Wednesday, July 30, 2008


ICBC scandal remains concealed by Liberals' all-purpose stonewall

One of the last publicly-owned assets in British Columbia -- the Insurance Corporation of B.C. -- was the most vulnerable to privatization by the new 79-member, fiercely anti-New Democrat government elected in 2001. Why didn't that happen? Why wasn't ICBC instantly privatized when the Campbell Gang took over?

It was no secret that private insurance hated ICBC. No secret that the new Premier danced to the tune of private corporate interests. Knowing this caused many people to wonder how ICBC -- the jewel of a hated former government's legislation -- had escaped such powerful hostility. How had ICBC alone survived all Campbell threats of privatization, while other public assets like BCRail, BC Ferries, BC Gas, BC Hydro (and more) had toppled so quickly?

Could it have been the very fact that ICBC was vulnerable with its province-wide car/truck world? Could it have been that unscrupulous people understood that scams could be inserted into ICBC's evaluations, its repair shops, its auctions, its record-keeping and accounting? And that ICBC might be made to provide its own cover-story? Is that why the Campbell government allowed its continued existence under government control?

The basic questions need to be asked -- why was ICBC allowed to survive when BC Hydro, etc., were not? By what criteria were some public assets gotten rid of, while another is kept?

Because, as we read Vaughn Palmer's columns, we can detect some disturbingly familiar patterns. - BC Mary.


ICBC scandal remains concealed by Liberals' all-purpose stonewall

Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun -- Wednesday, July 30, 2008

VICTORIA - Dropped by the cabinet meeting Tuesday, seeking answers about the Insurance Corp. of B.C.

Ran smack dab into a stonewall erected by cabinet-minister-for-ICBC John van Dongen.

Was any compensation paid to anyone who left the employ of ICBC as a result of the scandal at the research centre?

"I can't comment on personnel matters," replied van Dongen. "There's a body of law around that."

Can't comment for legal reasons. That has become the all-purposes refuge for B.C. Liberals in this, their seventh year in office.

But why can't the minister provide a global figure for compensation?

"ICBC did whatever they felt they needed to do under the circumstances."

Does he approve of a government corporation paying compensation in a scandal like this one?

"I believe that they did whatever they could do and needed to do under the circumstances."

Cannot he as minister give a full accounting to the public of what happened here?

"I don't believe I can do that," he replied. "If I could, legally, I would like to do that. But I don't believe that I can disclose any more than ICBC can in terms of personnel issues."

The minister would like to tell all. He really would. But it is a personnel matter and his hands -- and tongue -- are tied by all the legal advice he's been getting.

I was marvelling at the convenience of this line of defence to a government determined to avoid further embarrassment for a scandal on its watch, when a colleague raised a follow-up question.

{Snip} ...

Should the public be satisfied by a response that discloses next to nothing?

"Personnel matters are covered by freedom of information and privacy issues," the minister explained.

"There is also litigation going on on this issue -- that has been publicly filed -- and I can't make any further comments on it."

So should the public be satisfied with the accounting they've been given?

"PricewaterhouseCoopers reviewed all of the actions of ICBC. They made a full accounting to the public. I think maybe we'd like to disclose more but we're doing -- we're disclosing whatever we legally can."

He thinks "maybe" the Liberals would like to disclose more. I think maybe that is the last thing they would like to do. You decide.

Strikes me, too, that this, the biggest scandal in ICBC's 35-year history, has done more damage to the image of the government-owned auto insurance corporation than any attack mounted by critics in the private sector.

Was anyone punished for it? I asked van Dongen. Did anyone pay any price at all?

"I can't comment on that. As ICBC has said, anyone who was in the line of authority -- that had responsibility for the [research] facility -- is no longer with the organization."

That's been the line, all right. Those responsible are no longer with the organization. But not a word about whether they were paid to go away.

One more try: We had a ferry sinking two years ago. We know the names of the people who were on the bridge, know, too, that they were fired.

Why does ICBC get special treatment, when, in a ferry accident that claimed two lives, we know the names of the people who were held accountable. Why the secrecy for ICBC?

"I don't know that we know everything about the ferries," he ventured.

Well, at least we know the names of the people on the bridge that fateful night.

"I'm relying on the legal advice that I've been given, that ICBC has been given," he said, resuming shelter behind that all-bases-covered legal opinion.

"As I said, there are matters in front of the courts right now involving employees in the line of authority of the [research] facility -- that are in litigation . . . . There is a police investigation going on as well."

Van Dongen made several references to litigation.

Presumably he was thinking of the lawsuit, brought by a former ICBC vice-president, who claims he was made a "scapegoat" for this scandal.

The departed executive is seeking $100,000 in bonus pay and damages atop an admitted severance payout of $300,000, which does tend to confirm that at least some compensation was paid out in this affair.

Was the minister thinking of that case when he referred to litigation?

"No comment," he replied, bringing the scrum to an end and heading off to join his colleagues around the cabinet table.

Van Dongen referred to "matters" before the courts and litigation involving "employees." Were there other lawsuits, as yet unpublicized, involving disgruntled ex-ICBC employees?

No, it turns out. In using the plural, the minister misspoke himself.

His staff says he is not aware of any other litigation arising out of his affair.

Mind, even if he were aware, he wouldn't be able to comment, because . . . well, you know the rest.

I'd like to thank Vaughn Palmer and The Vancouver Sun for these ICBC stories. We may argue that it's too little, too late. We may say that a partisan media has contributed to the problem. But now is now, and the old saying is: "Better late than never." It would be unthinkable, really, that Palmer and the Mainstream Media would never catch on ... and would never raise these questions. Heaven forbid. So, thank you, Vaughn, and Kirk. Just keep the stories coming, OK? - BC Mary.


Monday, July 28, 2008


BC Rail court charade


Ian Mulgrew
Vancouver Sun - Monday, July 28, 2008

Victoria lawyer Kevin McCullough looked as if he wasn't sure whether to fulminate or tap-dance as another make-work hearing over the unprecedented and infamous 2003 raid on the B.C. legislature wound down.

"I'm not being critical," the senior defence lawyer tentatively said as he moved to the lectern.

He didn't get any further.

"That's my ruling," B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett shot from the bench, "and I'm not changing it! This is the only way this can be analysed under the case law."

She had decided key provincial cabinet documents protected by a cloak of privilege could be shared with the defence without her having to rule on whether the curtain of secrecy will be ultimately lifted on them.

{Snip} ...

Justice Bennett maintained she understood the public's concern and need to know what happened in this case, but well, you see, there were processes.

Fair enough; she should also understand why everyone's patience is threadbare.

Justice Bennett looked as if she were treading water Friday, like someone awaiting a legal life-preserver -- perhaps a Supreme Court of Canada decision against the Crown that will result in a stay of proceedings or the expiration of the looming deadline of the right of an accused to fair and speedy justice.

The raid on the legislature is fading into memory -- five years this December -- and the trial remains a will-o'-the-wisp. Who even remembers the billion-dollar BC Rail privatization auction that triggered it? The concern about ties to former prime minister Paul Martin's federal Liberal campaign machine? Paul Martin?

Justice Bennett accomplished little with her ruling on roughly 90 jealously protected e-mails and correspondence seized by police from government offices and computers.

Former Liberal insiders and government aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, accused of corruption in connection with the sale of BC Rail assets in 2003, now are receiving copies of those documents. After interminable squabbling, the government agreed to allow the defence to have copies of the documents on the condition cabinet's claim of lawyer-client privilege remain in place.

Justice Bennett agreed with that idea.

The cabinet and BC Rail, she said, don't want their cooperation to "come back and haunt them" so it was important to keep the documents beyond public purview and access-to-information requests. The defence can't do anything with the material, Justice Bennett added, unless the government and BC Rail waive their privilege or the accused persuade her a document is crucial to determining guilt or innocence.

