Friday, April 20, 2007

 

Reports from Supreme Courtroom 54

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A basketful of reports came in early this morning for which we owe a big Thank You to our loyal friend, Denis Love. I'll do my best to snip out segments from the following copyright articles and to provide the links to the original items; otherwise, I beg forgiveness where the public interest seems to demand that this information is shared quickly and widely. Thanks to all. - BC Mary.
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BC LIBERALS MUM ON ATTEMPTS TO INFLUENCE MEDIA

Sean Holman
24 HOURS

There's an excellent story in 24 HOURS by Sean Holman. For some reason, I can't pick it up to copy-and-paste but would urge readers to go to the 24 HOURS web-site to read about the secret contract between the B.C. Liberal Party and Dave Basi while he was working as an aide to Gary Collins, the Minister of Finance.

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http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070420.BCBASI20/TPStory/TPNational/BritishColumbia/

LEGISLATURE RAID

Bureaucrats acted for minister, defence says
His clients targeted, lawyer argues

By MARK HUME
The Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER -- The political intrigue in a case that involved a raid on the provincial legislature deepened yesterday, with the defence suggesting former government employees charged with fraud and breach of trust were only acting on behalf of a cabinet minister.

Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough said police unfairly targeted the political operatives after realizing the minister they worked for could justify his activities as being political in nature.

Seeking to build a defence argument that the police acted in bad faith, Mr. McCullough urged Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the Supreme Court of British Columbia to look with suspicion on a decision by police to drop former finance minister Gary Collins as a suspect, while continuing to focus on David Basi and Bob Virk, who were ministerial assistants at the time.

Reading from a series of police briefing notes, Mr. McCullough asserted that Mr. Collins, who is no longer in politics, was suspected of being involved in alleged criminal activities with his then-aide Mr. Basi, and with Mr. Virk, who was then an assistant to the transportation minister.

"The RCMP were aware that, in their words, Mr. Collins may be committing criminal offences," he said.

The allegation was made during legal arguments and no evidence was entered to support the assertion.

Mr. McCullough said the two aides were wheeling and dealing at Mr. Collins's behest to try to keep on track a privatization deal that was of huge political importance because the government had already fumbled two other privatization deals, and they needed a success.

Court has heard that the deal to sell B.C. Rail to CN Rail for $1-billion was at risk of falling apart after CP Rail dropped out of the bidding and the only other competitor, OmniTRAX, threatened to follow suit.

By keeping OmniTRAX at the table, Mr. McCullough said, the government was able to extract about $200-million in extra concessions from CN Rail.

Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk are accused of accepting benefits in relation to the B.C. Rail sale. A third man, Aneal Basi, who was a government information officer, is charged with laundering money.

Mr. McCullough said Dave Basi and Mr. Virk set up a meeting between OmniTRAX and Mr. Collins, at which police suspected a "consolation prize" would be offered to keep the U.S. rail company in the bidding.

Mr. McCullough read a wiretap excerpt in which Mr. Basi told Jamie Elmhirst, a lobbyist for OmniTRAX and a member of Pilothouse Public Affairs: "I talked to my boss this morning . . . my boss said emphatically he will ensure they have a consolation prize."

One possible consolation prize discussed was the government-owned Roberts Bank superport facility, which was to have been sold separately from B.C. Rail, although that sale was later put on hold.

But Mr. McCullough said police dropped Mr. Collins as a suspect after that meeting when they realized he was in a position to disclose information or award consolation prizes, "and none of that would be illegal," because it could fall into the realm of political decision making.

"We say the RCMP changed the direction of the investigation when that would have dawned on them and then engaged in a tailoring and targeting of Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk," Mr. McCullough said.

Clark Roberts, a lawyer who is sitting in the public gallery to monitor the case for Mr. Collins, said outside court his client appears to have been a person of interest at one point, but the outcome of the investigation shows that police did not think he was involved in anything criminal.

"It's very clear that during the time that Mr. Basi was being wiretapped, that Mr. Collins was being considered . . .[but] the police through their wisdom decided that Mr. Collins was not involved -- and he isn't," he said.

