Thursday, March 29, 2007

 

B.C. Opposition speaks up: "Come clean on B.C. Rail" they say. "Call a Public Inquiry! and answer these 70 questions!!"

.

MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Release
March 29, 2007

NDP DEMANDS ANSWERS ON SALE OF B.C. RAIL

VICTORIA–In an effort to get the B.C. Liberal government to come clean on the problematic circumstances surrounding the sale of B.C. Rail, New Democrat MLA Leonard Krog is demanding that the Attorney General provide answers to a series of 70 questions.

“It has become increasingly clear that the Campbell Liberals will do whatever they can to avoid being held accountable for what might have happened during the sale of B.C. Rail“, said Krog, the New Democrat Critic for the Attorney General. “British Columbians deserve answers to these questions.”

Under the rules of the B.C. Legislative Assembly, an MLA can submit written questions for any government Minister. These questions are in addition to those raised during oral question period.

“Several years after the Campbell Liberals broke their promise not to sell B.C. Rail, the people of British Columbia are still waiting to know what went on during those negotiations,” said Krog, the MLA for Nanaimo.

“For instance, the Attorney General has refused to answer our questions about whether his government will commit to hold a public inquiry into the sell-off of B.C. Rail as soon as the criminal proceedings conclude so that B.C. taxpayers can finally get the answers they deserve,” continued Krog. “That is completely unacceptable.”

In April, the B.C. Supreme Court will begin hearing the case for three former Liberal political staff facing charges of fraud, influence peddling, and money laundering as a result of police investigations that culminated in the December 2003 raid of the Legislature.

-- 30 --

The questions submitted are available upon request or from the Legislature website at : http://www.leg.bc.ca/38th3rd/votes/v070328.htm

Media Contact: Sara Goldvine (250)208-3560



NOTICE OF QUESTIONS

Monday, April 16 [Comment: On this date, a 3-week hearing on disclosure begins in B.C. Supreme Court in the matter of HMTQ vs Basi, Virk, Basi. - BC Mary]

