Thursday, November 20, 2008

 

You decide: is this a conspiracy?

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If you scroll down to Yesterday in Supreme Court ... you'll see that I posted a report by Neal Hall and recommended it as having "Good details and explanations". Neal Hall's main story was published in full on November 19 in Vancouver Sun online under the headline: Basi Virk Case back in court Monday for a 3-week hearing.

All was as it should be.

So ... this morning, I was shocked to see Vancouver Sun and discover that Neal Hall’s long online piece on Basi-Virk has been chopped down to just four sentences!! And the title is changed by removing the names of Basi and Virk! You'd hardly notice the story now:

Vancouver Sun, Nov. 20, 2008: Political corruption case back in court Monday.

I’m not a media conspiracy theorist but this is a bit thick. And once you start looking, there's more:

The Province has NO story whatsoever, even though a Province reporter, Keith Fraser, was in attendance at the BC Supreme Court hearing for Basi & Virk. Is there an echo in the room? I seem to hear the voice of another CanWest editor who had sent a journalist into a previous Basi-Virk hearing, published nothing, and when I complained, she told me "When there's news, we plan to publish it."

Victoria Times-Colonist did more: it took Hall’s shortened 133 word piece and sawed it off again, down to 123 words! Two other points: CKNW AM 980 had a reporter there yesterday who filed a story – but there was no one from The Canadian Press. Of course, CanWest Global quit Canadian Press some time ago as an economy measure (ha!), so their stories don’t go on the CP wire service. That means non-CanWest media don’t get any reporting about Basi-Virk.

The Cone of Official Silence is in place.


But why would anybody want to suppress the news of the B.C. Government Corruption Trial? And hey, don't tell me it's a crazy Conspiracy Theory ... it's already laid out for us, plain as day.

- BC Mary.

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PUT ON YOUR SHERLOCK HOLMES HAT AND STUDY THE EVIDENCE:

Below is Neal Hall’s complete online story. Below that, is the truncated print version. How do you feel about the information that was removed? Why was it removed?


Basi-Virk case back in court Monday for three-week hearing

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - Wednesday, November 19, 2008

VANCOUVER - The case involving three former government aides accused of corruption was briefly in court today (Wednesday) to confirm the Crown and defence are ready to proceed with a three-week hearing next Monday.

The lawyers will make legal arguments next week concerning a defence "vetting" application that seeks the release of government documents and RCMP records.

The court was told that since a Sept. 29 disclosure order by the court, about 4,000 additional documents have been disclosed to the defence - documents over which the Crown had previously claimed either solicitor-client privilege or litigation privilege.

Now remaining are 376 documents that have not been disclosed because of privilege claims.
The trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett, was told Wednesday by special prosecutor Bill Berardino that the provincial Crown has narrowed down its privilege claims to 12 government documents.

The federal Crown is asserting privilege on 364 RCMP documents, including four that involve legal opinions from Department of Justice lawyers to the Mounties.

The documents in dispute have not been seen by the defence. The judge has all the documents and will "vet" them to decide which are relevant to the case and whether they should be disclosed to the defence.
The document disclosure process has dragged on for two years. The case is roughly a month away from being five years old - the RCMP executed search warrants on the legislature on Dec. 28, 2003.

At the time, police said a drug investigation led to spin-off probe of alleged corruption of government officials but no politicians.

The former government aides facing trial, Dave Basi and Bob Virk, are accused of accepting a benefit, fraud and breach of trust related to the $1-billion privatization sale of BC Rail freight operations in 2003 to Canadian National Railway.

A third former government aide, Basi's cousin, Aneal Basi, is accused of money-laundering.
At the time, Dave Basi was an assistant to finance minister Collins and Virk was an assistant to transportation minister Judith Reid. Aneal Basi worked in government communications.

The defence also filed a motion this week, to be argued next Monday, requesting that the federal Crown file an affidavit to itemize which RCMP documents have been disclosed to the defence that contain overlapping material in documents not yet disclosed.

Defence lawyer Michael Bolton explained outside court that it is difficult to argue the need to obtain documents that the defence has not been able to view.

"It is desirable to argue it no more blindly than necessary," he explained to reporters.

The defence asserts that the federal Crown has waived privilege over documents still not released because documents related to the same subject already have been released.

Federal prosecutor Paul Riley told the judge he will argue the issue Monday.

Berardino also pointed out to the judge that the special prosecutor is still waiting to hear from the Supreme Court of Canada whether the court will grant the Crown leave to appeal an earlier ruling by the trial judge on informer privilege.

He said he expects the court to make a decision within the next two weeks. If granted, the lawyers expect the appeal to be heard sometime next spring.

