to the residence of Canada's leader of the opposition."

And this, by Stockwatch Business Reporter:

Canada's resident stock personality, Rakesh Saxena, has begun yet another phase of his fight to remain in Canada -- or, more specifically, avoid Thailand. On Monday, Jan. 30, the amiable stock tout appeared before the British Columbia Court of Appeal to protest a November, 2003, order by then-justice minister Martin Cauchon that Mr. Saxena return to Thailand. If he does return, the 53-year-old fugitive banker will be tried on allegations that he contributed to the 1996 collapse of the Bangkok Bank of Commerce.

Mr. Saxena, formerly a shareholder of VSE-listed Asean Holdings Inc., was the bank's treasury adviser at the time of its collapse. On June 5, 1996, the Thai government accused Mr. Saxena, the bank's then-president and chairman Krirk-kiat Jalichandra, and Adnan Khashoggi, another VSE player, of defrauding the bank of a total of $2.2-billion (U.S.). Mr. Saxena specifically stands accused of using his position as an employee to fraudulently borrow 1.6 million baht (about $88-million) to help acquire three telecommunications companies.

The Thai government said that Mr. Saxena did not use the money for its intended purpose. Mr. Saxena's former employees say he used some of this money to repay personal debts, with some of the rest deposited in his Swiss bank accounts; all told, Mr. Saxena's companies only repaid 650 million baht.

By the time the bank collapsed, Mr. Saxena had left Thailand, eventually showing up in Whistler, B.C., where the RCMP, at the Thai government's behest, arrested him on July 7, 1996. The RCMP released Mr. Saxena on bail, but revoked the bail in January, 1998, after he allegedly threatened a witness and tried to get a fake passport.

Several months after his bail was revoked, Mr. Saxena managed to convince judge Wally Oppal (then a B.C. Supreme Court judge, now B.C.'s attorney-general) to allow him to remain under house arrest in a False Creek condominium. Mr. Saxena was allowed to remain under guard by security hired at his own expense. The RCMP seemed to be satisfied with a $10,000-per-week in-house camera security system tracking his moves.

After an extradition hearing that sputtered along for four years, Judge Frank Maczko found on Sept. 15, 2000, that Mr. Saxena could be convicted of fraud under Thai law. After this judgment, the decision to extradite fell into Mr. Cauchon's hands; Mr. Cauchon decided to surrender Mr. Saxena to Thailand on Nov. 18, 2003.

It's like a James Bond novel, the newspaper accounts of Rakesh Saxena goes back over the Oppal decision:

Aug 01, 1999
THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED Police officers bristled visibly in the heavily guarded Vancouver court when the controversial ruling was handed down. Thousands of kilometers away in Bangkok, their counterparts in the Royal Thai Police would express outrage and disbelief.

Justice Wally Oppal of the British Columbia Supreme Court had just allowed Thailand's most wanted man, Rakesh Saxena, to continue fighting extradition to Bangkok from the comfort of his luxury Vancouver condominium - watched by his own guards. Saxena's exuberant lawyer Russ Chamberlain turned to his India-born client and cautioned: "Don't smile too much. There will be no dancing ladies, but there will be mother's cooking."

Saxena, clad in a navy golf shirt, grinned in the prisoner's box surrounded on three sides by bullet-proof glass and scrutinized by sheriffs. He was adamant he would not voluntarily return to Thailand. "I'm afraid with good reason that I will be killed extra-judicially should I set foot in Thailand," he told the court.

The June 24 ruling, the first of its kind in Canada, overturned a February decision to revoke Saxena's bail because he was a flight risk. At the time, Saxena languished in the spartan segregation unit of the city's remand center. Months of incarceration had rendered the stocky, hard-drinking, gregarious braggart into a surly, sober, 1.6-meter lightweight. "Someone should try living like this," Saxena complained. He had only a cot and a small coffee table in his cell. "To turn on the lights you have to call for the guard who may or may not be there," he said. He wasn't given even a pencil, pen or pad.

Today Saxena lives in Suite 206-1600 Hornby Street, his spacious $500,000 condo in Yacht Harbour Pointe, overlooking expensive pleasure craft moored in False Creek. To keep him from wandering, his lawyer's firm has hired Intercon Security at $27,000 a month.