1 Mr. Krog to ask the Hon. Attorney General the following questions pertaining to the BC Rail deal:--
1. Will the government hold a public inquiry into the sell-off of BC Rail as soon as the criminal proceedings conclude so that B.C. taxpayers can finally get the answers they deserve?
2. When did the government first learn that the BC Rail deal was the target of an in-depth RCMP investigation?
3. When will the government release all documents -- including documents which may not be directly linked to the charges -- that relate to government policies or decisions regarding BC Rail?
4. Has the investigation into the sale of BC Rail uncovered evidence that other government policies or decisions may have been illegally or inappropriately affected? If yes, will the government release all such documents -- including documents which may not be directly related to the charges?
5. Did the BC Rail Steering Committee discuss the potential for the BC Rail deal to collapse if only one bidder remained in the bidding process?
6. Will the government release all minutes for meetings of the BC Rail Steering Committee?
7. Will the government release all documents produced for the BC Rail Steering Committee?
8. Did members of the Steering Committee or other members of the government caucus meet with or communicate with any of the proponents or their representatives during the process to sell BC Rail?
9. Did the Premier or any of his staff meet with or communicate with any of the proponents or their representatives during the process to sell BC Rail?
10. Can the government explain why then-Solicitor General Rich Coleman briefed the Premier before the search warrants were executed?
11. Can the government explain why then-Solicitor General Rich Coleman briefed the Premier's Chief of Staff Martyn Brown immediately after the warrants were executed and before alerting the public?
12. Why was Martyn Brown given the go-ahead to fire Dave Basi immediately, prior to any charges being laid?
13. How can the government defend the propriety of the Solicitor General's actions against the charge that in briefing the Premier and his top political staffer, this government put its political interests ahead of the public interest?
14. Why was provincial government staff allowed to organize for the federal Liberals in the Legislature using taxpayer resources?
15. What steps did the Premier take to ensure that the BC Liberal Party did not benefit from illegal activities by staff?
16. Will the government release the tapes and/or transcripts of phone conversations between the Premier and government ministers that were gathered during the criminal investigation into the sale of BC Rail?
17. Given the government's own forecasts for significant coal mining activity, why were projections based on coal export growth deliberately left out of revenue calculations for the BC Rail line?
18. Did the government consider canceling the sale of the BC Rail freight division?
19. Will the government release any and all correspondence with the RCMP and BC Rail about rescinding the sale of the BC Rail freight division?
20. If the government considered canceling the sale of the BC Rail freight division, was compensation considered for any proponents?
21. What discussions took place concerning the issue of whether CN Rail had paid too much or too little for the BC Rail freight division?
22. What was the estimated value of former BC Rail assets in 2003, before they were sold? What is the estimated value of those former BC Rails assets now?
23. Did CP Rail express concerns about the clear breach of fairness in the process to sell BC Rail prior to their letter of Nov. 21, 2003?
24. Did the government -- including any and all government ministers, the BC Rail steering committee, the government caucus and/or its advisors or technical specialists -- ever discuss the consequences of OmniTRAX dropping out of the bidding process prior to or following the withdrawal of CP Rail?
25. Did the government consider the potential consequences of a small number of proponents or a single proponent during the sale of BC Rail for its goal of "maximizing value to the province"?
26. Did the government consider the potential negative political ramifications of a small number of proponents or a single proponent during the sale of BC Rail?
27. What was discussed at the Dec. 12, 2003, meeting held at Vancouver restaurant Villa del Lupo between the Minister of Finance and senior executives from OmniTRAX, the second-place finisher in the bidding process for the government-owned BC Rail?
28. Will the government ensure that tapes and transcripts resulting from the surveillance of the Minister of Finance's meeting with OmniTRAX officials are made public?
29. Did the Minister of Finance meet with other proponents during the transaction process?
30. Was it the Minister of Finance who ordered confidential government information to be leaked to a lobby firm representing OmniTRAX?
31. If it was not the Minister of Finance who ordered confidential government information to be leaked to a lobby firm representing OmniTRAX, was the Premier's Office or any other government official responsible for this order?
32. Will the government release the "meeting minutes, presentations and other documents" referred to in the Charles River Associates report on the BC Rail bidding process?
33. Did Charles River Associates review meetings, conversations or communications outside the official process -- particularly those including ministers and ministerial aides -- in their analysis of the fairness of the BC Rail transaction process?
34. Will the government release all documents including emails, reports, interview transcripts relating to the two information leaks referenced in the Charles River Associates report?
