Wednesday, December 12, 2007

 

Rail-Gate-A-Go-Go

TheReturnOfHSTFridays(early)***
LedgeRaidVille

....It Was A Nice Place. They Were Principled People, Generally*

"(T)here are a hundred or more people wandering around Washington today who have heard 'the real stuff' , as they put it - and despite their professional caution when the obvious question arises, there is one reaction they all feel free to agree on: that nobody who felt shocked, depressed or angry after reading the edited (Nixon) White House Transcripts should ever be allowed to hear the actual (Watergate) tapes, except under heavy sedation or locked in the trunk of a car. Only a terminal cynic, they say, can listen for any length of time to the real stuff without feeling a compulsion to do something like drive down to the White House and throw a bag of live rats over the fence."
Fear and Loathing In Washington: The Boys In The Bag
Hunter S. Thompson, RS #164, July 4, 1974



So, in the case of British Columbia's Rail Gate, what might the 'real stuff' be?

Well, it looks like maybe, just maybe, we got a brief peek at it yesterday.

First, from Bill Tieleman's eyewitness, almost real time, report:

The defence also alleged that Chris Trumpy, then Deputy Minister of Revenue to then-Finance Minister Gary Collins, was in a conflict of interest situation because of his multiple roles in both the sale of BC Rail and as Chair of the BC Investment Management Corporation, which held over $360 million in CN Rail shares at the time.

And defence counsel criticized BC government attempts to block disclosure of 17 documents to the accused based on solicitor-client privilege by revealing they had previously received two of the documents through a Freedom Of Information request filed separately two years ago.

So from that, we take it that the defence is alleging that a then deputy minister named Chris Trumpy, who worked for now long-gone Finance Minister Gary Collins, was in conflict of interest during the negotiation of the BC Rail sale to the CN. Additionally, the defense is alleging that the government is actually trying to block the disclosure of documents for no good reason at all given that they continue to try and block the disclosure of stuff that has already been released under an FOI request.

So, what might those two released documents have been about (ie. are they part of the the real stuff)?

Well, for that we go to yesterday's more cryptic, but still valuable, report from the Canadian Press:

"The Freedom-of-Information documents McCullough obtained include a Dec. 18, 2003, e-mail from Trumpy to Virk and others on the B.C. Rail evaluation team and a Dec. 19, 2003, e-mail to Trumpy from a lawyer titled "Advice to Trumpy re conflict."

So, two interesting things there.....

First, Mr. Trumpy appears to have been in contact with co-accused Mr. Robert Virk (who at the time worked for then Transportation Minister Judith Reid).

Second, the government and/or Mr. Trumpy may have been concerned about a conflict issue just nine days BEFORE the raid on the Legislature occurred.

So, knowing all that, what did then Finance Minister Collins have to say about Mr. Trumpy AFTER the raid?

For that we take you back to a media scrum with Mr. Collins in Nov 2004 that took place just after the RailGate search warrants were unsealed. We have this invaluable public record/transcript due to the yeoman's work of Sean Holman the proprietor of Public Eye :

Media: Don't you think government has (a) responsibility to take a look into these things to make sure processes that are currently in place...?

Minister Collins: But we did many things. The B.C. Rail file - we assigned one of our most senior and respected civil servants to lead that: Chris Trumpy. You all know who he is and his reputation is held in the highest regard by everyone. He was the one working on that.

Oh, and just so you know, Mr. Collins also reportedly said this during that infamous scrum:

Minister Collins: Government is not doing an investigation. That's not our role. The investigators are doing their investigation. So we're not out there looking into any allegations that might be contained in there. There are people who do that. That's their job. They're doing that now. And when they're finished doing their job we'll all now about it.

Which is strange, don't you think, given how hard the government is now working to make sure we know nothing about anything.

Anyway, getting back to Mr. Trumpy......What might have been in that alleged Email that he sent to the co-accused Mr. Virk just BEFORE the Ledge Raids (ie. on Dec 18th, 2003) but AFTER the main line deal with CN had already gone down (ie. on November 25th, 2003)?