"I think its very clear . . . when police announced [at the time of the legislature raids in December, 2003] that no elected official was being investigated they were telling the truth."

He also dismissed the allegation that Mr. Collins offered OmniTRAX an incentive to stay in the bidding.

"No consolation prize was ever offered by Mr. Collins. There may have been some discussion between Mr. Basi and others, but certainly not by Mr. Collins."
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http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/story.html?id=ebe81be8-86b4-466b-b952-5cd5f23965de&k=40650
Lawyer for former aides alleges 'big lie' by police

Defence claims officials were indeed investigated
Vancouver Sun
Friday, April 20, 2007

It was a "big lie" when police announced that no elected government officials were under investigation after the Dec. 28, 2003, raid on the B.C. legislature, defence lawyer Kevin McCullough alleged Thursday on the second day of the criminal trial of former government aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk.

The judge who authorized the warrants to search the legislature was also deceived by police, McCullough said. He said B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm was never told by police that then finance minister Gary Collins was also under investigation.

Had Dohm been informed, he said, the judge likely would not have approved the search because he would have been cognizant of the issue of parliamentary privilege. The judge was misled by police, he alleged in court.

"It's a substantial deception," McCullough said. "Clearly, they were investigating Collins."

Collins's lawyer, Clark Roberts, who has been sitting in court monitoring the trial, told reporters Thursday outside court that police mean what they said.

"I think it's very clear that when police announced that no elected officials were being investigated, they were telling the truth," Roberts said. "There was no investigation of him [Collins] or any other elected official."

McCullough argued that police briefing notes from Dec. 1 to Dec. 9, 2003, indicate Collins was under investigation, along with Collins's ministerial assistant, Basi, and Virk, who was an assistant to then transportation minister Judith Reid. {snip}

McCullough made a number of allegations in court Thursday as part of the joint defence application for the disclosure of more documents by the special prosecutor.

He said the RCMP knew by listening to a wiretapped phone call on Nov. 17, 2003, that Dave Basi advised OmniTRAX that Collins had authorized a "consolation prize" for it if it would stay in the bidding.

Basi also told Virk the same day in a call intercepted by police that Collins had approved the consolation prize, he added.

The lawyer said one of the bidders, CP Rail, had already dropped out over reported dissatisfaction that CN Rail was going to be the successful bidder, so the government wanted to keep OmniTRAX in the process to drive up the price.

McCullough said the sale of the railway was a politically sensitive issue fraught with controversy "because it was in direct contravention of a previous election promise not to sell BC Rail."

He pointed out that a police briefing note dated Dec. 9, 2003, says that Special O -- the undercover surveillance unit -- had been briefed about a pending face-to-face meeting set up between Collins and OmniTRAX executives.

He said Special O was involved in a massive surveillance operation when Collins met for more than two hours with OmniTRAX's Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson at the Villa Del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver Dec. 12, 2003. Undercover officers were inside and outside the restaurant.

McCullough argued that the police understanding at the time was that if Collins showed up at the meeting, it was corroboration of the discussions police had heard on the wiretap --that there was a consolation prize to be offered, possibly the BC Rail spur line to Roberts Bank or land in Squamish.

Roberts, Collins's lawyer, said outside court that his client was never involved in such discussions.

"No consolation prize was ever offered by Mr. Collins. There may have been some discussion by Mr. [Dave] Basi and others, but not by Mr. Collins," he said.

McCullough argued in court that while police discussed interviewing Collins shortly after the dinner, even considering going to Hawaii to interview Collins while he was on a Christmas vacation, police didn't interview him for almost two months.

The lawyer alleged that the team commander of the investigation, then RCMP Sgt. Kevin Debruyckere, was biased because his brother-in-law, Kelly Reichert, was executive director of the B.C. Liberal party and worked with Collins and Premier Gordon Campbell.

Debruyckere never disclosed his relationship with Reichert to his superiors until March 1, 2004, the defence lawyer told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

Debruyckere should have disclosed the relationship in late 2003, when he was making decisions about the investigation and Reichert was detected calling Dave Basi to discuss Liberal party business in a phone call taped by police, the lawyer said.