35. Can the government provide concrete evidence for their claim that the information leaks referenced in the Charles River Associates report did not materially affect the sale of BC Rail?
36. Will the government provide the full list of files and issues in the purview of or involving David Basi, Aneal Basi and Bob Virk between June 2001 and December 2003?
37. Did the government order an internal investigation into every file that Mr. Basi touched while he worked as a top political aide to the Minister of Finance -- and if not, why not?
38. Did the government order an internal investigation into every file that Mr. Virk touched while he worked as a top political aide to the Minister of Transportation -- and if not, why not?
39. Will the government provide an explanation as to why Dave Basi was fired immediately -- prior to any charges -- while Bob Virk was only suspended?
40. Can the government provide assurances and evidence of the statement made by the then-Finance Minister in December 2003 that Dave Basi "was not involved in the budget process, never has been" and "was not involved in the drafting of legislation or policy development."
41. Will the government conduct a review of every decision made to remove land from the ALR while Mr. Basi worked in the Campbell administration?
42. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities and files that involved Dave Basi and/or Bob Virk and the principals and staff of Pilothouse Public Affairs?
43. Is the government aware of any other potential or ongoing investigations that involve Basi, Virk, or Pilothouse and any other minister, ministry or public body -- and if so, what are they?
44. Will the government provide a full enumeration of the roles played in this investigation -- or any other related investigation -- by Mark Marissen, husband of then Deputy Premier Christy Clark, and Bruce Clark, the brother of the then-Deputy Premier?
45. What materials did the Special Prosecutor withhold from the defence that were the subject of the February 27, 2007 defence application?
46. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities associated with Pilothouse Public Affairs?
47. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities associated with K&E Public Affairs?
48. Why did the government allow Erik Bornman of Pilothouse Public Affairs to continue his lobbying activities after he had informed Bill Berardino that he had bribed Dave Basi?
49. Why did the government allow Brian Kieran of Pilothouse Public Affairs to continue his lobbying activities after he had informed the RCMP that he had tried to bribe Dave Basi?
50. Can the government assure British Columbians that lobbyists Erik Bornman and Brian Kieran no longer have access to senior government staff?
51. Why did the BC Liberal Party continue to accept money in 2004 from lobbyists named in the original warrants, long after the raids on the Legislature?
52. Why won't the BC Liberal government allow an all-party review of the Lobbyists Registration Act in order to have greater accountability over who is influencing government and how?
53. When did the Attorney General and Premier first become aware that the lead RCMP inspector was the brother-in-law of Kelly Reichart, Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party?
54. How did Kelly Reichert learn that Erik Bornman had been granted immunity in exchange for providing information about David Basi and Bob Virk?
55. When did the Attorney General and Premier first become aware that information related to the investigation was leaked to Kelly Reichart and was subsequently leaked by Mr. Reichart to principals in the investigation?
56. Does the Attorney General agree that the actions of Mr. Reichart risked compromising the investigation?
57. Why does Mr. Reichart continue to serve as the Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party?
58. Given that one of the government's objectives for the BC Rail transaction was "ensuring integrated North American access to preferred markets and carriers for interline rail shipments", why would the government attempt to sell the Roberts Bank Spur line separately, following the withdrawal of CP Rail?
59. Is it true that in November 2003, Dave Basi advised OmniTRAX that the then-Minister of Finance had authorized a consolation prize for OmniTRAX in exchange for that company staying in the bidding process?
60. Was this consolation prize the BC Rail spur line?
61. How much was the consolation prize valued at?
62. Was OmniTRAX offered any Delta ALR lands for expansion of the port as part of this consolation prize?
63. If it were not for the alleged criminal actions of high-ranking aides, would the government have proceeded with the sale of the BC Rail spur line?
64. Does $900,000 represent the total cost to taxpayers of cancelling the sale of the spur line, or did the final tab come in even higher than that? What was the final tab?
65. What was the estimated value of the spur line in 2004, when the sale was put on hold?
66. What was the estimated value of the spur line when the sale was totally cancelled in February 2006?
67. What is the estimated value of the spur line now?
68. Why won't the government exercise its rights under article 10.2 of the Revitalization Agreement to inspect all of CN's maintenance records for the former BC Rail line?
69. When will the government investigate the rash of tragic derailments since 2004 in order to shed light on this safety scandal?
70. Why has the government refused to provide evidence for its claim that the government discussed safety and maintenance with the proponents during the negotiations to sell BC Rail?
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Thanks to Bill Tieleman for this. http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/