"At this juncture at least, you have the documents," she told the lawyers. "At least you are in a better position to ascertain their usefulness. I've read the documents and I can anticipate to some degree what's going to be used in open court."

McCullough, who is Virk's lawyer, and Michael Bolton, Basi's lawyer, both nodded. They, too, are familiar with the material: Their clients authored most of it, which is part of the irony of this ongoing charade. Two documents alone are likely relevant, they have told the court, and another may be critical.

The only people in the dark here are the public.

Virk, who was an aide to then-transportation minister Judith Reid, and Basi, Collins's right-hand man, know what happened; the Liberals know what happened; the cops and the special prosecutor, presumably, know what happened.

But the rest of us are being treated like mushrooms.

With special prosecutor Bill Berardino off to the Supreme Court of Canada to protect his star witness, which will certainly continue to delay and possibly derail the trial, who knows when we will see the light? Even before then, the defence may successfully halt the process because of the length of time it is taking.

Years ago these accusations of political corruption were the talk of the town and fuelled fears that organized crime had infiltrated the highest echelons of provincial power. In spite of such rhetoric and more, the substance has yet to emerge.

The lawyers will be back spinning their wheels Sept. 17.

One of the more notorious examples of bribery in Canadian history
took place in the 1950s in the province of British Columbia. Robert
Sommers, then Minister of Lands and Forests of British Columbia,
was charged in 1953 with receiving bribes in connection with the issuance of
forestry management licences. The licences were issued to forestry
companies to regulate the amount of timber that could be harvested.
These licences were extremely valuable, so much so that companies
were accused of making huge profits based on the sale of shares issued
after the licence was granted, but before a single tree had been cut.

These companies made substantial donations to the coffers of Premier
W.A.C. Bennett's new-fangled Social Credit Party.

It was considered a long drawn-out affair, with the premier trying every tactic including election calls, to protect his Minister of Forests or to delay the inevitable. Even in those days before the Charter of Rights when trials moved more quickly, it was 5 years before the Sommers case was closed.

A number of representatives from forestry companies were eventually charged with giving bribes, and Sommers was charged with receiving bribes. Under the intensive public scrutiny of the media, the case was prosecuted over a lengthy period with prolonged political and legal wrangling in the Legislative Assembly and the courts. Eventually, after 5 years, Sommers was convicted on five of the seven accusations of receiving bribes, including $607 worth of rugs, $3,000 in bonds, $1,000 in cash and $2,500 sent by telegraph.

As a result, Robert E. Sommers became the first person in the Commonwealth found guilty of conspiring to accept bribes while serving as a Minister of the Crown.

And if I remember BC history correctly: those Clayoquot forest management licences were renewed without question when their terms expired. In my view, a serious wrong could have been reviewed, renegotiated, and corrected, at that juncture. - BC Mary.



A taxi? Doing business as BC Rail?

Noted in passing: It seems there's a taxi running up and down Highway 16 doing business as BC Rail.

On March 4, 2005, their Application was signed by the Passenger Transportation Panel Chair, David McLean*. No mention of BC Rail.

On March 5, 2008, a Special Authorization was signed by William Bell, Board Panel Chair. The same applicant but this time,
identified as "dba British Columbia Railway contract".

Excerpts tell us:

Page 1
Application Decision
Application: 3304-07

Trade Name:
British Columbia Railway Contract

966 5th Avenue, Prince George BC V2L 3K8

BHANGOO, Balraj Singh
BHANGU, Gurbir
PANNU, Balbir S.
PAWAR, Narinder Singh

Current PT Licence:
The applicant has special authorization to operate passenger directed vehicles. This can be viewed in the PT Board Bulletin of March 16, 2005 at www.ptboard. bc .ca/ptb/bulletins.htm .

Amendment of Licence (PDV)
(Section 31 of the Passenger Transportation Act)

Proposed replacement of Return Trip authority with Reverse Trip authority for
Service 1 (respecting railway contract service)

The application was published in the PT Board Bulletin on February 6, 2008 .

Application Matters:
The Board views taxicabs as complementary to the public transportation system used by many people in their daily life. For these types of applications, the Board is looking for supporting documentation from potential users as well as business plans and financial statements when considering public need, applicant fitness and economic conditions. The length and complexity of the business plan and financial information as well as the volume of letters or statements from potential users should reflect the following factors: the type, size, and complexity of the proposed transportation business; and the degree of comparable competition in the operating area.

Application Decision
Passenger Transportation Board

The Board approves the requested amendments to the terms and conditions
of licence.

Board Decisions:
Emerald Taxi Ltd., dba British Columbia Railway Contract, is authorized under PT Licence No. 70760 and is under contract with Alberta Co-op Taxi Ltd to provide passenger directed vehicle service transporting Canadian National Railway crews to and from certain points in north-central British Columbia. The applicant seeks to amend Service 1 to include reverse trips authorization that would enable the applicant to originate trips along the Canadian National Railway line west to and including the town of Smithers and
east to and including the Village of McBride. .

*Yes, that David McLean.

Another impressive factoid noted in Vancouver Sun's letters to the editor:

The cost of train travel
Letter: Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In 1961, the median salary in B.C. was about $7,500 and a train ticket from Vancouver to Montreal was $16. Today's median salary is about $42,000, or
5 1/2 times that amount; the cost of a train ticket, however, has gone up almost 100 times, to $1,524.60.

You can take a two-week ocean cruise for that kind of money and an equivalent train trip in the United States is only $848.

If Canada is going to get serious about reducing carbon emissions, greener alternatives to flying, such as train travel, are going to have to become more affordable.

Brockton Macdonald


Sunday, July 27, 2008


"Riding the Rails" ... WooHooo!

On October 2007, an e.mail arrived from Island Tides newspaper asking if I would write a brief story for them about the BCRail Case. Sure I would. Taking an item from the early stuff I had written for this blog, I added to it, subtracted from it, polished it up a bit and e.mailed it to Island Tides with good wishes. (I've also done this for other small B.C. newspapers.) It's what neighbours do, I thought.

The story was published in their November 15, 2007 edition under the heading "Riding the Rails". A cheque arrived not long after ... wow ... a pleasant surprise. But the best was yet to come. Today, a new message:

From: Island Tides
To: BC Mary

Dear Mary,

Your contribution to Island Tides have been much appreciated, by us and by Island Tides' readers. This year I thought we all needed a bit of recognition so along with about ten other contributors Island Tides has nominated you for a 2008 Jack Webster award.

In the category of Commentary, your article Riding The Rails, Island Tides, Nov 15/07 has been nominated.

You may be contacted by the Jack Webster Foundation for more information.

We will announce nominees in the Island Tides in August. Jack Webster finalists will be announced in September and the awards are presented November 6, 2008 in Vancouver.

For more information on the Jack Webster Awards, go to

Once again, thanks for all you do. Best of luck!

Island Tides Newspaper - Regional News, Views & Opportunities
Tsawwassen, Victoria, Nanaimo & Round The Islands - 'A Snapshot of the Strait of Georgia'
'Every Second Thursday' - average circulation 17,500 printed copies - '24/7' - 7,000 online readers every month. Advertising rates, advertiser links, testimonials, back issues, reprints, photos: All content copyright of Island Tides or author, no reprint without permission and attribution, please enquire.

Publisher/Editor: Christa Grace-Warrick
Assistant Publisher: Jill Moran
Ph: 250-629-3660 Fax: 250-629-3838
Advertising and general enquiries:
News and press releases
Box 55, Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada V0N 2M0

There isn't a snowball's chance in hell, of BC Mary attending that big awards dinner next November. But thanks to Island Tides' nomination (which must include copies of 5 other articles I've written), the newsmen of B.C. who adjudicate these awards, will be giving The Legislature Raids a closer look; and thanks to our excellent contributors, The Legislature Raids is looking pretty darn good these days. If the Jack Webster Awards had a Blogger category, I'd think we stood a pretty fair chance.

