Thursday, December 06, 2007

 

B.C. legislature raid case mired in 'nested doll situation,' media lawyer says

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B.C. legislature raid case mired in 'nested doll situation,' media lawyer says

By Camille Bains
THE CANADIAN PRESS - December 6, 2007


VANCOUVER - A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled reporters and the public will be excluded from the courtroom during testimony from a police officer connected to the B.C. legislature raid case.

The officer is expected to testify that documents turned over to defence lawyers for former government officials facing several charges were censored to protect the identity of an informant.

Justice Elizabeth Bennett ruled Thursday that defence lawyers for Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi could remain in the courtroom if they promised to keep the information confidential.

But Bennett allowed the Crown to file a federal statutory certificate indicating it was necessary to conduct the hearing in secret, without defence lawyers.

Crown lawyer Janet Winteringham orally filed the certificate, saying defence lawyers must be excluded to protect the confidential informant's identity.

On Thursday afternoon, Bennett began hearing arguments from defence lawyers in a separate in-camera session to determine if they should be entitled to participate in a hearing to determine the legal validity of the certificate.

That hearing was also closed to the media.

"There's a secret hearing to determine whether the accused's counsel can attend another secret hearing," said Roger McConchie, a lawyer representing The Canadian Press and other media.

McConchie said the complex case that has already included several legal battles between Crown and defence lawyers is like a maze or "a nested doll situation."

"How far down is this series of nested in-camera dolls going to go?" McConchie said outside court. "This is the first time I've seen the nested doll syndrome go into operation."

He said the case is so mired in legal wrangling that a trial could be derailed.

If that happens, the public may never learn what led to the legislature raid on Dec. 28, 2003, when police carted away boxes of evidence from Basi and Virk's offices.

A recent Supreme Court of Canada decision gives judges the power to order closed hearings to avoid identifying confidential police informants.

Bennett is presiding over pre-trial hearings to discuss evidence for a corruption trial slated to begin next March involving the three former B.C. government officials.

Virk and Dave Basi are former ministerial aides charged with fraud and breach of trust connected to the $1-billion privatization of B.C. Rail in November 2003, which was followed a month later by a police raid on their legislature offices.

Aneal Basi, Dave Basi's cousin, was a government communications officer and is charged with money laundering in connection with the case.

The Crown alleges that between May 2002 and December 2003 Basi and Virk received benefits from lobbyists at a firm called Pilothouse Public Affairs Group in exchange for providing them with confidential government documents regarding the sale of B.C. Rail.

Pilothouse was representing OmniTRAX, an American company that was among the bidders for B.C. Rail.

The winning bidder was Canadian National Railway.

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Comments:
So is there word as to whether tomorrow's hearings will be in cameraq or not?
 
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Anon 9:00,

You've really hurt my feelings.

I posted that information ever so nicely for you and you didn't even look, did you. (sob)

Yes, there's a session tomorrow.

Yes, it's secret, public locked out.

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I think the knowledge that this is 'witness' is a police officer is interesting ...but that's about all.

He/she is there to help the crown make the case for protecting the identity of the informant...that's all.

This is pretty much in keeping with our speculation previously...the person who wants to remain anonymous (for reasons we've already speculated about) is still, I'm betting, the 'member of the public' of tip # 47.

Somehow or other, the universe is still unfolding as it should although the absence of any coverage of these important events in the Canwest Media is more and more shocking and irresponsible.

Almost as irresponsible as the suggestion that Gordon Campbell should be nominated as Nation Builder of the year in the Globe and Mail.

I'd urge anyone who cares about truth and the honest use of language in public discourse to send an email or a letter to the editors to protest that ABOMINATION.

While you're at it though, take the time to present them with a small bouquet for the coverage the Globe has provided of Basi and Virk.

The G & M may be a Toronto paper, but its coverage of BC issues is far better than anything the local dailies provide.
 
EXPRESS COLLISION SHOP SAID,

Police officer, wow!!!

Has anyone read that Cowan search warrant lately?

I agree with you and others on the lack of coverage by the media regarding this trial,however, there is plenty more we can do to expose this mess. Sometimes it's as easy as a phone call to an open line radio program or a short letter to the editor or letters page. As you all can tell my strong point is not writing. That does not stop me from making phone calls to the radio stations or letters to the editors. I have been on CKNW five times(with only six phone calls) on open line over the past 5 months. We also did the Michael Smyth show a few months back. Topics I brought up were MLA pay compensation,ICBC,Leg raids(2x) and the olympics. There is a simple rule when it comes to getting on the radio or letters page or even a column-Keep it Short,Direct,No Rant's and on Topic(easier said than done on this mess).

When you are talking to a reporter or assignment editor you have about three seconds to hook them(a query). Reporters hear plenty of news and stories every day and the trick is to hook them immediatly. Then if not successful be persistent, but not annoying. E mails are the best way to contact reporters. Do your homework, many times you will have to write the story for them. Find out who is the assignment editor and email them. I have learned over the last 8 years and over two hundred interviews and newspaper articles that when I stopped ranting,we were successful in the media.

