Monday, April 30, 2007

 

News commentary - 30 April, 1 May

There is nothing in today's Vancouver Sun -- British Columbia's largest daily newspaper -- about developments in Vancouver Supreme Court yesterday on Her Majesty the Queen vs. the three former B.C. government employees. Nothing. Not a word. This too is NEWS.

We understand that last Friday, Crown Counsel requested a publication ban. Hello? The prosecution wants silence? And the defence wants the public to know? This is disturbing NEWS also not published in the big daily newspapers.

Following is what little we could find ...
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CORRUPTION PROBE

Collins demands Crown release surveillance material
The Globe and Mail - May 1, 2007
MARK HUME

VANCOUVER -- Former finance minister Gary Collins yesterday called on the Crown to release any police surveillance material it has of him from a 2003 meeting with U.S. business executives concerning the government sale of BC Rail. {Snip} ...

He said it was hard to believe the RCMP's specially trained surveillance team couldn't get recordings of the meeting when it appears to have had undercover officers a few steps from Mr. Collins's table.

Mr. McCullough said another gap in disclosure was revealed to him on Sunday when John Preissell, former president of the United Auto and Collision Association, called to advise him about a 2003 phone call concerning Mr. Collins.

Mr. Preissell, who became the first witness in the corruption trial when Mr. McCullough suddenly called him to the stand, testified that in 2003, his association was in conflict with ICBC, the Crown-owned Insurance Corporation of B.C.

He said his association had been using the services of Pilothouse Public Affairs Group, a lobbying firm in Victoria that also worked for OmniTRAX at that time.

Mr. Preissell said Brian Kieran, a Pilothouse director, called to warn him not to launch a media campaign against Mr. Collins.

"The bottom line was he threatened me repeatedly for me not to go to the media and embarrass the Finance Minister," Mr. Preissell said. "I was actually afraid."

Mr. Preissell said he subsequently complained to the police about the call.

Mr. McCullough said that complaint should have generated police reports, but only a few "cryptic" notes were provided through disclosure.

"We would like to know where this material is," Mr. McCullough said.

Outside court, Mr. Roberts said Mr. Collins "has no recollection of Mr. Preissell ... and if Mr. Kieran contacted Mr. Preissell, it was at Mr. Kieran's initiation and not at the behest of Mr. Collins."

Pretrial applications are expected to continue for several weeks in the case, which is set to run through the summer and into the fall.

Full story: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070501.BCBASI01/TPStory/TPNational/BritishColumbia/
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DEFENCE RAPS ACCESS TO EVIDENCE
Canadian Press (Vancouver Province)
Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2007

It's like "pulling teeth" to get access to evidence from a special prosecutor probing the criminal case stemming from a raid on the B.C. legislature, a defence lawyer complained yesterday.

Kevin McCollough told the judge hearing the case that the defence discovered on its own both an alleged threat with a connection to a government minister and that RCMP had made video and audio surveillance tapes of a key restaurant meeting involving former finance minister Gary Collins.

"It isn't an obligation for us to provide all the needles in the haystack," McCollough told Justice Elizabeth Bennett as he laid out a long list of material that wasn't disclosed to defence lawyers by the special prosecutor's office.

"The reasonable inference is the special prosecutor didn't appreciate the relevance of the documents," he said.

"Or the RCMP are simply telling him not to [disclose evidence.]" McCollough also alleged that the RCMP were working closely with the provincial Liberal government because police Insp. Kevin Debruyckere was briefing his own brother-in-law, Kelly Reichert, on the case.

Reichert is the B.C. Liberal Party's executive director.

"That reeks of the RCMP and the Liberal government having some sort of quid pro quo, some sort of relationship," he alleged. {Snip} ...

http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=ba92d486-f3ad-47ed-a583-c3f06e35999c

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SHOULD THE JUDGE THROW OUT THE BASI'S-VIRK CASE AND REPRIMAND RCMP FOR APPARENT BUNGLING AND RACISM?