The informer privilege issue arose a year ago when the special prosecutor wanted to have evidence called during an in-camera hearing, which would have excluded the defence, the accused and the public; the matter related to the disclosure of documents concerning a confidential informant in the case.

In a ruling last December, Bennett dismissed the Crown's application, deciding that defence counsel should be present in court, citing a previous ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada called Named Person vs. The Vancouver Sun.

The Crown appealed the ruling. In a split 2-1 decision last July, the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld Bennett's ruling. The Crown now is seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Basi-Virk case is set to begin next January with pre-trial Charter challenges on the admissibility of wiretap evidence and evidence gained from search warrants.

Defence lawyer Michael McCullough pointed out Wednesday to the judge that the defence has made applications under the Freedom of Information Act for access to government documents.

"The disclosure that we've got has been extremely voluminous," the lawyer told the court, "The process is winding down. We haven't got everything but we're getting closer."

Once the process is complete, the defence plans to argue a third-party records application for disclosure of documents withheld under the FOI process.

nhall@vancouversun.com

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Political corruption case back in court Monday

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The case involving three former government aides accused of corruption was briefly in court Wednesday to confirm the Crown and defence are ready to proceed with a three-week hearing next Monday.

The former government aides facing trial, Dave Basi and Bob Virk, are accused of accepting a benefit, fraud and breach of trust related to the $1-billion privatization sale of BC Rail freight operations in 2003 to Canadian National Railway. A third former government aide, Basi's cousin, Aneal Basi, is accused of money-laundering.

The court was told that since a Sept. 29 disclosure order, about 4,000 additional documents have been given to the defence -- documents over which the Crown had previously claimed either solicitor-client privilege or litigation privilege.

Still remaining are 376 documents that have not been disclosed because of privilege claims.

nhall@vancouversun.com

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Strange thing: I just received a Google Alert about a Basi-Virk item from way back in April 21, 2007, which mentions what an excellent reporter Neal Hall is ... interesting co-incidence, eh? - BC Mary



RCMP SHOW THEIR INCOMPETENCE ONCE AGAIN?

From VoiceOnLine.com
http:www.voiceonline.com/voice/070421/headline10.php

When will the Mounties learn to do important investigations properly! They bungled up in the Glen Clark investigation. They bungled up in the Air India investigation. They can't seem to wrap up the investigation against former MP Gurmant Grewal even after more than a year. Now they seemed to have bungled up in the Basi's-Virk case if allegations by defence lawyer Kevin McCullough turn out to be true.

He argued this week as the criminal trial kicked off that then RCMP Sgt. Kevin Debruyckere was biased because he was the brother-in-law of B.C. Liberal Party executive director Kelly Reichert who worked with then finance minister Gary Collins, for whom Dave Basi was working at the time, and Premier Gordon Campbell - and this RCMP officer only disclosed his relationship to his bosses in early 2004. If that is true, this will be another black mark against the RCMP that has been rocked by one scandal after another recently.

Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton told the media outside court that one of the problems with the investigation was the inducements that were apparently offered to Erik Bormann before he admitted to bribing Basiin a statement to the police.

The Vancouver Sun's Neal Hall, an excellent crime reporter with whom I have worked, is covering the trial and his coverage is excellent. I suggest you follow his coverage over the next few months.

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Comments:
I wonder if there is anyone out there that can advise if the full article by Neal Hall was in the printed media today.

I'm certainly not sure that I would blame Hall for this butcher job. We have seen before, a reporter (John Daley)pleading with his editors to file a story from the courthouse. And Harv Oberfeld has pointed the finger to editors who we are all convinced are political hacks for this government and by all appearances are doing the bidding of their owners.
I think this hacking is proof positive to our belief that this trial is being well hidden from the people. And is being done so by the news giants of this country.
There has to be a way to wake up the masses. My own family is so bent on what is going on I can't believe it. They appear to believe only what they hear in the news. And the news nowadays is so devoid of all the facts that I allege it borders on criminal.
Reading the Mainstream Media at least in this province is an exercise in futility.
And Mary it looks like I typed this before I signed in.
 
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Gary dear ... whoa!!! Nobody is blaming Neal Hall for the fact that his story got butchered. I would imagine he was some steamed to discover it ... after it was done.

I think you got it dead-right, in what yu say about the awesome process of getting the news out to the public in the best possible light.

In recent talk about CanWest's financial trouble, reports came out that 85% of their income is derived from advertisers and 15% from subscriptions. So the simple math explains a bit ... but not everything.