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Comments:
Have a close look at question number 17 Mary. There must be some public information - extrapolated from the mining industry if nothing else - that would provide an indication about how big a FIRE SALE the CN acquisition of BC Rail actually was.

It's clear what the Government is going to answer these questions with - i.e. SILENCE - so someone else is going to have to hold their feet to the fire.

Have you seen any indication that anyone (other than Bill Tieleman) has even taken notice of this?
GW
 
GW, I recall discussions about the much-increased coal export expectations -- even in CanWest media -- around the time of the "sale".

What rattles my brain is why it took the B.C. Opposition so doggone long to ask!

Let's watch CanWest now, to see if there's any mention whatsoever of Krog's SEVENTY QUESTIONS.

Do you think I should e.mail Vaughn?
.
 
So, it shouldn't be too difficult to run a pro forma calculation given those projections to see if there was a business case for the price CN paid in what was, in reality, a single-tender offering, should it?

Not hard to understand why there has always been a certain reluctance to answer questions like the ones Mr. Krog tabled yesterday.
GW

There are a few questions at the end too that probably can't be ducked with the usual excuse.

I wonder who might be interested in doing that? Gary Mason or Vaughn Palmer?

I think they both read your blog regularly, don't you?
 
Mary, did you see this in the Globe and Mail this morning "Mounties allege fraud in pension management
Commons public accounts committee could summon senior RCMP executives to testify at emergency meeting". Corrupution, scandal, coverup in the most senior ranks of the rcmp. Now take a closer look at debruyckere, lead investigator in the bc rail case and his close connections to the bc liberals. This is a scandal ready to explode!
 
These are very disturbing developments. When decent rcmp officers are afraid to step forward because they will be disciplined that tells you something. I wonder if debruyckere was told to step away from more ethical officers who were clearly concerned about his connections to the bc liberal party.

Independent investigator to probe RCMP scandal
29/03/2007 2:43:42 PM
CTV News
___________________________________

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day will appoint an independent investigator to look into the RCMP pension scandal, but has stopped short of calling a full judicial inquiry.
Day says an investigation into allegations of abuse of the RCMP pension and insurance plans, and an alleged cover-up of the internal investigation, will result in a public report within eight to 12 weeks.
Day says a judicial inquiry would take too long.
"We want answers now, we want answers immediately," Day told reporters at a short press conference Thursday.
"I'm seriously concerned with the information that was presented yesterday at the public accounts committee,'' Day said.
Later in question period, Liberal and NDP MPs continued to urge a judicial inquiry. Day responded that if the investigator meets resistance in his investigation, he will given further powers, "including up to a full public inquiry."
On Wednesday, RCMP personnel stunned the Commons public accounts committee by alleging that senior RCMP management had tried to block their investigation into the possible misuse of the police force's group insurance and pension funds.
During their testimony, current and former officers pointed the finger at former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, among others, for what they called an obstruction of their investigation.
Serving and retired RCMP officers have been probing allegations of possible misuse of millions of dollars in members' insurance and pension funds, following a scathing report from the auditor general. There have been no criminal charges so far and very few senior RCMP people have been affected.
On Wednesday, some of the investigating officers alleged that Zaccardelli and others have gone so far as to remove some who were asking uncomfortable questions.
"While trying to expose these wrongdoings, which were both criminal and code of conduct violations, I had face to face meetings and complaints up to and including Commissioner Zaccardelli," alleged Ron Lewis, a retired RCMP staff sergeant.
"I was met with inaction delays, roadblocks, obstruction and lies. The person who orchestrated most of this cover-up was Commissioner Zaccardelli."
RCMP Chief Supt. Fraser MacAulay added: "For the past few years, the RCMP has had a small group of managers who, through their actions and inactions, are responsible for serious breeches in our core values, the RCMP code of conduct and even the Criminal Code."
In blaming the leadership, Lewis alleged, "a culture was created by several senior executives where it was a danger for employees to report wrongdoings."
Hours after the hearing, the deputy commissioner in charge of human resources, Barb George, stepped down. CTV's Graham Richardson reports she will move to another job within the force.
Conservative MP and committee member John Williams said he found the accusations stunning.
"The orders from the top seem to be, 'Stay quiet, don't say a word. We're the RCMP; we have to be clean or look like we're clean' -- and they're not clean," he said to CTV News.
Williams said the public accounts committee plans to call Zaccardelli to testify before them within a week.
CTV News tried to reach Zaccardelli for comment but was unsuccessful.
Zaccardelli resigned as RCMP commissioner in December after delivering contradictory testimony to another Commons committee about the Maher Arar affair.
Auditor General's report
The allegations stem from a matter already investigated by the Auditor General's office. However, the officers who testified Wednesday said the auditor's timeframe covered only one year, but the problems were spread over several years.
In her November 2006 report, Auditor General Sheila Fraser wrote about fraud and abuse allegations in the management of the RCMP's pension and insurance plans, stemming from 2003.
"In June 2005, the Ottawa Police Service announced that its 15-month investigation had found abuses of the pension and insurance plans, nepotism, wasteful spending, and override of controls by management," the report said.
"Significant unnecessary or wasteful expenditures resulted, including money spent for work of little value. The Crown counsel advised that there was 'no reasonable prospect of conviction on criminal charges'. However, two senior officials of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) resigned, and the RCMP considered disciplinary action against others," the report said.
At the time of that audit, the pension fund had a value of $12.4 billion. The insurance plan had about $30 million on deposit, it said.
Among the report's findings:
- The NCPC (National Compensation Policy Centre) Director established consulting contracts valued at over $20 million, overriding controls to avoid competitions for the contracts. These contracts resulted in some work of questionable value being performed, and excessive fees for administrative services of little or no value being charged to the pension plan.
- About $3.4 million in improper expenses were charged to the plan
- "An estimated $1.3 million was charged to the pension and insurance plans to pay for commissions or products that provided little or no value, and for excessive payments to employees' friends and family members hired as temporary staff." About $270,000 of that had been repaid.
- The RCMP persuaded the insurance carrier to subcontract work to a second firm to administer insurance plans on behalf of the RCMP. As a result, there was no competition for a $4.6 million contract.
The RCMP found there were grounds to proceed with disciplinary proceedings against four of its members and civilian employees, but didn't do so because too much time had elapsed, the report said.
"The former Director of NCPC told us that, to his knowledge, RCMP staffing and contracting policies and practices were followed," the report said.
With a report from CTV's Graham Richardson in Ottawa
 