I now fully understand when people say on Emmy or Juno Award nights, "It's an honour just to be nominated." It's OK to laugh right out loud, now. I think Jack Webster probably would laugh, if he were still with us. Or ... maybe he wouldn't laugh. Jack was a good newsman who wanted people to know about things like BC Rail.

Me? Well, I laughed ... and the smile lasted all day ... because I was delighted that Island Tides (good newsfolk too) cared enough to ask for that first story on BC Rail and then cared enough to make the nomination for this award. High fives all around.

- BC Mary.


Saturday, July 26, 2008


Blog Borg Collective

North Van's Grumps has left a new comment. He writes ...

About: Fourth of series on ICBC by Vaughn Palmer.

I was so ticked off with yesterday's third column on the ICBC scandal that I sat down and wrote an email to Vaughn and a comment to this blog.

Vaughn received his, and replied, which mirrored almost exactly what I wrote for here and didn't post.

Then there's Vaughn Palmer's column today (Saturday), which I have created a link above.

The ICBC scandal topic is one that I feel that I can get in on the ground floor...... so I've created a blog called "Blog Borg Collective".

Congratulations, N.V.G., and best wishes to you and your new blog. Please send me a link, an URL, a blog address, so we can find you. Thanks. - BC Mary.



Lawsuit threatens to shine some light in the shadows of the ICBC scandal

By Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun
- July 26, 2008

VICTORIA - While the Insurance Corp. of B.C. refuses to say if anyone was fired over the scandal at its research facility, a former vice-president now says he was made a scapegoat in the affair.

Mark Withenshaw has launched a lawsuit, seeking a substantial payout and damages, arising out of his dismissal from ICBC a few weeks after the scandal broke.

"The dismissal was in bad faith and was for political reasons, related to an embarrassing scandal that involved employees of the defendant other than the plaintiff," says the writ filed in B.C. Supreme Court this month.

The 27-year veteran of the government-owned auto insurance corporation was vice-president of driver services at the time of his ouster. He flatly denies having "line accountability" for the material damage research and training facility, focus of the scandal. "However, he was wrongfully made a scapegoat through the dismissal," according to the writ.

Withenshaw says he was called in by then ICBC president Paul Taylor on March 19 and fired "without cause."
The company offered 18 months' salary, about $300,000, as severance.

But what really irked Withenshaw -- "this came as a complete shock" -- was that his soon-to-be-ex-employer downgraded his performance rating, denying him what he regards as his earned entitlement under the company bonus plan.
His suit claims a 20-per-cent bonus for 2007 as well as for the 18 months covered by the severance payment, about $100,000 in all. He also claims "damages for breach of contract," and for the "attack on his reputation, mental distress and damage to his re-employability."

ICBC has so far refused to comment on the writ, nor has it filed a response in court. But if the case goes ahead, it may shed light on the to-date murky details of how ICBC handled the scandal at its Burnaby-based research facility.

Withenshaw is one of three ICBC employees named in media reports as having left the company after the scandal broke.
Interim CEO Geri Prior has confirmed that disreputable practices were "condoned by a specific line of authority at ICBC" and also that those responsible "are no longer employed" at ICBC. But she refused to say how many have left, if any were fired, and whether the company paid any compensation in connection with the departures.

{Snip} ...

The Withenshaw writ (well worth a look) can be read online at, the website for CBC British Columbia, which reported the story last week.

See: bc-080718-icbc-court.pdf ... and:

Read Vaughn Palmer's full column at:

The trial of Basi, Virk, Basi could also shed light in the shadows of B.C. Rail. It's fair to ask: what's going on in British Columbia? Who let the dogs out? - BC Mary.


Friday, July 25, 2008


The BC Rail Scandal

Killing Democracy and the Rule of Law. The Supreme Court of British Columbia, The BC Rail Scandal, and the Basi, Virk, and Basi Court Proceedings, July 25, 2008.

By Robin Mathews

Courtroom 66 saw a tiny, unspectacular few (10 counsel in court, about 9 others in the gallery) gather to witness Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett hammer another nail into the coffin or our legal system. She ruled that she has the power to order the (dubious) solicitor/client privilege of the Gordon Campbell cabinet to be extended (in this case) to the Defence counsel and - at the same time - to deny the evidence involved to the public.

Rejecting the claim of Roger McConchie (for the Globe and Mail) that granting the order would create (a) a "secrecy package", (b) would create a new meaning of solicitor/client privilege, and (c) would create a precedent dangerous for the future, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett accepted the argument of the Gordon Campbell cabinet (through counsel George Copley) that breaking solicitor/client secrecy and extending information to Defence counsel is not making it public.

Waivers of privilege, she said, require a person to show he or she is directly affected (as, perhaps, in a case of "innocence at stake", meaning that failure of waiver would assure an unfair trial). My argument is that there is a parallel interest on the part of all British Columbians to someone arguing "innocence at stake" in this matter because the Gordon Campbell cabinet may be shielding evidence that would, ultimately, reveal criminal activity damaging to the whole population.

In her use of precedent, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, as I heard her, called upon instances involving private corporations. The cabinet of B.C. is not a private corporation. I shall come back to that.

To begin, George Copley argued (verbally in court) that the Gordon Campbell cabinet has no need in law to relinquish its (dubious) solicitor/client privilege. (That is questionable.) Cabinet has, he said, not a legal but a moral duty to share the evidence with Defence counsel.

That argument was picked up and used by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett in her decision. It opens huge questions.

Since the law, we are led to believe, is based upon shared criteria of morality, Copley (I insist) is declaring, and Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett took up the argument [very importantly] that the law and morality - for the Gordon Campbell cabinet - are separate. In short, the cabinet he represents will act legalistically when forced to, but its action need have nothing to do with morality. Thinking to show a special sensitivity in the case of the materials Defence demands from cabinet in order to guarantee its clients a fair trial, Copley suggested grandly that cabinet felt a moral duty to help though it could legalistically deny the materials necessary for a fair trial.

He is, I believe, saying that the cabinet of British Columbia (or any government in Canada), having been extended huge special powers of privilege and privacy in order to uphold the rule of law, the integrity of government, and the development of policies may, at will, deny the Defence and the Public information (in a court proceeding) which may reveal wrong-doing among its agents or itself (as a cabinet). In the particular case referred to, he declared that the cabinet, moved by moral considerations, agreed to give Defence the materials necessary to conduct a fair trial but insisted the public has no [legal?] right to see them.

Outside of the court after the decision, Mr. McConchie (for the Globe and Mail) made three points. (1) This is the first time in Canada that such a declaration has been made. (I will refer to this farther on.) (2) The order is characterized by consent. It is a consent declaration of Prosecution and Defence. (3) The introduction of the "moral" component is extraordinary and complicating. Can the cabinet, in future, be asked to render evidence in court for "moral" reasons, on this precedent? What are the outside boundaries for the future? Can cabinet be faced with this decision if it tries further refusal of materials?

McConchie stated that he was delighted that the order in no way prejudices free speech arguments before the court if the cabinet tries to impose a publication ban on privileged material exposed by cross-examination or other means in the court.

Just as relevant, Kevin McCullough for the Defence - after the decision - stated in court (argument no longer being permissible on the order) that Defence is back to Square One. Because, he said, when Defence wants to use the material in open court, sparks may fly and the cabinet may demand privilege permits them to challenge use (and so, in effect, the material returns to secret status and must be fought over anew).

[If this argument seems unique and of little interest, read on. And observe, as well, that the Agricultural Land Reserve part of the investigations of the BC Rail Scandal that relate in some ways to Dave Basi, has moved into pre-trial hearings in Victoria - with, I am told, a publication ban on proceedings. Why a publication ban? Who is denying the principle of Open Courts? Who is being protected by a publication ban? Is it a further comment upon the attempt to strangle the open court principle in Canadian courts?]

