Thursday, June 07, 2007

 

Huge disclosure of sensitive documents on B.C. Rail, gifts to MLAs, media influence

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BASI-VIRK DEFENCE DEMANDS HUGE DISCLOSURE OF SENSITIVE GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS ON B.C. RAIL, GIFTS TO MLAs, MEDIA INFLUENCE

Bill Tieleman
http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/ - 7 June 2007

A defence disclosure application in the trial of former BC Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk released today demands the provincial government release a massive number of sensitive and confidential documents related to the
$1 billion sale of BC Rail, gifts to MLAs and cabinet ministers and efforts to influence the media and public opinion.

The application is sweeping, asking for all records, including documents and emails, from Premier Gordon Campbell's office and staff, from the offices of a series of past and present cabinet ministers and the offices of BC Rail.

It also demands "strategy, policy and any related decision-making pertaining to the influencing, gauging or monitoring of public opinion thorough media and other public forums."

The application shows the defence is clearly pursuing its theory that ex-Finance Minister Gary Collins was wrongly dropped as a suspect by RCMP. It requests records on: "the issue of whether and to what extent members of the provincial government, including Minister Collins were under investigation."

The application also seeks information on "the acceptance or receipt of any gift of benefit" including tickets to Vancouver Canucks and BC Lions games, Cirque de Soleil shows and other venues.

And it seeks all communications between lobby firm Pilothouse Public Affairs and its principals - key Crown witnesses Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran and expected witness Jamie Elmhirst - with cabinet ministers, MLAs and government staff.

Following Justice Elizabeth Bennett strong ruling Monday that ordered the RCMP and Special Prosecutor to disclose evidence not provided to the defence, Bennett directed the defence to attempt to obtain "third party" government documents it previously requested outside of the court process by filing a Freedom of Information Request or simply asking for a voluntary production of documents but left open the possibility of a court order.

Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough told Bennett after a break to consult with a lawyer for the provincial government that he was "very optimistic" the defence could obtain the information it seeks.

And outside court Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton said: "We're very pleased with today's result because we're going to get the disclosure we were seeking."

But the price of disclosure is delay. Justice Bennett directed both sides to appear July 16 for an update on progress and suggested the next stage in the case will not begin until August 13, when the disclosure application will be heard.

MUCH MORE ON THIS WEBSITE LATER TODAY AND IN 24 HOURS NEWSPAPER FRIDAY.


Posted by Bill Tieleman at 3:13 PM
Many thanks to Bill for generously sharing this with us. - BC Mary
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Comments:
. . . oh, but this is well worth the wait.
 
This is great, thanks Bill.

But what is the status of the 37 page "scathing" judgment that Justice Bennett delivered on Monday? Does anybody that wasn't there in Rm. 54 at the time ever get to know exactly what she said?
 
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