Sunday, December 30, 2007

 

2008 issues that could rattle B.C.

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2008 WILL SEE TWO KEY COURT ISSUES THAT COULD RATTLE B.C.

EDITORIAL
Ian Mulgrew
Vancouver Sun - Published: Sunday, December 30, 2007

Early in the new year, two of this year's biggest legal battles will be back in the headlines - one with a verdict, the other with the next round of bare-knuckled legal brawling.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge before Christmas let both sides know they should expect a ruling in the landmark civil trial over ownership of the Vancouver Canucks by Jan. 7 at the earliest.

Her thoughtful advance notice meant the lawyers and three wealthy families involved in the massive lawsuit for GM Place and the NHL franchise could holiday in peace.

If she's that close to a verdict, it also indicates that since mid-October, she has motored through volumes of documents and quickly processed the five months of evidence heard during the epic trial. {Snip, snip, snip!!!} ... Jeez!!

Justice Wedge would create an incredible stir if she agreed with the plaintiffs in this action. But we'll know soon enough. Similarly, her colleague on the high trial bench, Justice Elizabeth Bennett, will be back in the news, refereeing the province's other heavyweight courtroom bout.

After lumbering along through another 12 months of skirmishes involving disclosure issues, the criminal prosecution of Liberal political aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk [and Aneal Basi] soon resumes.

It's been four years since police raided the legislature on Dec. 28, 2003, carting away boxes of documents and tarnishing the government's integrity. We are still in the dark.

Organized crime, the RCMP said, had perhaps infiltrated the highest levels of the Liberal administration and may have compromised the $1-billion sale of BC Rail. It has cost taxpayers millions, but no more light has been shed on the circumstances or culpability - criminal or otherwise. Lots of smoke, charges of conflict of interest, insinuations of cabinet involvement, all of which keeps the truth murky and hidden.

Although Victoria promised to cooperate with the investigation, it has blocked the release of many documents, citing executive and solicitor-client privilege.

Defence lawyers were in court a few weeks ago seeking greater access and the right to grill government secretaries about what Premier Gordon Campbell knew. Aside from those issues, there is a witness who wants to testify in secret. There is much to be resolved.

Again, we'll soon see whether Justice Bennett can get this train wreck righted over the coming weeks and the central public proceedings under way by March as hoped.

Aside from the bitter wrangling interrupted by the Christmas break, there are looming constitutional challenges that may yet be invoked by the defence.

One, over the delay and the damage it has done to Basi's and Virk's right to a fair trial. And a second over the disclosure fight and the damage it has done to their right to be able to fully respond to the charges. [What about Aneal?? - BC Mary]

As I said last year - don't hold your breath: This marathon may end with a whimper rather than a bang.

imulgrew@png.canwest.com

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=057ed2cc-ec0b-48e7-b19c-530ab6788067&k=30304

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Comments:
Perhaps the problem with this trial is that Basi isn't being charged for his alleged involvement with organized crime, he's being charged with his alleged involvement with the BCRail sail. What if he's guilty of the former but innocent of the later?
 
What really stuck out for me and made me laugh was "Justice Elizabeth Bennett, will be back in the news,". Whose news? Certainly not the Vancouver Sun nor the Province whose coverage has been virtually non-existant. What a joke.
 
Geez, this kind of stuff drives me crazy!

Mr. Mulgrew sets the table by telling us all the really big, big things that this 'trial' involves then, at the end, he just tells us to 'nevermind'.

Goldarnit - why doesn't he and his get the heck out there and dig?

For starters..... why aren't the principals, the ones who HAVE NOT been charged with anything, being hounded to the ends of the earth (or at the very least Pender Island) by people with notebooks, microphones and cameras demanding to hear their side of the story.

I mean, it's not as if their names are not on the public record or anything.

Sheesh.

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