Monday, July 02, 2007


Getting to know you ...

As we count the days until the next Supreme Court hearing on HMTQ vs Basi Virk Basi, expected in Vancouver Supreme Courtroom 54 on Monday July 16, it might serve us well to know more about the primary players in this case. Information will be added, as time goes on. Today: Judge Bennett. - BC Mary.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Madam Elizabeth Bennett
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

... Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the Supreme Court of British Columbia heard two of the most politically-charged corruption trials in the province's history.

In 2007, she began proceedings on the Basi-Virk Affair where the Minister of Finance's politically-appointed assistant was charged with the sale of benefits related to the province's sale of BC Rail, the publicly-owned railway. The scandal came to public attention when news media filmed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) conducting a search warrant [28 Dec 2003] inside the BC Legislature building. The trial is ongoing.

On August 29, 2002 she acquitted former Premier Glen Clark of all criminal charges related to home renovations and other personal benefits received from a constituent, Dimitrios Pilarinos, who was applying for a casino license. The judge said Clark exercised poor judgement but ruled that "there is nothing in his conduct that crosses the line from an act of folly to behaviour calling for criminal sanctions." [1] The ruling came five years and a day after her appointment to the Supreme Court on August 28,1997. The "Casinogate" scandal came to public attention when news media filmed the RCMP conducting a search warrant inside the private home of the then-Premier.

Justice Bennett also co-authored the 2006 revisions for a guide for judges on giving instructions to the jury, the Canadian Criminal Jury Instructions (CRIMJI) — Fourth Edition ISBN 1-55258-456-9.

When Vancouver's Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium challenged Canada Customs' power, Judge Bennett ordered the federal government to pay the small Vancouver gay bookstore hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund a constitutional challenge to the power of Canadian customs to seize and censor imported material. It was the first application of a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling, known as Okanagan Indian Band, beyond the context of aboriginal rights. "It paves the way for a new era of litigation by individuals and groups that could not otherwise shoulder the massive costs of constitutional litigation," said The Globe and Mail.

This is a very brief summary of Judge Bennett's remarkable career, but this decision must have been one of her most difficult:

On Feb 21, 2005, a BC Supreme Court ordered John Graham to be extradited to S.Dakota to stand trial for the 1975 murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash. The formal order for extradition was given March 2. The defense will launch a constitutional challenge against the Extradition Act itself.

In making her decision, Judge Elizabeth Bennett noted the numerous errors in the US case, but stated that under the Extradition Act her primary task is limited to establishing the identity of the prisoner. Under amendments made in 1999, a Canadian judge cannot evaluate the evidence submitted by US authorities. On Feb. 21, 2005, defence lawyers argued that the decision to extradite Graham to the U.S. by B.C. Supreme Court Judge Elizabeth Bennett must be revisited because it came before the landmark July 21, 2006, Ferras decision, which he said changes Bennett's "very, very narrow interpretation of her role and jurisdiction." While Bennett, in handing down the extradition order stated: "the evidence in my view has been presented in a most unsatisfactory manner" but Canada's extradition law did not entitle her to question evidence from the U.S.

Elizabeth Bennett was educated at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia Law School. She served with the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves, 6th Field Engineer Squadron. She was appointed to the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada on June 23,1999.[2]


Just found your blog and look forward to learning more about the Basi Boys and the investigation into political wrongdoing.

This was a very interesting post, I've just recently been introduced to the saga of Anna Mae Pictou and Of Mr. Graham. The information you supplied was very valuable to me, thanks!
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