Friday, November 28, 2008
The RCMP, the BC Rail Scandal ... Part II
Part Two: Up To Their Armpits in Sleaze. The RCMP, The BC Rail Scandal, the B.C. Courts, and the Case Against Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, and Aneal Basi, former B.C. Cabinet Aides.
By Robin Mathews
Thursday, November 27 saw what journalist Bill Tieleman calls a "wild day in [B.C. Supreme] court" as revelations of questionable RCMP activity [in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case] constituted the "bombshells" dropped.
Thursday, and those days surrounding it, have been particularly sensitive because they are taken up with the question of the RCMP's claims of privilege (meaning secrecy) over a few hundred documents.
One of the characteristics of this case - besides interminable delays - has been the denial of the open court principle, and secrecy. At all times, the public (meaning also the press) has been treated as if it is lucky to be admitted to the courtroom. The idea of regularly making transcripts of the day's proceedings and some documents available to the public is so far from the minds of the judge that every release has had to be almost pried from the court
With the handling of RCMP 'privilege' matters, secrecy is tightened. Special Crown Prosecutor William Berardino - who has fronted all matters of the kind until now - is not arguing for the RCMP. Rather, W.P.Riley of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada is doing so. His unfamiliarity with the case, self-described as a "stranger" to the case, has, in my observation, delayed matters while he has been learning - trying to exert secrecy, and then often accepting processes that the Special Crown Prosecutor could have dealt with much faster. Delay? Yes. Intended delay? Who knows.
Delay - as I have often said - is the continuing characteristic marking the case. Indeed, as example, Michael Bolton, Defence counsel, reported on November 25 that 4300 pages withheld from Defence for months as "privileged", when released in late September proved to have at most 100 pages that might be claimed to have any sort of privilege attached. Why the game with the documents? And then, on November 27, came the "bombshells" I will refer to.
That day of revelations - and hints of more - collided (almost) with the release two days earlier of the "RCMP Reform Implementation Council's" first report to the Minister of Public Safety "and all interested Canadians regarding the progress of RCMP reform". That process was set afoot by the earlier Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP headed by David Brown who spoke of the RCMP as a broken organization and whose Task Force made recommendations for swift action and change.
The press release from Public Safety Canada bubbles over with enthusiasm for what appears to be a Harperclone "Council", carefully managed, without, it seems, one independent critical mind present, consulting with the Commissioner William Elliott (alleged relation of Brian Mulroney and a Deputy Minister), in order to affect as little change as possible and to call it a major reformation of the RCMP.
Remember that in his latest book, Dispersing the Fog, Paul Palango leaves little doubt that Stephen Harper is manipulating to have the RCMP exist as what I call a Personal Palace Army. What better way than to make William Elliott [alleged relation of Brian Mulroney who has acted as advisor and confidant to Stephen Harper] the first civilian Commissioner of the Force.
Terminology and blather dominate the nineteen page Report of the Council. Everything is moving along splendidly; nothing is happening. The moves that the government must make to reconstitute the RCMP are not even on the horizon. A few simple steps would (A) prove to the public that action is seriously intended and happening, and (B) would begin a change in the RCMP that would reverberate through the whole organization.
For instance. A new, effective, responsible, and empowered Public Complaints Commission would begin the transformation of the force very quickly. All over Canada Canadians are concerned with serious breaches of behaviour by RCMP officers that go undisciplined. A Public Complaints Commission with power to pursue investigation, and to charge officers if they are deemed to have broken the law would be such a wake-up call to the organization that it would begin to look into many of its "broken" procedures and to mend chains of command.
Among the six elements the RCMP has listed as its "vision for change" (such is the ethereal language the force uses) many would be affected really, understandably, and in a way the public could recognize: accountability, trust, adaptability, outstanding leadership. That's four of six. A tough, fair Public Complaints Commission would concentrate the minds of those engaged in change and reform.
I have used my own experience to report the insulated, uninvestigated, coddled, and highly dangerous state of RCMP activity. Excuse me if I refer to it again - it completely damns the RCMP. At the time of the "investigation" of former B.C. premier, Glen Clark, delay was one of the watchwords. I registered a formal complaint about delay and investigation techniques. The so-called investigation was terminated (unconcluded) by two experienced RCMP officers. I pushed on. Three years later - get that, three years later - I received a Report from the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP informing me that the investigation had been "wrongfully" terminated. The CPC's conclusion was they would leave it up to the discretion of the RCMP whether to reopen and continue the investigation!!
In the meantime, Glen Clark's political career was destroyed. There is reason to believe it may have been intentionally destroyed, partly by actions of the RCMP.
In the present Kelly Marie Richard dental malpractice case in Alberta, I believe the RCMP acted highly improperly, refusing to do a reasonable investigation, leaking confidential information, and misreporting. The CPC, appealed to, allegedly so harassed Ms. Richard that she withdrew her complaint. I filed a formal complaint on the matter to the RCMP. It reported it was doing an investigation, and a Report was sent to me of the findings. It was the nearest thing to farce that could be imagined. Some people involved were not even interviewed; casual statements gathered from others served as "evidence"; no records or documents were asked for or presented, no e-mail communications, and neither Ms. Richard nor me was asked for a shred of evidence. The whole thing was an embarrassing sham as I reported to R.R. Knecht, Deputy Commissioner of the North West. He never replied to my letter of assessment which asked for a re-opening of the investigation.