Partly the reluctance to release the information in the matter argued in Courtroom 66 in Vancouver is based on (innocent?) third party involvement. But the argument that the BC Rail co. is a third party to the action against the three accused constitutes, I believe, simple nonsense (accepted, nonetheless, by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett). BC Rail is a property of the people of British Columbia. The Gordon Campbell cabinet is the elected servant of the people of British Columbia. There exists "the people of British Columbia", their extension into the cabinet of British Columbia, and their property, BC Rail. There is no third party.

To argue that there is a third party is to argue that the Gordon Campbell cabinet is a separate corporate entity (separate from the electorate that created it) and that the cabinet "owns" BC Rail and can separate it (as a third party) from the people who, in fact, are its owners.

Permitting that interpretation, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett is, I believe, making a declaration that the Constitution of our democracy is a sham. She is making a declaration, moreover, I believe, that the Gordon Campbell group is a private corporation that - with other private corporations in the world - rules the Province of B.C. If that is true, "The people of British Columbia" are a fiction. They don't exist as a factor in the government of British Columbia

Only one of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett's errors, I believe, is her behaving as if the Gordon Campbell cabinet is a single and separate corporate body as - say - Canfor is or Telus. At no point in the proceedings thus far have I seen her stop the argument to say, "We are not talking about a private corporation that Gordon Campbell is heading. We are talking about the government of B.C., which is 'responsible' to parliament and through it to the population of the Province. Its responsibilities in all of the matters we are facing are special and particular to its identity. All claims it makes for privilege, secrecy, confidentiality have to be weighed from the point of view that it is an instrument of a democratic community and must answer to that community. It cannot be regarded as a private corporation."

In addition, the Gordon Campbell cabinet, apparently, threatened that if it didn't get the order it wants, it might not give up the materials sought by Defence counsel. That is - by the way - the second threat to the Defence (and the Canadian public) in the case. The first came from Special Crown Prosecutor William Berardino who has suggested that if he doesn't get a decision permitting him to conduct witness testimony in camera with Defence excluded - on the basis that the witness MIGHT name a person ALLEGED (but without a shred of proof in the hands of the judge) to be a "confidential informant", he may close the Crown's case, which means he may end the action.

To the British Columbia public William Berardino, representative of the Crown, is saying, as I understand him, that if he doesn't get his way in a most tenuous (and I believe probably vexatious) request of the court, he will resign his trust obligation to seek justice on behalf of the constitution and the people of the Province. That is a way of saying, in short, (as I understand the matter) that he wants to make law as he needs it, and is not willing to follow the law of the land.

In the case of George Copley asking for an extension of the cabinet's (dubious) solicitor/client privilege to be extended to Defence counsel but not the public, both Michael Bolton, Defence counsel and George Copley, counsel for cabinet, argued, I believe, that the order is virtually unnecessary because Defence doesn't hand on evidence to the public in the normal course of events.

If that is so, why is the order being sought? I suggest it is being sought in order to diminish the powers of Defence and of the public to demand fully open courts, to demand fair trial, and to uphold the key rights of the accused.

Notice. William Berardino's appeal attempts to exclude Defence counsel and the public from the giving of testimony. That would be, I allege, an action relegating Defence to an inferior place in criminal cases and to nullify the existence of the public. It would, I believe, be an important step in the direction of reversing a basic principle. It would be to move away from the principle that the accused are innocent until proved guilty towards the principle that the accused are guilty and have precious little chance in a court of proving the opposite. That state of law exists and has existed frequently in parts of the world.

The Gordon Campbell cabinet request for an order seeks to eliminate (by establishing a precedent) an important area in which evidence presented in court must be "open", must be made public and placed on public record.

I suggest that none of the prohibitions sought are necessary. I suggest, moreover, that they are a part of the move by many contemporary siamese twins - private corporations and governments in power - to destroy democratic institutions and replace them with corporate rule while insisting corporate rule is the final achievement and apex of democratic freedom.

History looked at briefly reveals that corporate totalitarianism has always destroyed the just balance between accusers and defenders. In criminal law the accuser is the Crown, a highly complex entity outside government (though, of course, made possible by it). It is, at its best, the ideal of the society seeking justice without bias or affiliations. Forms of totalitarianism overcome, absorb, and disable open and just courts. The Crown is co-opted. Judges become rubber stamps for the corporate state. The Defence must - by a hundred means - be disabled. At first the transition is barely visible. As long as the fiction of a Democratic Society is maintained (to hoodwink the population) the matter can be hidden, often.

As corporate totalitarianism hardens the fiction is abandoned. In the Stalinist "show trials" of the 1930s the balance of accuser and defender was erased. The tortured accused poured out incriminating confessions before a (supposedly) believing court which then handed down each bleak sentence.

Nazi Germany didn't reach for the "legitimacy" of show trials, but many of its laws saw prosecution, defence, and judiciary combine together to violate and debase human decency and dignity - and to do so "under the law". Corporate totalitarianism combines bad law with corrupted courts to gain its ends.

In criminal law, I am arguing, the necessity (in order to move to corporate totalitarianism) is to disable what we think of as the "Defence" and to hide the new role of the courts from the people. I am arguing, further, that the appeal by William Berardino to exclude Defence and the public from the testimony of a witness in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter, and the request for a special order by George Copley to expand (in fact) solicitor/client privilege (in fact limiting Defence and excluding the public) may both be seen as attempts (whether Berardino and Copley know it or not) to remove powers of the Defence and to hide evidence (and actions) from the public.

I am suggesting those moves might be seen by reasonable and prudent Canadians as moves toward corporate totalitarianism.

I said in an earlier piece that the rape of democratic rights and procedures at Guantanamo prison has acted as a guide for such moves elsewhere. The present defender of (Canadian) Omar Khadr at Guantanamo, U.S. Lt. Cmdr. Bill Kueber, makes the point: "if I'm a government lawyer, I can do whatever I need to do to accomplish my mission. If I'm a defence lawyer, all of a sudden there are all these made-up rules to keep me from doing my job". (Globe and Mail, July 19 08 A11)

As one might expect, the corporate friendly Stephen Harper government refuses to intervene on behalf of Omar Khadr. Lt. Cmdr. Kuebler "freely admits" the case "cannot be won in a Guantanamo courtroom regardless of the evidence". (Nor could one ever be won in the Stalinist "show trials", largely for the same reasons.) "Time and again, [Cmdr. Kuebler] has told anyone who'll listen that Mr. Khadr's only hope is for Ottawa to intervene."

At present, Guantanamo is the symbolic public face of what is increasingly Dominant Western Power's attitude to courts, the law, and democratic freedoms. Delivery for torture to foreign countries by U.S. orders has been common. Canadian complicity in Afghanistan torture is almost a certainty. That's not all. "Abousfian Abdelsazik says Canadian diplomats knew he was being tortured in grim Sudanese prisons but did nothing." (Globe and Mail, June 14 08 A11). Omar Khadr, in Guantanamo, alleges the same. Even so, Guantanamo and the other widespread violations of Western law, justice, and rules about human rights make up only one piece of the jigsaw puzzle of what might be called "growing corporate totalitarianism in the West".

The pieces of the puzzle expand through the phony "War on Terror" to U.S.-led private corporate moves to "rule", in fact, as much of the world's economy as possible. As I write the Iraq oil lands are being parcelled out to major Western - mostly U.S. - corporations. Afghanistan is being "secured" for oil and for other geopolitical ends. Human life in the process has no value.

North American transportation lines, oil, gas, and river energy are being privatized and placed in U.S. corporate hands. The BC Rail Scandal is one part of that deliberate policy. Eager to privatize into U.S. hands, the Gordon Campbell cabinet may well have fallen into actions that it is now desperately, in the Basi, Virk, and Basi fraud and breach of trust action, doing everything in its power to obscure, disguise, and/or erase.