For example, Toronto Star still has shreds of its former glory as an Atkinson newspaper in which it pledges to serve the public interest first.

I keep hoping that CanWest may be tempted to alleviate its debt overload by selling one of its B.C. daily newspapers ... and that (OK, I'm dreaming here ...) some entity representing normal people will take over. Could happen. Why couldn't it happen? Ya think we couldn't do it? Well, to borrow a phrase from that nice lad to the south of us:

Yes, we can!

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Sorry Mary. I didn't mean to infer that Neal was at fault. I was just anticipating that some who read this may.
My personal opinion is that Neal is a very good reporter. I don't usually see him slanting his columns to slag the NDP when the liberals screw up.
As far as the 85% advertising revenue goes. Every once in a while I get so mad at the papers for their bias I write an advertiser to inform him that I won't buy the product I see advertised in those papers. Probably isn't much but if thousands of others did it, things might change.
 
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Gary, thanks as always for your comments.

I received a note from Neal Hall in which he said -- words to the effect that -- online stories have the luxury of unlimited space, while stories published in print form are limited.

I hate to be the Grinch, but I interpreted this as Neal being Mr Nice Guy and defending CanWest. With full credit to Neal, it was an "Easy for you to say" kind of response. Which reflects another form of brutal reality.

You may be wondering what I mean by that. Well, it's unrelated but also unavoidable, in my view ... there's a crime story out of Toronto this morning which has a very, very different set of "crime" circumstances than we usually read about. Different because each of us can relate to it. In a very real sense, we can gasp "That could've happened in MY neighbourhood ... or even ... oh, no! Not to MY family!"

Brutal fact is: 4 people are lying dead in the pleasant home they've occupied for over 30 years. 4 people and the family dog.

Well-known and well-liked by their neighbours, the Dad recently retired. Overwhelmed by finding themselves facing destitution not as a result of their own bad decisions but because they had just re-mortgaged their house to pay for an elderly grandma's care as well as for increased costs of a disabled son's medication ... all tough choices but within reason only a month ago.

Then the Dad found, this past month, that their home and their investment savings are now worth only half of what they thought but the mortgage debt remains the same and getting bigger by the day.

So the Dad (police say) took what must've seemed the only way out ...

So when is an act of desperation a crime? When is a crime fully our fault for believing what the newspapers say about Golden Eras and booming economies and how bureaucrats are "worth" their pay raises ... while real people face destitution and humiliation?

I know ... I'm digressing ... but today's reality is that society must be taken as a whole, don't you think? And things like that $1Billion (that's $1,000,000,000.00) for Olympic Games Security and a $400Million Convention Centre overrun and a bottomless pit where Olympic Athletes' Village piggy banks should be ... and HOW THE NEWS IS REPORTED, IF IT'S REPORTED AT ALL ... things like that take on a whole different aspect.

Don't you think so?

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I do want to weigh in on this one, and yes I do think so, and have done for so long I forget when it started for me.

It think often and long how it is that North American society has been so accepting of the institutions that hold sway over our very lives, and yet we, as a society rarely react until some major crisis hits us where it hurts: the pocket book

Given that the groundwork for political skulduggery of the sort we now experience was laid way back in the late 70’s and early 80’s with Thatcher and Reaganism at the behest of the same Dear folks who have brought you/us the world wide economic melt down by their greed it is small wonder there are not more incidents like the one in Toronto.
There was one such case in Kelowna BC several years back when due to cutbacks a family of three fell victim to similar circumstances.

I respect that this site is up because of the corruption and unheard of national police raid on a house of government. It is however most difficult to hold solely to that aspect as there is so much intertwining in the fabric of to-day’s society.
 
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Hi Anon 6:11,

Thanks for this. I think it's when you try to figure out what a conspiracy means, the concept seems to fall apart.

Would you consider commenting again, and talk about why you think the police raided the Legislature.

In what way do you think that Basi and Virk are different from the many others involved in the sell-off of BCRail, that they alone face criminal charges?

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6:11,

Two things:

1) Most of us know or suspect that there are prevailing economic winds that fill the sails of some, while pushing other less fortunate boaters onto the rocks. We know it as a fact o'life called capitalism or fascism. We do our best with what we've got.

2) I'm no good at riddles, especially riddles which demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt and which are vitally important. And BCSCC Case #23299 is a very specific opportunity to see into the heart of that process. No time for games.

So if you have a theory, let's hear it. No 17th century poetry, either, thank you.

Meantime, for today right here and now and relative to the Basi-Virk Trial, I have a red-hot posting stuck in the back shop which -- when I can overcome the computer problems -- I think you'll like a lot.

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