There is just too much dirt on the horsemen for this little lah de dah inquiry into pension issues to address.

The problem is that no one is asking difficult questions and the stockboy just skitters away like a water bug on his jet ski.

Why is Bill Tieleman the only journalist with any jam in this province?
 
I think when it comes to questioning the RCMP in this province no one and I mean no one has done more than Gary Mason. The stuff he has done on the shooting deaths of Ian Bush and Kevin St. Arnaud has been amazing. He has consistently called for more civilian oversight. No wonder Mason is so skeptical of the job the RCMP has done in the Basi/ Virk investigation.
Apparently, the RCMP refuse to talk to Mason now. That's what someone said on the radio.
 
Oh I don't know - Mason pretty much ruined his reputation with me when he wrote that Christmas gift column for Basi and Virk in December. Implying that the fact Constable Cowan had bought a house from Basi - it was actually his Mom's house - and that Basi was practically indigent when I've since leared he's doing very well - had anything to do with this case was about all I want to hear from the former sports writer.

Not to mention the tear-jerker rountine about the Basi family.

We need some real journalists - a Stevie Cameron [someone else who has a few stories to tell about the RCMP] or a Juliet O'Neil on this case, my view.

I think Mason is closer to Don Cherry than he is to an investigative journalist.
GW
 
GW, come on, take it easy on Grapes!
 
Sent: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 4:46 PM
Subject: That $500,000..
_____________________________

The Auditor General deals with that in his report, saying it relates to transit times.

“CN has met or exceeded the benchmarks for three-of-the-five rate zones. Where CN has failed to achieve the benchmark times it has remitted penalty payments as required by the Consent Agreement. The amount remitted as at February 28, 2007 was over half a million dollars. This has been placed in a trust fund and will be used to improve reliability and transit times on the railway line through upgrades to the railway line.”

I didn’t see Mr. Falcon’s remarks. However, if he was suggesting that the government has been tough with CN, I would say the Auditor General indicates otherwise. The money’s in a trust account and it appears CN will spend it to upgrade its own operation.

Mark Hume, National Correspondent
The Globe and Mail,Vancouver Bureau

From:DL
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2007 5:57 PM
To: Hume, Mark
Subject:

If CN is doing a great job or even a adequate job why has the provincial government fined them 500,000 so far for their performance? I didn't make it up, the Transport minister Falcon said it right there on TV
Some body is wrong on this deal somewhere
dl
Victoria, BC
 
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