Monday, May 07, 2007
Robin Mathews: May 7 Courtroom 54
MOST OF MONDAY, MAY 7, IN SUPREME COURTROOM 54
By Robin Mathews
The day is taken up with the Crown (Janet Winteringham) [no sign of William Berardino, appointed Special Crown Prosecutor] registering "inaccuracies" it believes were made in the Defence Application for Disclosure of materials relevant to the forthcoming (?) trial of Basi, Basi, and Virk. Counsel Winteringham said, also, she would supply a "road map" of the arguments the Crown will make in answer to the Defence.
To an ordinary Canadian (not counsel, not an "interested party", not part of the self-censoring group called "journalists", not a lawyer sitting there each day for Gary Collins, not a young man visiting for the Attorney General's Office, not a Supreme Court judge - just "a Canadian") the movement of the focus in the hearings is especially interesting. The focus swung hard today as the Crown took the floor to answer Defence.
My own observations as an ordinary Canadian are sharpened, perhaps, by the fact that in another province's Supreme Court, in an action against public officers, my colleagues and I faced what I became convinced was a wholly perjured trial, aided and abetted by what I also believe was a fully, politically inspired judge. My views were not seriously challenged by a young lawyer who told me at the time, over lunch, that he considered perjury one of the instruments of court operation. Delay in that matter was heaped upon delay to prevent the case from ever going to trial. I became something of an expert in analysis of delay tactics. I was, as well, able to examine the effect of a unified position taken by opposing counsel, the judge, and (less visibly) the government in power. That didn't make me respect the courts less. But it made me more sharp-eyed in respect to them.
The continuing refusal - for that reason - by Madam Justice Bennett and Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm to provide publicly recorded documents to Canadians does not fool me one whit. For instance, today the Crown read from an affidavit sworn to by that interesting and highly suspect RCMP officer Sergeant Debruyckere (now an Inspector, no doubt as a result of outstanding service to ... somebody) who is the brother-in-law of a Liberal who was then Executive Director of the B.C. Liberal Party. That affidavit is sworn; it is not going away; it was quoted in court. It is in permanent form. I want it.
But Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett will defy Canadian rights and the Constitution to keep that document (and others) from me. She will, she says, release documents when the actual trial begins. But she does not fool me in the least. As long as documents on public record are denied to Canadians in her court, I insist she is under suspicion of running a biased court, of toadying to the Gordon Campbell government and its desire for as much secrecy as possible.
Among the ten "inaccuracies" of the Defence in its argument, the Crown included the statement that the investigation was not shifted away from Gary Collins who was not, Crown alleges, under investigation. Inspector Debruyckere, Crown stated, advised his superiors of his connection to Kelly Reichert before the officer undertook the task of investigation - not three months later. [That merely opens the question whether his superiors approved of his connection, a connection many believe should have invalidated Debruyckere immediately]. Crown stated that disclosure has been fair and reasonable, and that documents don't exist covering the special deal(s) made between Star Witness Erik Bornmann and Special Prosecutor William Berardino. How, the Crown asked, can it produce documents which don't exist? [Here the question might well be what in God's Name is Berardino doing, entering a special deal of key importance that cannot be analysed through the existence of report, terms discussed, and summary documents of the time?]
In regard to disclosure Crown summed up by saying that Defence says "hand it all over" but that for the Crown to do so would be an "abdication of the Crown's responsibility".
Crown presented a picture of complicated drug, crime, corruption investigations bumping into each other, of officers in Vancouver and Victoria (even Toronto), And more.
The Crown then outlined the alleged wrong-doing of the accused and said much about who was in charge of what aspect of investigation. It made a case, as well - as far as I understood the argument - for a reasonable assessment of the worth of BC Rail having been made before its sale.
In short, the Crown is trying to focus on a narrow area of contestation - the innocence or guilt of the accused. In that focus the dirty sale of BC Rail is overlooked - from the political double-cross after a solemn election promise not to sell, through the loud statements of CP Rail that the bidding process was seriously tainted, to the allegedly corrupt dealings that promised a "consolation prize" to OMNItrax to stay (falsely) in the bidding.
It seems the Crown wants to ignore the astonishing relation of Sergeant Debruyckere to a top Liberal Party figure who is alleged to have received information, through the officer, that went to cabinet. The Crown wants no more said about Gary Collins, nor about Solicitor General Coleman allegedly preventing RCMP officers from interviewing Collins immediately following the Legislature search warrant "raids" - interfering with a police investigation?
In short, you will say, the two sides seem galaxies apart, and wrangling is almost certain to go on for months (conservatively speaking). And the wrangling will be about what the trial should focus on, what, in fact, it is really about.....
Not necessarily. The whole matter is a confusion of interests, some of which do not seem to want justice to be done or be seen to be done. That problem is answered by our great concept of an independent judiciary. Fortunately, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett can order a temporary recess of the hearings while the RCMP investigates the leads the Defence has exposed. The RCMP can lay further charges against people deserving of court examination. And then the court processes in courtroom 54 can resume. Very simple.