Keep up the good work all you concerned bloggers.
 
EC Shop,

Excellent tutorial, many thanks!

Thanks, too, for your phone-in calls to talk about the Legislature raids.

This is crunch-time. There's homework to be done, and reaching out to be tried. Can't leave everything to the boneheads we so trustingly elected to do it all for us.

Thanks again, EC. Onward!

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G West,

Bless you, but that's damning with faint praise.

Imho, The Globe and Mail has turned a blind eye to everything that's hurting British Columbia.

As the national paper of record, and having their own reporters in B.C., G&M could do a whole heap better.

Simply to be better than the no-show, don't-give-a-damn-CanWest gang is to be nowhere at all on the Acceptability scale.

Did you notice any CanWest journos in that short-list of 4 people who attended yesterday's Supreme Court session (where allowed) on the BCRail Case? Nooo-o-o-o.

Sorry, dear G, but when I wrote to the G&M Letters Editor before breakfast this morning, I told them their ignorance of my home province was outrageous. OUTrageous.

Normally, I don't use words like that. But really.

I'll be delighted to thank them when they step up on the side of the public interest in B.C., not as part of what tore BCRail out of our hands. Let them step up to protest the tearing apart of BC's rivers from us, tearing our forests from us. With Drugs trafficking our major industry, how great is that, Mr Nation-Builder?

Sheesh. Help me to my rocking chair.

To think I was barely simmering down from the Tree Farm Licence betrayal before we are hit with The Globe and Mail's nomination of Premier Campbell for their "Nation Builder of the Year" ... before breakfast! Don't get me started.

I'm TRYING to maintain this blog as a non-partisan discussion/study place. My only excuse, this morning, is that it wouldn't matter what political party did these things (like giving away the TFLs to real estate development, not to mention the Run-of-the-Rivers, BCRail), I'd be furiously angry with them. OK?

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Well (blush) I gotta show you this. It made me feel better about my display of unseemly rage, mentioned above. This comes from the Oceanside Coalition on Vancouver Island, for which I thank them immensely:



Hi all --- You will want to read a great letter written to the Globe&Mail by BC Mary. WELL DONE, MARY. It's a masterpiece.

Best,
Berni



To: letters@globeandmail.com ; newsroom@globeandmail.com
Sent: Friday, December 07, 2007 7:19 AM
Subject: Gordon Campbell as ... whaat??

Gordon Campbell as Nation Builder of the Year? No, no, NO!

The Globe and Mail is playing a cruel joke on British Columbia!

"He came to office on a platform ..." that promised he wouldn't sell B.C. Rail, Canada's 3rd largest railway. He sold it under an agreement which remains secret, and which is the subject of Criminal Case #23299 in B.C. Supreme Court.

He has dismantled the BC Health Care system. There are scandals in every Seniors' Reidence.

His Ministry of Children and Families is an ongoing horror.

Schools are closing or are underfunded.

His Ministry of Forests has just made the biggest, most unconscionable giveaway of PUBLIC Lands (Tree Farm Licences) into private developer' pockets. Historically, these lands were held virtually sacred, in trust, as the foundation industry throughout B.C. Now gone! Nation Builder, you say?

BC Hydro has been crippled and made hostage to foreign corporations for the power British Columbians need in future. The run of EVERY river in B.C. has been given to them, with BC Hydro forced to buy back from them. Nation builder?

Fish farms, offshore oil exploration, whatever Cut-and-Run scheme the Campbell government can devise, it's a go.

Oh. And did I mention Organized Crime? And the cutbacks on police budgets? The stonewalling?

Much more could be said. But I hope you get the preview.

It's bad enough that my home province gets so little serious coverage in your esteemed newspaper. But to display such monumental ignorance of B.C. as to nominate THIS man for NATION builder ... does The Globe a real dishonour.

PROVINCE WRECKER OF THE DECADE, more like it.

BC Mary.

And by the way, if you think his party is Liberal, it isn't. That, too, is fake. Campbell's Gang is made up of former Socreds, former Reform, Alliance, P.C., and a few Liberals. People call them LINO, or Liberal in Name Only.

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Funny, I don't see the word "outrageous" there. Must've imagined it.
 
Damning with faint praise indeed - and very well done Mary.

To be an example of marginally-decent coverage of the affairs of this province in print, the Globe certainly doesn't have to raise itself from the prone position very much, if at all.

The competition, as it were, amounts to nothing...Even so, my generous nature tells me that - leavened with a little praise, applying the lash for that nonsense about Campbell might sting all the more.

Tactics Mary, just tactics.
 
Who nominated him anyway?

Couldn't have been Gary Mason could it?

Nice letter Mary.
 
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