The BC Rail Scandal is the tip of the iceberg. Against all promises, the Gordon Campbell cabinet has, in fact, destroyed BC Hydro, cutting it into three parts. One part has been handed to privately-owned Accenture (of the famous Enron and Arthur Anderson disastrous scandals). BC Hydro is now forced to buy every new kilowatt of power from "private" sources. The third part of (former) BC Hydro is a sham transmission company, like BC Hydro, B.C.-owned. Except it is being integrated into a wholly U.S. dominant transmission network which can dictate what happens to and where B.C. electric energy goes.

At present the Gordon Campbell cabinet is auctioning off all oil and gas lands to private, largely U.S.-connected or U.S. interests. It is, at the same time, giving BC Rail-style leases to private corporations to capture all electric energy from all B.C. rivers - and those leases will funnel energy into a "North American" system over which British Columbians (and other Canadians) will have almost no power. All of that is accompanied by wholly misleading information, apparently happily disseminated by Canada's major press and media.

In the same year as the search warrant "raids" on legislature offices the Campbell government set about changing the status of BC Ferries in preparation for selling the operation off to anyone outside Canada who would take it. To assist, they hired a U.S. person practiced, apparently, in disintegration as head of the new corporation, David Hahn. He is said to have (expense account) travelled the world attempting to dump BC Ferries, without success.

Having removed BC Ferries from the status of Crown Corporation, the Campbell cabinet could claim it is not a part of the B.C. highways system and must pay for itself. While pumping money into the private corporations preparing for the Olympics and cutting taxes for like entities, the cabinet is, in effect, throttling people on the Gulf Islands, placing small businesses there in jeopardy, making ferry services more and more expensive, hinting they will be less frequent, and, it is alleged, attempting to destroy the BC Ferries union.

The delayed, and delayed, and delayed trial of Basi, Virk, and Basi, arising out of the scandalous alienation of BC Rail from the people of B.C., must be seen in that wider perspective.

In civil trials (as distinct from criminal ones) one party (the Plaintiff) accuses a second party (the Defendant) of wrong-doing. The Crown is not present.

As the Kelly Marie Richard dental malpractice suit in Calgary seems to show, the Plaintiff (the accuser) may be the party that must be destroyed to assure corporate dominance. The Plaintiffs in the Kelly Marie Richard case allege a giant corporation (CGI) acted improperly with what seems to be cooperation from the RCMP, the CPC, a major law firm, some judges of the Calgary Court of Queen's Bench, as well as professional associations and others.

So alarming are many, many of the allegations in the case (and evidence I have studied) that, supported by the Committee for the Defence of Kelly Marie Richard, I am seeking (with a serious, accompanying Report) from Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and others in government, a full Public Inquiry. Nicholson has received at least 50 letters from people urging him to act and asking him to reply to my correspondence.

Nicholson, Canadian Minister of Justice, has not so much as acknowledged receiving communication from ANYONE who has made contact with him on the matter. Like Stephen Harper in the Omar Khadr case, Rob Nicholson appears to refuse even to acknowledge the possibility of demonstrable injustice - where U.S. power or corporate interests are involved. (They are often almost the same thing.)

With the Omar Khadr, Afghanistan, the Kelly Marie Richard, and the BC Rail Scandal events in mind, a person would be hasty to say there are no grounds for speaking of a calculated erosion of democratic guarantees in the courts of the West. The farce of the BC Rail Scandal and the criminal charges arising from it seem to support deep concern about the disintegration of the legal system and the erosion of concepts of justice in Canada. With the behaviour of Stephen Harper and Rob Nicholson one may be able to point even to a highest level of Canadian government support for corporate wrong-doing.

That is perfectly consistent with allegations that in both Britain and Canada political accountability is under severe attack. (Read Donald Savoie's book: Court Government and the Collapse of Accountability, Toronto, U. of T. Press, 2008).

Careless journalists in Vancouver have - more than once - suggested that anything other than quiescent acceptance of the delay and apparent manipulation in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case arising from the BC Rail Scandal points to "conspiracy theories". They mean by conspiracy theories mad, irresponsible, fantasizing without basis in fact.

They plainly are refusing to look beyond their noses. Even there - up that close - indications - quite apart from the scandalous delays - are very disturbing.

A key figure in the case against Basi. Virk, and Basi is the Special Crown Prosecutor, William Berardino. The category of Special Crown Prosecutor in B.C. arose from an alleged desire to move from the regular Crown Prosecutorial staff in cases involving government figures or persons connected to government to people of unquestioned independence and objectivity. They are people designed to be chosen among those without any connection with anyone in the case or with anyone in government.

When William Berardino was appointed, the Attorney General from whose office the appointment came, Geoff Plant, is alleged to have been a business associate of Berardino's in the past. There are two ways of looking at Berardino's appointment. The first is that he is such an outstanding prosecutor that his alleged former connection with the Attorney General, Geoff Plant, simply had to be overlooked.

The second way of looking at the appointment is to say that it was deeply unfortunate because any reasonable Canadian might believe (a) that Berardino should not have been appointed, and/or (b) that his role as Special Crown Prosecutor may be viewed with suspicion. Since there are about 11,000 lawyers in British Columbia, the Attorney General's office could pretty clearly have found a candidate with no record of connection to interested parties.

A second key figure in the case is Gordon Campbell, premier. He solemnly promised not to sell BC Rail and then promptly set about alienating it. The "sale" is alleged to have been highly suspect (CPR withdrew from the bidding, publicly condemning the process). Many believe the cabinet misled the people of B.C. and the Opposition in the legislature about the terms of sale, price, etc.

Apart form those matters, Campbell is alleged by Defence counsel in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case (a) to have directly or by agent violated the protocol for sifting privileged cabinet documents. (b) And he is alleged to have unilaterally nullified the protocol and to have appointed a Deputy Attorney General to oversee privilege claims. Defence counsel call those actions political interference with court procedure.

Wally Oppal is a third important figure. Presently Attorney General of B.C., he was for more than a decade a working colleague of many in B.C.'s superior court structure. He agreed to leave the bench to run as a Gordon Campbell candidate, and very soon after he ran, he won, and was named Attorney General. Questions about his role are many. Should a judge ever be permitted to leave the bench to take the position of Attorney General? Does doing so create a conflict of interest that cannot be cleared? What is the position of former-colleague judges who must rule on matters with which Oppal is involved? Can reasonable people believe those judges are totally untouched by their relation with him? In the BC Rail Scandal both the political milieu and the criminal investigations/hearings leading to trial require an Attorney General as untouched by political considerations as possible.

Just for example, can British Columbians believe that the appointment by Gordon Campbell of a deputy minister from Wally Oppal's ministry to oversee cabinet privilege claims is a purely administrative move and not a highly charged political one? Especially after Campbell unilaterally and without consultation closed down the old method? Needless to say the appointment would have had to be approved by Wally Oppal.

NDP Justice critic MLA Leonard Krog has publicly requested the Attorney General to order William Berardino not to attempt to take an appeal from the B.C. Appeal Court (where he lost) to the Supreme Court of Canada. To appeal farther, Krog suggests, would delay trial of the accused for at least another year. Can Krog, or any British Columbian, have faith that whatever decision Oppal makes will be founded upon law and not political expediency?

A fourth, large basket of people about whom many questions persist are found in the RCMP. From the beginning the RCMP has provoked questions about the seriousness with which they have pursued matters arising from the BC Rail Scandal. Almost as the boxes of files were being removed from legislature offices on December 28, 2003, and as hard drives were being gathered, and offices and homes in Victoria and Vancouver were searched, RCMP spokespeople announced with bland confidence that no elected officials were being investigated (or would be).

By what prescience could they know that the huge gathering of documents and testimony they had just begun to assemble contained no evidence that might incriminate elected officials?

From almost the beginning, RCMP delay has been a strange, inexplicable, and deeply disturbing. Over months and months during which time Defence counsel complained and complained of RCMP delay in producing documents, William Berardino said little or that things were going as quickly as possible.