Kelly Marie Richard has been ruined financially, is in ill health, and is still being judicially harassed in what I believe is a total miscarriage of law and justice. The RCMP and the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP are so "broken" there is nowhere to turn for satisfaction.
Though other cases of the kind I report exist across Canada, the RCMP Reform Implementation Council and the RCMP brass could not be less interested. It wants the RCMP to work - for Stephen Harper and his clones.
The happenings in Vancouver at the pre-trial hearings towards a trial of the three accused men has all the perfume of recognizable delay. They also have had all along a perfume of RCMP failures of accountability, and masking of actions. And more than that. The bombshells dropped on Thursday, November 27, followed one upon the other. The Special Crown Prosecutor of the day (December 2003) told the RCMP their planned news release to explain the Search Warrant "raids" on B.C. legislature offices was wrong. "Do not leave the impression that organized crime has penetrated the legislature", the Special Crown Prosecutor said. Nonetheless, two days later "RCMP spokesperson John Ward told media that 'organized crime has stretched into every corner of B.C.' and had reached 'epidemic proportions in B.C.'
Why the contradiction? Why the expression of different goals, apparently?
During his review of that and other matters to follow, McCullough made the point that indications of police bias in investigation or failure of investigation are of importance to the Defence. Even some documents declared of no interest by the Crown might well contain information that points to non-action where action should have been taken, but was not taken - out of RCMP bias.
One of the claims of the Defence is that the three men accused may well have been selected out, targeted, and in a sense set up to take the fall for others. To any reasonable Canadian (even without the slightest knowledge of law), the idea that "aides" (assistants) to cabinet ministers would take instruction and follow orders and the policy of those ministers is something that is taken for granted. If the aides then should be found to be engaged in kinds of wrong-doing connected with and having relation to their employment, any reasonable Canadian would quite properly think that among the first to be investigated and reported upon in the matter would be the ministers of the aides. Did they give orders? Were they in any way implicated?
In the Basi, Virk, and Basi case, those questions do not seem to have been investigatively treated by the RCMP, with the exception of the aborted investigation of Gary Collins, finance minister.
The year delay in laying charges after the raids on the legislature may, for instance, point in that direction, as if separating the three accused from their "connections" took a deal of doing.
Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough read from a document that said a former provincial deputy minister had approached the police and had alleged he believed Harris and Berardino had received confidential information leaked from Doman Industries. A little later McCullough added that it appears the former deputy minister was doing work for Doman Industries and so were Berardino/Harris and Pilothouse - Kierans and Bornmann. All that may be coincidental, but Defence has questions.
McCullough went on to report that Josiah Wood, briefly Special Crown Prosecutor (to December 8, 2003), had withdrawn because of conflict. Was the conflict investigated by police, especially if clients of the firm for which Wood worked were BC Rail, the TD Bank, CIBC, and the chair of BC Rail? (All involved, in some way, with the sale of BC Rail.)
McCullough refers to Gary Collins, B.C. Liberal Finance Minister at the time of the raids. Collins employed Dave Basi as his senior ministerial assistant. "Mr. Collins was a [RCMP] target December 5, 9, 12" of 2003. And McCullough quotes from one report of that time that RCMP, apparently, are to "assist with determination of Mr. Collins culpability".
It was not long after that the RCMP announced that no elected people were under investigation, though they took almost a full year to frame charges against the accused.
Mr. McCullough's remarks, overall, may have pointed to the RCMP as a "broken" organization and one that (as with the RCMP Reform Implementation Council) is more interested in cosmetics and disguised loyalties than in assuring the rule of law. All through the hearings dealing with the Basi, Virk, and Basi case the role of the RCMP has been doubtful. And all through the time of the hearings dealing with the Basi, Virk, and Basi case news in the country about the RCMP has been causing Canadians more and more concern. The Basi, Virk, and Basi case - now delayed by Crown appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada - may seem to be a strange, unique victim of off-the-rail (pun intended) RCMP investigations. But it may be, rather, quite normal for an RCMP investigation that involves people in power and wrong-doing.
November 29, 2008
A timeline published Nov. 28 to accompany stories about the trial of Dave Basi and Bob Virk included photographs of Liberal organizer Mark Marissen and former cabinet minister Christy Clark. When RCMP visited Marissen in 2003, they gave him a letter stating he was not implicated in the investigation but might have been the innocent recipient of some documents. Marissen advises he has had no contact with them since. The Vancouver Sun has no information to suggest that either Marissen or Clark are central figures in this matter, and the inclusion of their photographs was inappropriate.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
but no, I hadn't seen this clarification nor did I see the photographs it refers to ... probably because I get the on-line Vancouver Sun.
Your kindly provision of this item did present a dilemma, however: is it OK to reprint in full a copyrighted item? No, it isn't ...
but on the other hand this item does provide a benefit to the photographees so it seems to be acceptable in the circumstances ... anybody with a different view?