"The defence says this is a highly political investigation," McCullough said.

The lawyer also alleged that Reichert tipped off the premier on June 24, 2004, that the investigation was going to result in criminal charges. He implied that Debruyckere must have told Reichert this.

"That's a very, very helpful thing to the Liberals of British Columbia," McCullough said, adding Reichert gave the Liberals "a big heads up."

Basi's lawyer, Michael Bolton, said outside court Thursday, that the relationship between Reichert and Debruyckere was rife with conflict of interest.

"In our view, anyone connected with the Liberal party, by family or marriage, ought not to have had a pivotal role in this investigation," he said.

Another issue in the case, Bolton added, is what inducements were offered to Erik Bornmann before he made a police statement on April 28, 2004, admitting to the bribery of Dave Basi. Bornmann was previously a partner in the lobby firm Pilothouse Public Affairs, whose client was OmniTRAX, before Bornmann allegedly cut a deal with police to testify against Basi and Virk in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

"If the special prosecutor and the RCMP had an honest belief that Mr. Bornmann had committed the offences that they allege he committed -- by offering my client bribes --then obviously he shouldn't have been permitted to continue as a lobbyist," Bolton said.

Bornmann is expected to be the Crown's star witness at the trial.
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CORRUPTION TRIAL TOLD: 'POLICE LIED'
NEAL HALL
Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2007

It was a "big lie" when police announced that no elected government officials were under investigation after the raid on B.C.'s legislature on Dec. 28, 2003, a defence lawyer alleged at the trial of two government aides accused of corruption offences.
It was also a major deception of the judge who authorized the search warrants of the legislature, defence lawyer Kevin McCullough said today at the second day of the trial of Dave Basi and Bob Virk.

The lawyer said police briefing notes from Dec. 1, 2003, indicate that then-finance minister Gary Collins was under investigation, along with his ministerial assistant Basi, and so was and Virk, who was an assistant to former transportation minister Judith Reid.

McCullough also alleged that the police team commander of the investigation, RCMP Sgt. Kevin Debruyckere, was biased because his brother-in-law, Kelly Reichert, was the executive director of the B.C. Liberal Party and worked closely with Collins and Premier Gordon Campbell.

Debruyckere never disclosed his relationship with Reichert to his superiors until March 1, 2004, the defence lawyer told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett.
Debruyckere should have disclosed the relationship in late 2003, when he was making decisions about the investigation and Reichert was detected calling Dave Basi to discuss Liberal party business in a phone call secretly taped by police during a wiretap operation, the lawyer said.

Collins' lawyer, Clark Roberts, who has been sitting in court monitoring the trial, said outside court today that police were being truthful when it was announced, after the raid on the legislature, that no elected officials were under investigation.
"I think it's very clear that when police announced that no elected officials were being investigated, they were telling the truth," he said. "There was no investigation of him [Collins] or any other elected official."

Basi and Virk are accused of fraud, breach of trust and accepting money and other benefits during their involvement in the government's $1-billion sale of BC Rail operations to Canadian National Railways in November 2003.

The defence is making legal arguments about not receiving full disclosure of documents to allow the accused to prepare a full defence. The trial is expected to last until some time in August.

nhall@png.canwest.com

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COURT HEARS CLAIMS OF 'BAD FAITH'
By Dharm Makwana
24 Hours - 20 April 2007

Kevin McCullough, defence attorney for Bob Virk, alleged "a pattern of bad faith" against the RCMP for dropping former finance minister Gary Collins from the B.C. Rail investigation on Dec. 12, 2003 a B.C. Supreme Court judge heard yesterday.

McCullough quoted a Nov. 26, 2003 RCMP briefing note, saying, "Minister of Finance Gary Collins may be aware of inappropriate communication," with OmniTRAX for a "consolation prize" if the company remains in the bidding for B.C. Rail.

On Dec. 12, 2003 the RCMP conducted close to a three-hour surveillance operation of Collins meeting with an OmniTRAX executive and an unidentified man.

Police were tipped off by an intercepted Nov. 17, 2003 phone call from Collins' then-aide David Basi who is also on trial.

