Wednesday, May 16, 2007

 

Introduction to May 16 news clippings

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Sometimes BC Mary turns to trusted others in search of balance and equilibrium when scanning the Big News Media and figuring out what's best to post here on The Legislature Raids. I appreciate the brainpower, skills and sometimes humour that is generously offered behind the scenes. For example, Bill Tieleman is outstandingly generous in sharing his articles. The Anonymice are solid indispensible supporters as well.

As time goes on, CanWest news services are starting to carry a few reports about the B.C. Rail - Basi, Virk, Basi trial. Although welcome, these reports have problems. The uncontrollable CanWest bias still tries to make most allegations sound like the NDP's fault, whereupon the reader is knocked back in disbelief. But CanWest also allows in bits of real news, as in the following story. What to do?

Today, when the piece from Victoria Times Colonist showed up, copied below, I asked for an immediate editorial consultation with our old friend Anonymous, the esteemed author who dissected the Application for Disclosure for us. In quick time, I received certain ... ahem ... commentaries which with permission I present here embedded in the TC story.

The bolded comments on Big Media's news of the day, are spoken by Anonymous. I have added in square brackets, some words to clarify certain mysterious CanWest omissions which, as usual, happen to shield the B.C. LINO Party. Which unfortunately is what makes CanWest so unreliable as a news source.

Thanks, Anons One and all. - BC Mary.
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DIRTY-TRICK QUESTIONS KEEP MOUNTING
Oppal's silence leaves allegations hanging over Liberals' heads

Les Leyne
Times Colonist - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The B.C. Liberal government is adamant that it will utter not one word about all the dirty-tricks allegations emanating from the B.C. Rail political corruption trial until judgment has been rendered.

That's going to leave an awful lot of dirty-looking laundry hanging on the line for an awfully long time. {Snip}

When the RCMP interviewed party executive director Kelly Reichert, he allegedly told them he'd prefer not to see any charges laid in that regard because it would embarrass the [BC Liberal] party.

That interview followed a meeting Reichert had with Premier Gordon Campbell, which left the Opposition wondering whether Reichert was reflecting the premier's views during his interview.

The answer, as usual, was: "We're not going to comment on evidence that's before the courts."

That didn't stop the NDP from feasting on the new link to the premier's office for the duration of question period. Anonymous: Huh? Something wrong with the Official Opposition behaving like an Official Opposition?

Said NDP Leader Carole James: "According to documents read in court, the RCMP asked Mr. Reichert if the potential for harm to the party should take precedence over good prosecution. Mr. Reichert said it would."

Attorney General Wally Oppal maintained his staunch refusal in the legislature to comment on cases before the court, a stance that has earned him the nickname "Stonewally."

That prompted James to retort, "We should remind the members on the other side that they did not take a vow of silence. They took an oath of office when they came into this position."

Reichert's preferences are entirely understandable. Huh?

What Liberal wouldn't prefer to see the whole mess go away?

The question is whether his view was informed by the premier's outlook, and whether that preference had any bearing on the police decision eventually not to pursue dirty-tricks charges.

And it's complicated by the fact yesterday's version of events was just read into the court record unchallenged. [What exactly does this mean?? - BC Mary.]



Anonymous: It's BS Mary - what Robin's been yelling about - because the documents are now under embargo we CAN'T see them so the only evidence that can be presented is What's read out in court - nonsense.

It's based on notes by a police officer made after a tape recorder was turned off. Yeah! Duh. That's part of the insidious implication of the whole report - how stupid is this guy?

Various New Democrats demanded in turn that Oppal find out what was going on, condemn it in the strongest possible terms, ask the premier if he interfered, reassure people there are no dirty tricks and investigate the dirty tricks thoroughly.

All of which was ignored as Oppal clung to the "it's before the courts" defence like a barnacle.

But the latest question goes to the top of what is becoming a remarkably long list, considering the trial proper hasn't even started yet. {Snip}


Rich Coleman was solicitor general at the time. He denies any attempt to influence the police. Where did the ministry get the idea it could do so? What "cabinet confidences" were they worried about?

Oppal closed yesterday's lesson in politics with this observation. "Evidence doesn't become factual unless a judge says it's factual ... You don't rely on evidence, you rely on the facts that come from that evidence."