Then in 2008 - a few weeks ago - when NDP Justice critic, MLA Leonard Krog had Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett release some affidavit material relating to the protocol problem, a strange item was contained in the papers. The search warrant raids on the legislature happened on December 28, 2003 but charges against the three accused weren't laid for nearly a whole year. The raids themselves were the culmination of investigation and evidence gathering that had gone on for some time. Why the delay? We have never been told.

In the Krog papers there is a note from George Copley, counsel for the cabinet, well into the year 2004, to people in the Attorney General's office. In the April 1, 2004 note Copley says that he and Berardino were meeting with Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm. Copley says that Berardino asked him not to bring up the RCMP delay in the meeting with Dohm. Copley didn't. And he said that Dohm chose not to bring up the subject.

"Obviously", Copley wrote, "Bill Berardino is sensitive to the matter taking so long and he asked me this morning before Court not to comment on that aspect. In his report to the Court he assured the court that the RCMP were working full time except for the spring break and that Copley would complete his review in 3 to 4 weeks. I think he [Dohm] got the message without me saying so that any delay at this point has not been our responsibility. He chose not to comment on the delay."

The RCMP took a further eight months before laying charges against the (presently) accused three men.

As early as 2004, before charges were ever laid, it would seem, there was a recognition among some counsel - and apparently including Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm - that the RCMP was delaying. What was going on? And why wasn't the Special Crown Prosecutor demanding speedier action from the RCMP?

Several questions haunt the RCMP role in the BC Rail Scandal.

Who gives the orders? What relation has RCMP to the cabinet or cabinet spokespeople? Defence counsel, in their June 4, 2007 disclosure application, point to consultation RCMP conducted with both the Solicitor General and his Assistant Deputy Minister "before and during the execution" of the search warrants and with the further involvement of those men when "the criminal investigation continued after the search of the Legislature." [Was the consultation confidential, or did others in the cabinet know about it?] Why has disclosure of materials requested from the RCMP been so laboured and so unsatisfactory?

The problem of RCMP/Special Crown Prosecutor delay entered the pre-trial hearings presided over by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, and it may be said to have never left.

That brings us to the role of the presiding judge, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett. She spoke of wanting to bring the matter to a speedy trial, but she has done almost nothing to assure effective, complete, orderly, and timely disclosure as far as I have been able to judge. She may be said to referee the hearings rather than oversee them, in my estimation. I have said that she should have ordered effective delivery of disclosure materials and should have cited those who delayed with contempt of court. I point out in this column she has never made a distinction between the Gordon Campbell cabinet and a private corporation. The issue has been called "the most important trial in B.C. history". Whether it is that or not, it is very important. It is a trial in which the business and the property of the people of British Columbia have been, it is alleged, tainted with criminal behaviour and perhaps much more.

For those reasons she should be a stern, consistent, demanding, and an effective instrument to bring the case to trial. She should engage the public in all matters relating to the trial, and she should make as much of the material as possible available to the public. She has done none of those things in my estimation. Instead, in my judgement, she has reinforced the rules set out by Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm to (in my judgement) keep information from the public. I believe his protocol, his Practice Direction, for the release of material is intolerable, as I have said in columns frequently. The Practice Direction of Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm may be seen, in my respectful estimation, as a part of the move to corporate totalitarianism - whether Patrick Dohm is aware of that or not.

And so we are back where we started. Is the machinery of justice in B.C. (and perhaps in Canada) - as a part of the structure of power in our democracy - being transformed into an instrument of corporate aspiration. Is it leading us to the destruction of democracy, democratic freedoms as we have known them, and a New Order in which the values of Private Corporations shall be thrust upon Canadians, called democracy, and, in fact, be the full, unfolding of Corporate Totalitarianism in which the Iraq war and Guantanamo Bay prison are the living manifestations?

Every indication arising from the Basi, Virk, and Basi action points, as I see it, to manipulation, obstruction, and delay of process by forces that look very much like they originate in the Gordon Campbell interest group. That group - characterized by the cabinet - is actively handing the wealth of the Province (traditionally belonging to the people) to Private Corporate interests, largely centred outside Canada. The BC Rail Scandal is only one face of that improper sell-out. "The court", in the person of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, seems completely unaware, and so appears to me to be doing almost nothing to focus, to expedite, and to determine timely and effective movement to trial in the matter before her.


Thank you, Robin. - BC Mary.



Canadian Press



By Ian Mulgrew
Vancouver Sun - 25 July 2008

Also (same article) Victoria Times Colonist - 25 July 2008



Basi Virk hearing today 9:00 AM

Click on "Van Court Direct" in left column. See how it almost looks as if the B.C. Supreme Court itself is wearying of the endless repetition for Case #23299. Today, in less than 1-1/2 pages, the charges simply sum up with Full disclosure. See para. 182 - 200 in Notice of Application dated 26 February 2007 for details.



Thursday, July 24, 2008


Why Crown Corporations (like ICBC) must be fully accountable to government and the public

North Van's Grumps, one of our outstanding commentors, brings three significant documents to our attention. He writes:

As much as Gordon Campbell has done everything within his power to ensure that the public doesn't get to see what the BC Ferry bosses are cooking with the books... along with BC Rail finances, I wondered if you have ever seen this little document:

"The Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations in British Columbia " -- Jack Kempf.

At the time this article was published Jack Kempf was a member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly. He was Chairman of the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations in 1979.The Committee on Crown Corporations was established by a statute of the British Columbia Legislature in 1977. This article describes the innovative approach, possibly unique in the parliamentary system, which this Committee brings to the direction, control and accountability of Crown-owned companies in British Columbia.

Crown corporations fulfil a special role in British Columbia in administering and providing many essential services to the public. As public policy has developed, government has expanded the number, size and complexity of Crown-owned companies, thereby increasing their impact on residents and the economy. These companies affect all British Columbians, by providing services to government; electric power; natural gas; ferry, rail and transit services; auto and general insurance; and real property and business development.

The pervasiveness of Crown corporations requires that they be fully accountable to government and the public. As instruments of public policy, Crown corporations must respond to the priorities of the executive branch, often being required to undertake uneconomic activities without compensation while maintaining a businesslike appearance. To the extent that actions of Crown companies draw on the financial resources of the province, the Legislative Assembly must be informed of and approve the commitment and expenditure of public funds.

Finally, disclosure to the Legislature and public through annual reports and reviews by legislative committees enables periodic assessments of Crown corporation performance to be made.........."

Which led N.V.G. to research the

SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE ON CROWN CORPORATIONS REPORT and its Crown corporation and agencies:British Columbia Assessment Authority (CC) British Columbia Assets and Land Corporation (CC) British Columbia Buildings Corporation (CC) British Columbia Enterprise Corporation* (CC) British Columbia Ferry Corporation (CC) B.C. Community Financial Services Corporation (CC) British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (CC) B.C. Pavilion Corporation (CC) BC Transportation Financing Authority* (CC) British Columbia Lottery Corporation (CC) British Columbia Railway Company (CC) British Columbia Trade Development Corporation* (CC) British Columbia Transit (CC) Columbia Basin Trust (CC) Columbia Power Corporation (CC) Discovery Enterprises Inc* (CC) Duke Point Development Limited* (CC) Fisheries Renewal BC* (CC) Forest Renewal BC* (CC) Homeowner Protection Office (CC) Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (CC) Okanagan Valley Tree Fruit Authority (CC) Pacific National Exhibition (CC) Provincial Capital Commission (CC) Provincial Rental Housing Corporation (CC) Rapid Transit Project 2000 Ltd (CC) Tourism British Columbia (CC) Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre Authority* (CC) Victoria Line Ltd* (CC) Other Agencies:552513 British Columbia Ltd1 577315 BC Ltd2 580440 BC Ltd3* B.C. Festival of the Arts Society B.C. Games Society B.C. Health Care Risk Management Society BCIF Management Ltd British Columbia Arts Council British Columbia Health Research Foundation* British Columbia Heritage Trust British Columbia Housing Management Commission British Columbia Immigrant Investment Fund Ltd. British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch British Columbia Securities Commission Canadian Blood Services Creston Valley Wildlife Management Authority Trust Fund First Peoples' Heritage, Language and Culture Council Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission Industry Training and Apprenticeship Commission Legal Services Society Oil and Gas Commission Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia Society Private Post Secondary Education Commission Science Council of British Columbia