McCullough read into the record part of the conversation:

"[Collins] is going to work his ass off to ensure they get a consolation prize," Basi is quoted as saying.

Basi had a similar conversation with Bob Virk, also then a ministerial aide.

Collins' attorney Clark Roberts took in the morning session as an observer and supports the RCMP decision to drop the probe of his client.

"The fact is the police in their wisdom decided there's no truth to [the allegations]," he said.
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DEFENCE LAWYER ACCUSES RCMP OF "BIG LIE" IN LEGISLATURE RAID

Canadian Press, The Province
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2007

VANCOUVER — The RCMP told a “big lie” by saying that former B.C. finance minister Gary Collins wasn’t being investigated for his role in the sale of Crown-owned B.C. Rail, a lawyer said Thursday.

Kevin McCullough, who is representing former government aide Bobby Virk, said his client, Collins and Dave Basi, who was Collins’s aide, were the subject of a probe that led to a raid on the provincial legislature on Dec. 28, 2003.

But the Mounties targeted Basi and Virk though Collins had been investigated for allegedly offering a consolation prize so that one of three companies would stay in the bidding process for what was a highly political deal, McCullough told B.C. Supreme Court.

The court is hearing disclosure arguments at the trial of Basi and Virk, who are charged with fraud and breach of trust in the sale of B.C. Rail.

It’s alleged they put the bidding process in jeopardy by leaking documents in hopes of getting federal government jobs.

Court was told that on Dec. 12, 2003, the RCMP conducted surveillance of Collins at an almost three-hour meeting with an OmniTRAX executive and an unidentified man at a Vancouver restaurant. OmniTRAX was one of the companies in the bidding.

That was after the Mounties had intercepted a Nov. 17, 2003, phone call Basi made to OmniTRAX about setting up the meeting, which he wanted to be kept private, McCullough said.

“(Collins) is going to work his ass off to make sure they get a consolation prize,” McCullough quoted Basi as saying in the call.

The consolation prize was believed to be Roberts Bank, a spur rail line south of Vancouver, or property in Squamish, B.C., McCullough said.

He quoted RCMP briefing notes from Dec. 9, 2003, which said: ”Surveillance is necessary to confirm the meeting as it corroborates earlier intercepted communications” involving Basi’s call about the meeting.

”This will ensure whether the finance minister is involved with any of the commissioned offences,” the notes said.

“So that’s what their understanding is, when Collins shows up the circle’s been completed,” McCullough said.

But the investigation fell silent before police applied for a search warrant to raid the legislature and failed to tell Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm of the B.C. Supreme Court that Collins was also being probed, McCullough said.

“Minister Collins vanished (from the investigation) because they weren’t going to get into the legislature if they told the truth,” he said.

Revealing a politician was under investigation may have prevented the judge from allowing the search because parliamentary privilege could have been cited, he said.

“For them to simply fail to tell Mr. Justice Dohm they were (investigating Collins) is a substantial and significant deception. Clearly, they were investigating minister Collins for his alleged criminal activity.”

McCullough said the Mounties’ deception also allowed Collins and the Liberal government to have ”deniability” about any negative involvement in the sale whose outcome could have meant “political suicide” for the party.

Basi and Virk charged after police raided the B.C. legislature in late 2002 in a drug trafficking probe.

RCMP have said all along that no elected officials were involved in the case.

McCullough said the B.C. Rail sale went through after CP Rail withdrew from the bidding process following unconfirmed reports that CN would be winning the bid, making it crucial for the government to keep OmniTRAX in the process.

The government was already under intense pressure after failed attempts at privatizing liquor stores and the building of the Coquihalla Highway, the lawyer said.

Clark Roberts, Collins’s lawyer, said his client didn’t offer any consolation prize.

“Mr. Collins followed Mr. Basi’s instructions,” he said, when asked why Collins would meet with OmniTRAX officials after police intercepted a phone call in which Basi said he’d arrange the meeting.

McCullough said the alleged offer of a consolation prize to OmniTRAX would not have been criminal but may have involved other ramifications for the Liberal party.

