Friday, December 07, 2007

 

Basi-Virk B.C. Rail case grows messier all the time - Paul Willcocks



Paul Willcocks
Times Colonist

The Basi-Virk corruption case is turning into a colossal mess, one that could be as damaging for the government and the legal system as the Vancouver airport Taser death has been for the RCMP.

Almost four years have passed since the police swept into the legislature and carted away documents related to the $1-billion B.C. Rail sale.

The RCMP said the raids were linked to an organized-crime investigation.

Since then, there have been a lot of questions and few answers. For four years, the case has crawled through the court system.

Now, with the trial scheduled for March, secret hearings are planned for the B.C. Supreme Court, apparently on whether evidence from a police informant should be heard in secrecy.

Even the defence lawyers are to be excluded from the hearing, although that ruling will likely be appealed.

The long wait is increasing the risk that the charges against Dave Basi and Bob Virk will be dropped because of unreasonable delays. Both men -- innocent at this point, remember -- have had this cloud hanging over them and their families for four years. It is unreasonable.

Let's pause for a brief recap. Basi was a pretty big deal in the Liberal government, senior aide to then finance minister Gary Collins and heavily involved in federal Liberal politics. Virk was the main political aide to former transportation minister Judith Reid.

The Crown alleges they were bribed to leak confidential information to one of the bidders for B.C. Rail. (The sale was already controversial, since it broke a Liberal campaign promise.)

Prosecutors are going to rely on the testimony of Erik Bornman, also a federal Liberal and a lobbyist, who will say he was the person delivering the bribes. He hasn't been charged.

There are a mountain of side issues, all significant, many that could be politically embarrassing.

There have been suggestions Basi was acting on government orders and allegations of political dirty trick campaigns run with the knowledge of the premier's office. Much more is likely to come out if the case goes to trial.

And the court has found the RCMP and the Crown failed to disclose evidence that should have been provided to the defence long ago. The Crown prosecutor also tried to keep search warrant information -- usually public -- secret and wanted details of its deal with Bornman sealed.

The case has sparked a whole lot of conspiracy theories, none of which I buy.

But the way it has been conducted has slowed the search for answers, obstructed Basi's and Virk's ability to defend themselves and created a real chance the entire case will be tossed out of court.

There have been questions about the choice of the special prosecutor.

Politically sensitive cases in B.C. are handled by outside lawyers, not the Crown prosecutors employed by the Attorney General's Ministry.

The special prosecutors are appointed by the assistant deputy minister from a list created in consultation with the Law Society of B.C. It's a good system, one that reduces any real or apparent conflict of interest that would result in government employees making decisions on cases that could involve their political masters.

Vancouver lawyer Bill Berardino got the call in this case. And while he is considered a top commercial litigator, Berardino spends little time in criminal courts. His firm's website lists 24 "representative cases" on his bio page. Only one is a criminal case -- and it's from 21 years ago. {Snip} ...

For whatever reason, Berardino and the prosecution team have failed to fulfil their obligations to disclose potentially relevant documents, drawing a sharp rebuke from Justice Elizabeth Bennett and orders to do better.

Now the prosecutor is trying to use a two-month-old Supreme Court of Canada ruling to argue for secret testimony from a witness, presumably a police informant who wishes to keep his identity hidden.

The end to all this is nowhere in sight.

If the trial goes ahead in the spring, expect a lot of problems for the Liberal government, no matter what the outcome.

And if doesn't, expect even more questions about what went wrong -- and unavoidable demands for a public inquiry.

pwillcocks@tc.canwest.com

Full story at:
http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/comment/story.html?id=b4a30ad9-9f46-436f-bca1-b9eb252f1e99

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Noted in passing, on Salt Spring News:
What the Canadian Press didn't say about RailGate
The Gazetteeer -- December 7, 2007

... Regardless, if the average member of the public knew that there is a very real possibility that bribery-fueled secret deals were used to grease the wheels of a rigged sale of public assets to a hand-picked private sector company** in perpetuity (and/or 990 years, which ever comes first), don't you think that he or she would feel very differently about this thing? I do.

**Which also turns out to be a formerly public, now private, company that has donated about $150,000 to the BC Liberal Party since the current premier, Mr. Gordon Campbell, became its leader. Interestintly, it is also a company that, along with its chairman, Mr. David McLean, just keeps on giving .


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Comments:
Mary, your paranoia has no bounds. I doubt the basi boys are playing with your website. In case you haven't noticed its the defence lawyers arguing not for a secret trial that would suit the powers to be but full public access to every facet of this bizzare and twisted case. If you have any further doubts just re-read the submission by defence lawyers that resulted in the monumental decision on June 4/07. I visit this website for information and lively educated debate of important issues. I view your blog as a vehicle that is searching for the truth. The only people who are fighting like to hell to avoid the truth are the special prosecutor, the rcmp and their boss campbell.

There are a lot of people who have a lot to lose. I wouldn't doubt these people were also behind the break in at Tielemans office.
 
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Anon 6:37, you're handing out psychological analyses today?

I'd like it better if you asked me what happened a year ago. You already know? And have discounted it?

Anyway, thanks for the kindly things you say about this web-site.

It's human nature, I guess, to wonder about things like the break-in at Bill Tieleman's office.

And then to wonder about other strange happenings. As I said, I'm not much worried despite people telling me I should watch my back and have Spyware and a bodyguard and things like that.

Fact is: I could re-start this blog from scratch within a couple of hours, if need be.

Question for you: why do you suppose BC's daily newspapers have said virtually nothing about Bill's break-in? Wouldn't you think that professional media colleagues would immediately show public concern when violence attempts to enforce media silence?


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Mary,

Most of the Basi boys don't know how to use a computer let alone hack into one.

If you check other blogs on Google and Blogger you will note that many are having problems with losing information, emails and data.
 
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Good morning, 8:46, and thanks for offering reassurance.

I understand what you mean about generalized blogger, ISP, or Google problems. But it wasn't like that.

The formating problem was only mentioned because readers may see some oddities, which I wanted to explain.

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better to be paranoid (Cautious) than not. and althought the Basi boys may not know how to hack, and how one would arrive at that conclusion is beyond me. internet tampeing is common
 
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Anonymous 11:16, I do appreciate what you said. Thanks a lot.


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Mary, get over to Canada.com and check out the lead story. The OPP are about to charge Ottowa Mayor Larry O'Brien under section 121 of the CCC. The same charges as in the Leg Raid Case. Lets just see how much press this one gets vs the Leg Raids.
 
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Thanks, gary e. I did that. The charges are still pending.

CanWest has made me so cynical, I am now wondering why charges are being trumpeted like the end of the world before police have even done the charging.

Must google O'Brien and see if I can find out.
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Hi Mary

The way I read the article was that they had a tip that the OPP was going to charge him. After I read your comment I thought I'd go back an re read it. Guess what? It was pulled from the canada.com website. I googled O'Brien and found the article still on the Ottowa Citizen website. Which brings me to the paranoia comments above. When something like this happens I don't think it's coincidence. And it has happened before.
 
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Gary E, have I ever told you how much your voice is appreciated on this web-site? Because it is, very much so.

That was a good exercise in Black Media (no, not Conrad, not David, but black black).

Thank you for that.


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