Which then took N.V.G. to:

Crown Agencies Exempt for the Balanced Budget of 2008 where, he continues, "I've had to copy both lists into my spreadsheet program to see just how many Crown Corporations are open and Transparent....552513 British Columbia Ltd., 577315 British Columbia Ltd., 580440 B.C. Ltd. , BC Buildings Corporation, B.C. Community Financial Services Corporation, British Columbia Enterprise Corporation, British Columbia Ferry Corporation, B.C. Festival of the Arts Society, BC Health Care Risk Management Society, British Columbia Health Research Foundation, British Columbia Heritage Trust, British Columbia Trade Development Corporation, BC Transportation Financing Authority, BCIF Management Ltd., Canadian Blood Services, Creston Valley Wildlife Management Authority, Discovery Enterprises Inc., Fisheries Renewal BC, Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission, Forest Renewal BC, Industry Training and Apprenticeship Commission, Land and Water British Columbia Inc., Nechako-Kitimaat Development Fund Society, Okanagan Valley Tree Fruit Authority, Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia, Pacific National Exhibition, Private Post Secondary Education Commission, Provincial Rental Housing Corporation, Rapid Transit Project 2000 Ltd, Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre Authority, Victoria Line Ltd. , and the answer is four: BC Buildings Corporation, BC Health Care Risk Management Society, Land and Water British Columbia Inc. , Nechako-Kitimaat Development Fund Society."


North Van's Grumps stops his search there, asking: What ever happened to the requirement that the BC Liberal government abide by The Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations in British Columbia - Jack Kempf to keep us informed of how they spend our taxes?

Then a P.S.:

Oh, did I forget to mention this: It's 2008 and these three companies are still on the books:

552513 British Columbia Ltd 1
577315 BC Ltd 2
580440 BC Ltd 3*

1 This company owns shares in Skeena Cellulose Inc.
2 The investments in Western Star Trucks Holdings Ltd. have been sold and the province no longer has any interest in that company.
3 This company provides funding to the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre Authority that, in turn, constructs the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre.

* Winding down or inactive


NVP concludes: Just why does the Convention centre have to have a numbered account and be exempt from reporting its finances to the public? Or is it being done so that the final price tag stays at $800 million?


Very special thanks to N.V.P. for this survey. - BC Mary.


One more of North Van's Grumps' findings belongs here:

The Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre is being completed by BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo). PavCo is a wholly-owned Crown Corporation of the Province of British Columbia that was formed by the April 1, 2008 amalgamation of BC Pavilion Corporation and Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project Ltd."

Not one peep about 580440 B.C. Ltd. (1999) created "to provide financing to the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre Authority for the expansion of the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre."

N.V.G., if I knew who you are or where you are, I'd be tempted to send a big bouquet of appreciation to your doorstep. There's a lot of work behind your sendings, and a lot more work that many of us can do in following up these pieces of information. So please accept a virtual bouquet of best wishes. And just think: there are still some editorials which refer to the public as "apathetic". - BC Mary.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Duncan, Young, in Court today?

Public Access Supreme Court Criminal List
Date: 23 July 2008
Page 1 of 4
[Click on the link "Van Court Direct" in left margin of this site to go to the listing.]

Case #134750-1 HMTQ v. Limited Access
Count 005 - Person dealing with government offering bribe
Count 006 - Offer bribe to individual for exercise of influence
Count 007 - Breach of trust by public officer
Count 008 - Offering bribe to public official

Location of offence(s): Victoria, B.C.

Case #134750-1 HMTQ v. Limited Access
Count 005 - Person dealing with government offering bribe
Count 006 - Offer bribe to individual for exercise of influence
Count 007 - Breach of trust by public officer
Count 008 - Offering bribe to public official

Location of offence(s): Victoria, B.C.

This is the day previously mentioned in Victoria Supreme Court as the date when Young and Duncan (but not Basi, yet) would appear with their lawyer, Jeffrey Campbell, to agree to their trial date on charges of influencing the A.L.R. land decision at Sooke. [Use the Search Box at top left of this web-site, type in "Duncan + Young" to re-read their story.] I cannot vouch for this being the court date for Duncan and Young. Will there be a report of it in tomorrow's press? Or is there a publication ban? - BC Mary.

Thursday, July 24, 2008 update: if there was anything about Case #134750 or the trial date for Duncan and Young (but not Dave Basi yet), I sure didn't see it in the Victoria Times Colonist. So the update is: there's no update.

Surely to gosh, it wouldn't hurt anybody or anything to just say Yes, the trial date has been set for [fill in the blank] ... or ... the trial date is delayed for [lemme guess: non-disclosure?] reasons. But I get the feeling it's like "Move along folks, keep movin' along ... ain't nuthin' happenin' here, just keep movin' along ... thank you very much ..." - BC Mary.



Tiny BC Rail offers big bucks to bosses (Part 1, Part 2)

Les Leyne
Times Colonist - July 23, 2008 -- and July 24, 2008

Kevin Mahoney and his lieutenants must be the highest-paid railroad barons in the history of transportation, if you measure salaries in relation to kilometres of track.

{Snip ... }

In a passage straight out of the Dilbert cartoons, the board said it canceled the incentive payments for everyone at B.C. Rail except executives and senior management. "The primary reason for this decision was that with the evolving mandate, it had become increasingly difficult to establish meaningful and measurable performance targets upon which bonus eligibility could be determined."

That sounds to me like nobody's quite clear what they're doing.

So only the people at the top who are supposed to make it clear will continue to get lavish bonuses.

Just So You Know: The mandate is likely muddled because the operation's future is unclear pending the outcome of the corruption trial. So they're paying the boss $570,000 a year to provide strategic real estate advice and run a 39-kilometre railway that they can't do much with until the never-ending Basi-Virk case is wrapped up in some fashion.

In recognition of these difficult times, the board voted last spring to trim the executives' bonuses by five to 15 per cent and cut discretionary allowances, lunch club memberships and their golf memberships.


Les Leyne barrels right along with:


Les Leyne
Times Colonist - July 24, 2008

The salaries that B.C. Rail pays its senior bosses continue to astound ... Of course the Crown corporation has other interests. It's a real estate holding company and provides strategic consulting advice on industrial real estate matters.

Overseeing those interests is considered so important that the president was paid $275,000 in salary, a bonus of $137,500, an RRSP contribution of $123,505, plus $33,970 in other benefits, for a total of $569,975.

The bonus is particularly striking, given the compensation disclosure statement released last week. The B.C. Rail board voted last spring to cancel incentive payments for everyone at B.C. Rail except executives and senior management. "The primary reason for this decision was that with the evolving mandate, it had become increasingly difficult to establish meaningful and measurable performance targets upon which bonus eligibility could be determined," the statement said.

That prompted a check of B.C. Rail's annual report to see how many people actually work there.

The answer is astounding -- there are just 30 full-time equivalents, the measure used, on the payroll.

The ratio of the president's salary to the number of employees is as wildly out of line as the ratio of pay to kilometres of track. There isn't another public-sector boss in B.C. making more money for managing fewer staff, although Partnerships B.C. boss Larry Blain comes close with compensation of $548,000 and 41 FTEs.

The annual report also shed some light on how B.C. Rail is doing in the real estate business. It appears to be one of the few entities in the province having trouble capitalizing on the real estate boom. Its net income was less than one-third of the previous year's and about one-quarter of the budgeted amount.

Why are they doing so poorly?