McCullough also told the court that RCMP Insp. Kevin Debruyckere, who directed the police investigation, is the brother-in-law of Kelly Reichert, the Liberal party’s executive director, creating the potential of conflict of interest.

However, Debruyckere didn’t disclose that information until March 1, 2004, he said.

McCullough said police withheld evidence they had about the December 2003 probe involving Collins until December 2006, not allowing Basi and Virk to defend themselves.

He said that’s an abuse of process by the Mounties and the case should be tossed out.
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Comments:
Meanwhile....this am on Mr. Good's radio show the Ledge boys prattle on.

In fairness, Mr. Palmer raised both the issue of Mr. Collins and even went so far as to suggest that if the Premier was, indeed, receiving information about the investigation when he shouldn't have been that that would be a problem.

For his part Mr. Baldrey just doesn't think that this will be a problem for the government. After all, he says, everybody who was involved left government.

Which beges the question that, of course, Mr. Good did not ask.....

Why, Mr. Baldrey did they leave government so abruptly in the first place.

Sheesh.......
 
Absolutely, right on the money, Gazetteer - what a SILLY comment for Keith B. to have spouted!! It is common practise that when a government member/senior bureaucrat gets into hot water they exit, with a big payoff, stage left.

Could it be that both Bill Goode & Mr. Baldrey are the recipients of some of those "Media Contracts" dished out? Something has to explain their obvious 'slant' to their banter.

Has anyone ever experienced the cross examination by Goode's producer when you call in? It is pathetic . . . Unless one says what they are looking for to support their view you're left hanging on that line for all time LOL - very transparent. I have dismissed the show as irrelevant & I am not alone. CKNW ratings have slipped big time.
 
Re Mr. Baldrey's "analysis"... lol:

And does the action of just "leaving the government" miraculously absolve those involved of all responsibility and accountability?
 
lynx--

Absolutely not.

Especially when the actions of those 'former' government officials will affect the public assets of British Columbians in perpetuity.

Oh, wait.

I'm sorry......

Make that a 'mere' 990 years.


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B.C. Liberals mum on attempts to influence media

By SEAN HOLMAN, 24 HOURS


Yesterday, 24 hours was the only major daily newspaper in Vancouver to tell you about allegations David Basi, "while a ministerial assistant, was hired by the Liberal party on media monitoring contracts" which was "a highly political effort to sway public opinion through the use of radio shows and other events."

Asked about those allegations, which were made during the opening day of the Basi-Virk trial by former senior aide Bob Virk's lawyer, provincial Liberal communications director Chad Pederson said, "We're not going to be commenting on anything that's coming out with the court proceedings. From our standpoint, it's a matter before the courts. And we're going to let that process take its course."

But there have been numerous attempts by administration and party officials - not connected to the aforementioned allegations - to sway public opinion through the use of radio shows and online opinion polls.

For example, in January 2005, the premier's then Asia-Pacific trade and economic development director Prem Vinning used a different name other than his own when phoning in a question to a weekend Channel M call-in show featuring Gordon Campbell. Then, in July, callers suspected of being Liberal organizers phoned into a CKNW segment - again featuring Campbell.

And last March, one of those same organizers was caught encouraging supporters to skew the results of a civic politics online poll on the Tri-City News website.

The allegations made by Virk's lawyer have not been proven in court.
 
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Anonymous 7:15, bless you.

Sean Holman's work is so strong, thanks for providing a copy.
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Exactly, gazetteer...our public assets lost for a "mere" 990 years...and never was there a better example of "the marketing aspect" that is so representative of the present crew in Victoria. 990 years sounds soooo much better than a ghastly, interminably long one thousand years. It hides the cruel truth of this colossal betrayal so well.

Kinda like $99.95 sounds so much better than a hundred dollars.
 
Absolutely L.

Mary - I'm really glad that it looks like Messr's Tieleman and Holman appear to have gotten the greenlight from the folks running things at 24hrs to give this the ol' 1-2 punch over the long haul.

And if they really do it, I think this just might be end of the CanWest hegemony over the public prints in this province.

Because, to paraphrase WP Kinsella,.....

'People will read Ray, people will read.'

Or some such thing.

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