Anonymous: And this is just plain BULLSH*T. The jury, (which the judge will be sitting in for once the trial actually begins) is the finder of fact and fact is based on evidence led before the court. In cases where the judge acts as both judge and jury - like this one - she's doing both things: deciding what "evidence" is admissible; and how much weight to give that evidence. On the weight of all the evidence (she's gonna decide what to admit and what to reject at some point) presented to her she will determine whether or not the Crown has made its case against the accused.


The 'facts' don't change Wally - the judge just decides which ones (for a complicated variety of legal reasons) get admitted as evidence. It sure as hell wasn't a lesson in jurisprudence. I really wonder if Wally is senile. If this were a jury trial we'd be seeing none of this Mary - the defence chose trial by Judge alone for very good and extremly astute reasons - in my view. What Wally says would only make sense if this were a jury trial - but then he'd be saying "the Jury determines the facts and assigns guilt or innocence and the judge determines what 'evidence' they can consider in making that decision. In this case the judge wears both hats - which is why, as we've known all along - the key player is Lizzy Bennett. In that case all this sub judice stuff would be important and the Opposition would BE IRRESPONSIBLE TO BRING THE STUFF TO THE PUBLIC'S ATTENTION. WHY SOMEONE HASN'T MADE THE POINT THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S ARGUMENT ABOUT ' PROTECTING' JUSTICE BENNETT IS INSULTING TO THE COMPETENCE AND INTEGRITY OF A SUPREME COURT JUDGE IS A MYSTERY TO ME.


The whole argument that what's said in the Legislature could prejudice this case is complete and utter nonsense. Which is why I can't understand why some lawyer in the Opposition doesn't just stand up and ask why the Govt is trying to protect a competent judge from something you can be sure she's going to ignore anyway - there is NO JURY POOL TO POLLUTE and Lizzy Bennett is seeing everything that either side presents to her anyway. She's either capable of judging this case or she's not. Period.


http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/comment/story.html?id=3cdd8ced-cef7-44f3-9cc8-fae3cc266bca&p=2

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BC LIBERAL PARTY ASKED RCMP NOT TO LAY CHARGES IN BASI-VIRK DIRTY TRICKS, DEFENCE ALLEGES

Defence alleges political interference


By BILL TIELEMAN
24 HOURS - Wed., May 16, 2007

The defence in the B.C. Legislature raid case alleged yesterday that the B.C. Liberal Party asked the RCMP not to charge former provincial government aide David Basi over dirty tricks conducted while under contract to the party.

Lawyers for Basi and Bob Virk, two ministerial aides charged with breach of trust and fraud, alleged tricks included a plan to dump manure at the home of B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair and a Liberal-organized protest at the Federation's 2003 convention.

The Federation strongly opposed the Liberal privatization of B.C. Rail in 2003.

Virk's defence lawyer Kevin McCullough alleged that the RCMP consulted B.C. Liberal Party Executive Director Kelly Reichert, who told Premier Gordon Campbell that criminal charges were recommended against Basi.

McCullough alleged an "effort by Reichert to not have the charges approved. That reeks of political interference."

The allegations come from a June 24, 2005 RCMP report titled: "Kelly Reichert - Do Not Disclose."

McCullough said a recorded RCMP interview with Reichert was stopped but a conversation continued.

"After the tape was turned off Mr. Reichert was asked if the Liberal Party was comfortable being the victim in three payments to Basi. Reichert said frankly any good to the party by prosecutions would be outweighed by the embarrassment to the party, with the issue of the load of manure dumped on Jim Sinclair's lawn and sending people to the B.C. Federation of Labour convention," McCullough alleged.

Sinclair told 24 hours there were protesters at the Federation convention but that his home was never attacked. Sinclair asked why the RCMP would allegedly consult the Liberal Party but not the Federation.

At B.C. Supreme Court, NDP MLA Leonard Krog called for an investigation into B.C. Rail and government and Liberal Party conduct.

But Attorney-General Wally Oppal rejected any inquiry call. "Because some allegations are made, do we start holding inquiries? Maybe it's accurate. Maybe it's not. Let's wait to see what the judge finds."

Posted by Bill Tieleman
at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/

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LIBERALS ALLEGEDLY ASKED MOUNTIES NOT TO CHARGE BASI
Defence lawyer says police, prosecutor are controlling documents to protect Liberals


Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough alleges interference.
The Canadian Press - Wednesday May 16, 2007

The executive-director of the B.C. Liberals didn't want the RCMP to charge a ministerial aide because he feared it would embarrass the government and expose the party's questionable tactics, B.C. Supreme Court heard yesterday.

Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough said Kelly Reichert believed charges would harm the Liberals, just five weeks after they won the 2005 election. {Snip}

McCullough read from a police report dated June 24, 2005, that said Reichert didn't want the Crown to charge Basi because that would bring up other Liberal activities.

The report also said Reichert didn't want the party to be outed for sending demonstrators to a convention of the B.C. Federation of Labour, which was seen as being aligned with the Opposition NDP.

The charges were never laid.

McCullough also told the court that Basi had discussed his radio call-in tactics with Collins and that the RCMP were aware of that from intercepted phone calls.

"They knew that Basi was asking minister Collins whether to do it and minister Collins was saying, 'Absolutely.' " {Snip}

McCullough, who is representing Virk, questioned why Reichert told Premier Gordon Campbell about the pending radio call-in charges against Basi, arguing that his action reeks of political interference.

Outside court, Leonard Krog, the NDP critic for the Attorney-General's Ministry, said the Liberals need to come clean about the allegations.

"What the premier and the attorney-general need to do now is to get past the stonewalling and answer the questions that have been raised during this trial about alleged political interference," Krog said.

McCullough said the RCMP report of Reichert was only disclosed to the defence late last week. It was titled "Kelly Reichert, Not for Disclosure."

"I have a niggling suspicion that this is not the only document with the 'Not for Disclosure' title on it," he told Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

McCullough said the RCMP, along with the special prosecutor, are controlling the disclosure of documents to protect the Liberal party.

There's no information to indicate who told Reichert about the pending charges against Basi.

The commander of the investigation against Basi and his co-accused was Reichert's brother-in-law, RCMP Insp. Kevin Debruyckere, McCullough said.

Read more at:
http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=6cf36fd8-02e9-4b6c-b534-602851f44cbf

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[News item: Today the Basi Virk Basi trial took first place in the Headline Scan lineup of both Vancouver Sun and The Province. First time ever. - BC Mary.]

LIBERAL TRIED TO 'SWAY' POLICE
RCMP told that charges against aides would embarrass party, defence tells corruption trial


Neal Hall and Miro Cernetig
Vancouver Sun - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Print copy and Online copy: Interesting photo of
Gordon Campbell and Kelly Reichert
CREDIT: Bonny Makarewicz/Special to Sun


... (Snip}The long-standing defence theory, which has not been proven in court, is that there was political interference in the RCMP investigation ... During Tuesday's question period, [Leader of the Opposition] James said the matter goes directly to the public's trust in government.

"Did the premier get involved?" she asked.

"Did Mr. Reichert get involved? Did political dirty tricks come out of the premier's office? Did the premier know if dirty tricks were coming out of the office?"

Court has already heard how police also investigated allegations of "dirty tricks" carried out by Liberal party political operatives with the knowledge of their political masters. The defence has alleged the police tailored their investigation away from politicians.

The proceedings were earlier told the team commander of the investigation, RCMP Insp. Kevin Debruyckere, was the brother-in-law of Reichert. {Snip}

What set off Tuesday's legislative debate was defence lawyer Kevin McCullough telling the court a police report dated June 24, 2005, written by RCMP Cpl. Randy Reed, was disclosed by the prosecution last Thursday after court ended for the day. {Snip}

"Reichert is trying to convince the RCMP not to lay charges because it will be an embarrassment to government," the defence lawyer said.

He questioned how the recently disclosed document was "miraculously missed" from being disclosed earlier.

The defence earlier alleged Reichert told Campbell on June 24, 2005, that police were recommending charges for the three former aides accused of corruption -- Dave Basi, Bob Virk and Basi's cousin, Aneal Basi.

"We still don't have an answer about who told Reichert to tell the premier," McCullough said.

An affidavit by Debruyckere stated he never discussed the investigation with Reichert, McCullough told the court. But Debruyckere's affidavit doesn't specifically deny he told Reichert that charges were being recommended by police, he added. The defence lawyer urged the judge to allow Debruyckere to be cross-examined. {Snip}

Full story at:
http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=b7b3c84b-00bc-4924-bfb7-7a47eaf4a8e0

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STAR WITNESS AT BASI-VIRK TRIAL COULD FACE GRILLING
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 | 2:47 PM PT
CBC News - CBC Online

The defence in the political corruption trial of former B.C. Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk want the Crown's star witness, his lawyer and the special prosecutor put on the stand.