Well, for that we return to Bill Tieleman's updated eyewitness, almost real time, report:

(Robert Virk's defense counsel Kevin) McCullough later quoted from a December (18th) 2003 email from Chris Trumpy regarding the BC Rail Roberts Bank Sub Port privatization - a bid that was later cancelled after the RCMP advised the government it had learned the process had been compromised.

"I am stepping out of the evaluation process for the Sub Port until such time as I have received advice on a real or perceived conflict," McCullough said Trumpy wrote.


Now, this is important because the Roberts Bank privatization was, allegedly, a critical part of a purported 'quid pro quo' deal** that may have been the back-end plan for OmniTRAX, the railway company that lost the big deal with CN but stayed in all the way to provide competitive bid cover.

In other words OmniTRAX, presumably with Mr. Virk's and/or Mr. Basi's 'help' may have been angling for and/or perhaps even promised the Roberts Bank Sub Port deal in return .

Now, if Messrs Virk and Basi really and truly were just acting as off-the-rail, lonesome cowboys in their dealings with OmniTRAX, why was Mr. Trumpy, who was, according to then Minister Collins, the government's most trusted 'lead' man on the B.C. Rail file, communicating with Mr. Virk about this and suddenly going all conflicty on a deal that apparently heavily involved OmniTRAX (ie. not CN, which is where there may have been a legitimate EARLIER conflict - see top of post) just days before the Ledge Raid?

Then again, perhaps we shouldn't worry our silly heads about any of this.

After all, they all really do seem like such principled people, generally.

And if the British Columbia government that used to employ Mr. Collins would just let us see the rest of the 'real stuff' maybe we could make up our minds for sure.

OK?

______
*A quote from Robert C. Odle, office administrator for the Committee to Re-elect the President (a.k.a. 'CREEP') in the age of Nixon.

**The so-called 'Consolation Prize' that the Basi/Virk defenses have been fussing about recently.

***HST Fridays: This is an old bit we used to do 'round here [Pacific Gazette] in an effort to resurrect some of the old writings of the guy who we consider to have been the first real blogger (on an IBM Selectric, of course). Most of the posts are archived on the sidebar on the left, at the bottom, under the heading 'Res Ipsa.....No More' which is an old Thompson joke (sort of).

g west, in the comments, brings up an important point - it is entirely possible that Mr. Trumpy saw there was, indeed a conflict, and really was trying to do the right thing. I do not disagree that this is a distinct possibility and by framing all of this in the form of questions I hope that folks can see that I am not attempting to rule that possiblity out here. The point is - in the absence of the evidence that Mr. Collins alluded to, there is no way we can know, one way or the other.

For the record - this post has also been taken over to Mary's place so that the Anon-O-Mice can chew on it a little.

The 'real stuff' has been re-named the 'smoking gun' by the defense has gone post-VSun NaPo. Looks like, perhaps, the media times they just might-be-a-changin'.


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Well done, Gazetteer!

Big Thank You to RossK for permission to share your Pacific Gazette posts.

- BC Mary.

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Comments:
Express Collision Shop said,

CONFLICTY !

Gazetteer, Thank you. This article is one of the best I have read in the past few years. You did your homework on this one. Conflicty-I like that one. Again, I keep checking them off the list. Chris Trumpy hmmmmmmm
 
ECS--

A few additional tidbits tacked on to the original post over at my place, if you're interested.

.
 
All the links are there too....

For those with a hankering, the entire media scrum transcript from Mr. Holman is worth going over.

.
 
Express Collision Shop adds,

Brian Kieran to Erik Bornmann:"Get Omnitrax together with the new CEO of Partnerships B.C....."

from that # 2 email about Paul Taylor and his wife giving Kieran directions regarding Omnitrax. "Paul says all partnerships with government including BCR will be funded by Partnerships(B.C.)We'll put this together next week."

Date of email January 27,2003.

Whats up with that?
 
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