The problems are "substantially attributable to a delay in the sale of real estate due to the significant boom in economic activity throughout the province," the annual report proposes.

Has an explanation of failure to meet goals ever been couched in terms more pleasant to the ears of the powers that be? It has to be one of the more paradoxical reasons ever given for failure.

The claim is that the boom has resulted in limited access to professionals like consultants, land surveyors and real estate appraisers. It has also delayed decisions from government departments and municipalities.

So the corporation, which was supposed to complete 95 individual property transfers last year, managed only 20.

The report's financial statement also has a fascinating line called "Operating Losses." People who might be surprised that B.C. Rail is still around will recall the Liberals' explanation for the sale-lease of the freight line to CN was that B.C. Rail was a terminal money-loser that had built up enormous debt.

The government pitched the deal as a good way to make $1 billion up front and wipe out a lot of debt.

But three years after getting out of most of the railway business, it's still posting operating losses -- $17 million last year, up from $10 million two years ago. (That's more than offset by interest income and gains from disposal of assets.)

So the orphaned government-owned railway handed over most of its operations to CN four years ago, morphed into the real estate business, which is struggling to close deals, is still posting growing operating deficits (offset by other income) and posted net income that was one-quarter of what was expected.

But the corporation still managed to pay a six-figure bonus to the boss.

There's a strong clue as to how this is all explained.

It's in the grandiose, overblown description of the "benefits to the public."

B.C. Rail said the main benefit to the public "comes from its role in helping to implement the shareholder's B.C. Ports Strategy and Pacific Gateway Strategy."

"These strategies will add billions of dollars of economic output and more than 30,000 jobs in B.C. by 2020 by expanding and increasing the efficiency of the province's transportation infrastructure," the report says.

The Pacific Gateway is one of Gordon Campbell's pet projects. If you are anywhere in the public sector -- and working anywhere near the Gateway Strategy -- you're apparently as good as gold.

Think of ICBC, then BCRail ... what they once were, vs what they are now. Tip o'the tuque and sincere thanks to Les Leyne. - BC Mary.



Secret date, secret time, secret location, secret proceedings, secret findings for Police Chief Paul Battershill hearing

Date is a secret
Rob Shaw
Times Colonist
- July 23, 2008

The date has been set for a closed-door disciplinary hearing for Victoria's suspended police chief, but the time and location won't be made public for fear the event could turn into a media circus, Victoria's mayor says.

"I can set a disciplinary hearing date, but I don't have to make that date public," Mayor Alan Lowe said yesterday. {Snip} ...

People are asking: does this mean that Mayor Alan Lowe is preparing himself to be part of Premier Goddam Campbell's team in the 2009 provincial election. The indicators are in place. So ... is this the start of Election 2009? - BC Mary.

Maybe this small but significant item in Times Colonist on July 27, 2008 answers the question about Mayor Lowe's future candidacy for election to the B.C. Legislature:

Even Victoria Times Colonist had something to say about the level of secrecy in today's governing circles:

Times Colonist - July 27, 2008

... Thumbs Down

To Mayor Alan Lowe, for keeping the date of a disciplinary hearing for suspended Police Chief Paul Battershill secret. Battershill has been suspended with pay since November [actually, since October 11, 2007 - BC Mary]. Withholding such basic information as the date of a hearing, apparently for fear that reporters might wait outside the meeting room, violates basic principles of openness.

Humour section: imagine, the pussy-cat B.C. media working itself up into a frenzy!!

Lowe's secrecy
Times Colonist - Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mayor Alan Lowe's refusal to disclose the time and location for a closed-door hearing for suspended Police Chief Paul Battershill is a farce. Since when is the avoidance of a "media frenzy" grounds for secrecy?

John Vickers

And for those who don't have their own expense accounts, here's a comparison with the guy across town who also lunches with his employees, now and then:

The right to party?

The Campbell administrations spent $587,791.06 on parties to celebrate civil service achievements, Public Eye has exclusively learned. But the government says such celebrations are needed to help retain and recruit government employees in a tight labour market. According to documents obtained via a freedom of information request, the government paid out at least $77,564.63 catering to the dining desires of the 1,813 bureaucrats and guests who were scheduled to attend the premier's fourth annual innovation and excellence awards ...

From Sean Holman's Public Eye Online


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Premier Goddam Campbell gets involved in supporting the 4 Constables while Taser death is still under investigation

Who: Four RCMP constables, Premier Goddam Campbell, Gary Bass, the RCMP deputy commissioner for the Pacific region, and the late Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who did not speak English, who died on October 14, 2007 after being shot with a Taser stun gun at the Vancouver International Airport by RCMP officers called to help deal with the man, who had apparently become agitated after spending 10 hours there.

What: allegations of collusion or interference between the premier of the province and the police force on November 24 while the death was still being investigated. "Tell me what I can do," said Campbell who himself is the focus of allegations in the BC Rail trial.

Where: at Vancouver International Airport, scene of the Taser death

When: November 24, 2007

Why: to be determined.

[Glossary: The quid pro quo is an offer of help given with an understanding that help will be received in exchange. Commonly known as "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."]

The BC Taser Inquiry is a serious, painful public inquiry made necessary by the tragic death of a man in Vancouver International Airport, who was expecting to start a new life in Canada. Instead he died. YouTube showed us that he died unarmed, backing away from four RCMP, and Tasered either one time or 4 times, then knelt upon. We all saw that. We saw the distraught mother who had waited hours to welcome her son, was sent home to Kamloops, then called back to Vancouver and told that her only son was dead.

We saw the reaction of horror ricocheting across Canada and around the world that such a thing could have happened in Canada. We saw the Dziekanski funeral in Poland.

So this is a serious public inquiry with a far-reaching audience. It's important for B.C., for the R.C.M.P., and for Canada that such an inquiry is seen to be fair, impartial, honest. It is doubly important for people (including Basi and Virk) waiting for resolution of the BC Rail Case to be able to look to a Public Inquiry to finally open the books on that mystery, too.

The presiding judge on the Taser Inquiry is retired B.C. Court of Appeal justice Thomas Braidwood. And yet here we have Premier Goddam Campbell -- always refusing to speak about the BCRail Case because "it's before the courts" -- assuring the top cop for the Pacific Region what kind of Public Inquiry it will be: "the inquiry will not be a negative attack on the force," Campbell is alleged to have said. How would he know that? And shouldn't he just stfu while the Taser Inquiry is doing its work? Like, man, "It's before the courts"?

CBC did its homework and obtained, by means of a Freedom of Information request, an e-mail written by Gary Bass, the RCMP deputy commissioner for the Pacific region, on Nov. 24, [which] indicated that Campbell was "highly complimentary" of the police force despite the fact Dziekanski's death on Oct. 14 was still under investigation.

"I just ran into our premier at the airport and we had a great 20-minute discussion on this issue generally.… He was highly complimentary of the force, disappointed over the degree of criticism and wants to support the members involved somehow," Bass wrote in an e-mail addressed to RCMP Commissioner William Elliott and Bill Sweeney, a deputy commissioner and special adviser to the commissioner.

"He [Campbell] asked me to think about what he could do in this regard. … He supports the continued use of Taser and any other tools which support and protect our members. Quid pro quo.

"He said the inquiry will not be a negative attack on the force but a focused examination of all the issues," Bass wrote. What kind of man would express such thoughts on the very site where a Polish man had died after being Tasered?

The B.C. Taser inquiry, headed by retired B.C. Court of Appeal justice Thomas Braidwood, was called after Dziekanski's death. It is one of a number of probes into the use of stun guns by police forces that were launched after the death, including an internal investigation by the RCMP and an investigation by the RCMP public complaints commissioner.

Campbell said Friday the public inquiry will consider how to ensure a similar event never happens again.
See from
Apparently Gordon Campbell Feels Worse for Officers that Killed Robert Dziekanski than [for] Dziekanski Himself .

Well done, CBC. - BC Mary.