Basi and Virk are charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting money and other benefits in the sale of the Crown-owned B.C. Rail line to CN Rail in November 2003.

Basi's lawyer, Michael Bolton, made the request to the judge during a pre-trial disclosure application, saying it's the only way the defence can get to see the terms of the deal ex-lobbyist Eric Bornman made with the special prosecutor to protect himself.

Bolton said he and the other defence lawyers cannot prepare a proper defence because the terms of that deal have never been revealed.

Bornman was a lobbyist with Pilothouse Public Affairs in Victoria, who Bolton says, admitted giving bribes to the two accused.

He is expected to be the Crown's star witness when the trial proper gets underway in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

The court has already heard how Bornman declared himself exonerated of any suspicion in the B.C. Rail deal, and how that public statement in 2004 caused the special prosecutor to try to cancel the deal.

The problem, according to Bolton, is the deal was never written down and there has been no disclosure of it. He said that flies in the face of the public interest.

He said Bornman has admitted to giving bribes, but still maintains he's not culpable. And Bolton said that's why he wants special prosecutor Bill Berardino, Bornman and his lawyer on the stand so they can be cross-examined.

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BASI LAWYER DEMANDS SPECIAL PROSECUTOR APPEAR
By Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - 16 MAY 2007

... Defence lawyer Michael Bolton, representing Dave Basi, said in court today that Bornmann claimed he bribed government officials but cut an immunity deal with police and the Crown.

He reiterated today that details of the deal have not been disclosed, so counsel can't properly prepare their defence of the three accused.

Bolton asked the court to order Bill Berardino, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, to appear in court for cross-examination.

He added the defence also wants to cross-examine Bornmann, his lawyer George Macintosh and Andi MacKay, a member of the special prosecution team.

The cross-examination of a special prosecutor would be highly unusual if allowed by the judge.

None of the allegations made by the defence have been proven in court. The allegations were made during legal arguments for more Crown disclosure.

The hearing will be adjourned for two weeks to allow the judge to rule on the defence disclosure application, which was heard over the last five weeks. The defence still has a number of other pre-trial applications to be heard.

Read more: www.canada.com/globaltv/bc/story.html/

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Thanks Neal. Two weeks from now is Wed. 30 May 2007, right?
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THE BIG CHILL
Posted by Sean Holman
Public Eye Online - May 15, 2007

Provincial Liberals have once again tried to turn down the temperature in the legislature by suggesting the New Democrats are at risk of legal action - this time, by asking questions about the Basi-Virk trial.

"Go say it outside," heckled House Leader Mike de Jong during today's question period.

"Say it in the hallway," demanded Solicitor General John Les.

So what does New Democrat leader Carole James make of those threats? Speaking with reporters, Ms James said, "I think it shows this government will do absolutely anything to avoid answering questions. They're trying to threaten people. They're trying to raise concerns that if you say things, something might happen. Well, we're going to raising these issues on behalf of the public. These are serious allegations. The public deserves answers. And they certainly deserve better than they're getting from this government."

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Comments:
Mary

Do you think that all the stonewalling in the leg and the foot dragging of the prosecution might be to stall everything until the leg breaks for summer? That way the Liberals won't be around to answer damning queations.

If this proves true then it will be one hot summer with protests an e-mailing all the Liberal MLA's I think.
 
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Hi Gary:

According to Neal Hall, the Basi Virk Basi hearings were adjourned today for a 2-week period.

So I guess that answers your question: it means that by May 30 when the Basi Virk Basi hearings start up again, the Legislature will be closed, and all the M.L.A.s as you say won't be around to answer damning questions.

Funny how that works out, eh?

Also, I'm interested to know if the premier will announce a date for the Fall Sitting of the Legislature to begin again.

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Hi Mary

It will probably be a 2 hour sitting on the last possible day.

Well if they have adlourned for two weeks as Neal says then I wll probably only be able to cover 3 or 4 days from the 30th to the 3rd of June. In the meantime I will be contacting every Liberal MLA with my questins until they are answered or court resumes.

Off topic I will be questioning the pay raises and pensions also.

I live in an NDP riding so I don't think there are any Liberal constituancy offices here. But Charlie Wyse will be hearing from me as well. And watch out Vancouver, I will be there for 9 days with only a few appointments over that time.
 
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