By RATTAN MALL
Voice OnLine - 30 April 2007

What a SHAMEFUL picture is emerging of the RCMP investigation in the notorious December 28, 2003 Raid on the Legislature case involving Dave Basi, then-assistant to then-finance minister Gary Collins, Bob Virk, then-assistant to then-transport minister Judith Reid and Aneal Basi, who was a government communications officer at the time and who was Dave Basi's cousin. The charges of breach of trust, fraud and gaining benefits involve the B.C. Rail sale to CN Rail.

Last week we reported that then-RCMP Sgt. Kevin Debruyckere was apparently biased because he was the brother-in-law of B.C. Liberal Party executive director Kelly Reichert who worked with Gary Collins and Premier Gordon Campbell - and this RCMP officer only disclosed this relationship to his bosses in early 2004, as defence lawyer Kevin McCullough, acting for Virk, argued before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

And Dave Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton told the media outside court that one of the problems with the investigation was the inducements that were apparently offered to Erik Bormann before he admitted to bribing Basi in a statement to the police.

As though these were not bad enough to sully the RCMP's reputation and badly damage their case, this week more shocking revelations emerged - and they exposed the DIRTY TACTICS USED BY CAMPBELL AND HIS TEAM.

The defence lawyers revealed how Campbell and his team used Dave Basi to make phony calls to radio talk shows and use disruptive tactics against opposition politicians, as McCullough put it: "The use of these political operatives was from the top down." He said it was clear that Campbell WAS AWARE of this.

McCullough said that Campbell actually mentioned in caucus that one of Basi's callers was good according to the wiretap evidence. He said that this call demonstrated that not only was the premier aware that it was a phony call, "but the premier was PLEASED. That call was not something that Mr. Basi dreamed up on his own, but rather was DIRECTED TO DO." (Emphasis mine).

According to the defence lawyers, Basi was directed "to get the posse together" to deal with NDP Leader Carole James interview on the Bill Good Show on Radio CKNW. He was also instructed to give a "rough ride" to former Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm on a talk show.

He was also asked to arrange for a fraud Safeway customer at a protest against salmon farming.

Basi was instructed by Mike McDonald, who reportedly managed media affairs for the Liberals, and Campbell's press secretary Mike Morton. [Mike McDonald's wife, Jessica McDonald, is Gordon Campbell's Deputy Premier. - BC Mary]

Also, last week the trial heard that Basi was paid for two $10,000 contracts by the Liberal Party for monitoring the media.

The defence lawyers now want all government documents regarding the B.C. Rail sale.

The implication here is quite obviously that many documents will be those that involve the premier himself - and we could be headed for some EXPLOSIVE REVELATIONS.

http://www.voiceonline.com/voice/thisweek/headline1.php
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CORRUPTION TRIAL TOLD OF THREAT
Neal Hall,
Vancouver Sun - Monday, April 30, 2007

The trial involving two former provincial government aides accused of corruption heard today that a defence lawyer got a call over the weekend from a man who said he received a threatening call four years ago from a lobbyist.

Kevin McCullough, the lawyer for the accused Bob Virk, told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett that the man claimed during the weekend call that he got a phone call in 2003 from Brian Kieran, who at the time ran a lobbying firm called Pilothouse Public Affairs. The man said Kieran threatened that if the man launched a media campaign against then-finance minister Gary Collins, it would have dire consequences for his organization.

The lawyer said the man who called over the weekend worked in the automobile repair industry. (Collins' lawyer, Clark Roberts, who is attending court to monitor the pre-trial proceedings, said he talked to Collins and he has no recollection of meeting that man who alleged he felt he was threatened by Kieran.) {Snip} ...

But the defence has not received disclosure of the complaint, McCullough said in his sixth day of legal arguments about the lack of disclosure of relevant documents.
He pointed out that while the special prosecutor has disclosed "hundreds of thousands" of pages of documents, the defence still is finding documents that have not been disclosed.

The defence shouldn't have to find needles in a haystack, McCullough told the court. {Snip} ...

The trial continues at the Vancouver Law Courts.

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/story.html?id=c51abc2f-8a2d-4f19-968e-df0184b5e39a&k=95686

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