Then, if the three men charged are still alleged to be guilty, they can be tried. And all the other people who have somehow, by accident or inadvertence or technical failure or inattention, failed to be charged can be - and both Crown and Defence will then agree on the terms upon which the trial should go ahead. If further investigation implicates Gordon Campbell in the wrong doing, for instance, that should bother no one in a democratic society, for no person however powerful is - in a democracy - given special treatment.
We all know that.
But any ordinary and reasonable and simple Canadian might well begin to think that if the Court permits the circus-performance before us, the game of hide and seek, to go on, the Court is not very interested in seeing justice done, but something else - something else, perhaps dark, which we can only wonder about.
What happened to "the public interest is Paramount". It was in her court the beginning of April when she said it. And I commented on it right here in this Blog on April 4 2007. Check the archives.
To me, her reversal means that someone got to her and adds fuel to your fire that they are delaying this thing out of existance. Which tells me and I'm sure many others that the court system in this province has turned into a sham. It is here to protect government officials and MLA's but not the people of this province. What a complete and utter travesty.
I think that before this trial is even dismisseed we'd better get together and do something To right this wrong that has been done to the people of B.C.
On her refusal: have you considered a challenge of any kind?
Constitional? If there is a financial problem can we get a fund going? Has anyone else thought of what could be done?
You can almost hear the ominous sound of the shift in focus, the heavy weight of it in your writing, Robin.
Let's hope the ordinary Canadian prevails through this circus. May what's hidden up the magicians' sleeves finally be exposed.
Thank you again for the honesty of your insights.
Can someone explain to me what the Crown is trying to say when some officer's are investigating Collins and others are not?
Quite frankly I am not impressed with the Crown response. Sounds like they are talking from both sides of their mouths.
Maybe, but . . . . perhaps there are 2 agendas operating within the RCMP:
- one is the ethical police officers pursuing the evidence uncovered & documenting their findings;
- the other is a senior level dancing with the senior political levels of the Campbell Govt. - cherry picking/sanitizing the evidence as they go.
If the police are correct about the evidence surrounding the drug dealing by the aides, that does not mean that there wasn't corruption related to the BC Rail deal - it just means that one thread led to another - this other thread re: the BC rail deal may have been unexpected by the RCMP, thus the leaks to the Campbell govt.& the panic to protect the Cabinet involved in the dirty deal.
Both threads are rotten.
I'm at work now, but I think I can provide a link to the warrant approval that was signed by Associate Chief Justice Dohm sometime later today.
Check back tonight.
The drug investigation was only one (1) of several items cited in the warrant.
I don't know if the Crown is being disingenuous or not but this case has been about a lot more than drugs from the beginning. Nonetheless, it is interesting how the word “DRUGS” does seem to go to a headline writer’s head though isn’t it?
Here's the promised link to the warrant (note the date - Sept 2003):
I am not sure what section that you wish to point to.
This search warrant is for bank accounts.
Last I checked the "drug" investigation was dropped but a money laundering investigation is ongoing. Makes you wonder how long for this whole thing will go on and what will be the final bill??
Absolutely, but remember that this warrant is dated September of 2003 and, while I don't have the other wiretap warrants (as far as I know they have never been released to the public), I expect they are very similar to this one.
The warrant - sworn later (Dec 13 if memory serves) - again before Justice Patrick Dohm - which permitted the 'raid' on the Legislature, would have had a lot more information in it upon which to base its actions - supported, as it was upon the materials gleaned from 2 - 2 1/2 months or so of recorded phone conversations (almost 7,000 calls on Basi's phone alone). I don’t think anyone has ever suggested that Gary Farrell-Collins was involved in the drugs trade. IN fact, there has already been several references to the way the tendering process relative to the sale of BC Rail may have been corrupted by individuals including the Finance Minister.
My assumption is that the 'drugs' portion of this case [and evidence from court indicates that there was lots of debate going on within the police team about whom and what exactly were the main targets of this investigation] tended to be less and less important as the investigation went on.
In addition, of course, we know the drug charges laid against the principals were subsequently dropped or stayed.
So the question is, and this is where the prosecution is going to get a lot of stick from the defence, a couple of months after the issuance of the September Warrants, WAS THIS REALLY A DRUG INVESTIGATION OR NOT? It’s a big part of the defence theory of the case that this was a trumped up charge. I assume defence counsel have seen the warrants – all of them.
If it wasn't, and the raid went ahead as did the surveillance of Collins' meeting with Johnson and Broe (not to mention the 'now apparently missing' deal with Bornmann), then it was about something else.
Moreover, that's why the partial, incomplete and, dare I suggest, withheld disclosure by the Crown is going to be a 'real' problem unless the Judge finds the jam to demand compliance. She seemed to be getting a little impatient in court yesterday.
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