Friday, January 30, 2009


Two BC tragedies and a possible 3rd, with same characters, same old plot-line

[Worthington Mackenzie pulp mill, which has been in the news lately, is shown in the photo accompanying this Vancouver Sun article in a beautiful, level, waterfront setting on the south end of Williston Lake. It is a small-size pulpmill (it could almost be a hotel), with a healthy forest all around. Very nice. A resort with condos or a casino spring to mind. Check out Mackenzie's tourist offerings here. See original article for the aerial view -- the visual impact is worth remembering -- as you read this story. Special thanks to Vancouver Sun for the news reports. - BC Mary]

Mortgage terms doomed Mackenzie mill from the start
Financier charged buyer 42 per cent a year


The Alberta owner of the Mackenzie pulp mill financed the purchase with a mortgage charging interest at 42 per cent a year, a rate that points to the likelihood of the venture failing, say industry specialists.

According to documents obtained by The Vancouver Sun, Worthington Mackenzie founder Dan White took out a $10-million short-term mortgage on the Mackenzie mill at a rate of 3.5 per cent a month through Chilliwack financier and developer Bernie Van Maren.

“There’s no way that anybody writes a debt instrument at 42 per cent with any expectation that they are actually going to collect that money,” said financier Richard Bassett, instrumental in restarting the Port Alice pulp mill in 2006.

“It highlights the risk involved,” said Paul Quinn, forestry analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

The 42-per-cent mortgage rate adds one more intriguing element to a sad tale that has left the province of B.C. on the hook for millions in Mackenzie pulp mill costs and liabilities and the town of Mackenzie without its last major employer.

The B.C. government stepped in last Sunday under emergency measures of the Environmental Management Act after Worthington Mackenzie idled the mill and the 45 people still working there. The government ordered staff to stay on the job to prevent tanks containing 15 tonnes of deadly chlorine dioxide from bursting in the cold. If the tanks were to rupture, a toxic cloud of chlorine gas could spread from the mill to the nearby town.

The global financial collapse, which tightened credit markets worldwide, is the primary cause of the mill failure.

In an e-mail to The Sun, Van Maren said the short-term mortgage financing “was intended to be repaid from a long-term financing facility (which was to include an operating line).”

White is still trying to get long-term financing.

The mill, which employed 250 people when it was operating, has been on a long, slow slide that began well before the government intervened.

It was initially a casualty of the collapse of venerable forest giant Pope & Talbot, which sought creditor protection in 2007.

The mill was sold in September for $6.5 million to White, an Edmonton developer with no background in forestry and a past that includes a conviction for money laundering. He used a chain of companies, which have only one director and no executive officers, to make the purchase.

The attorney-general’s ministry is now trying to trace the corporate links back to a company with the cash to recover the costs of running the mill.

The purchase was recommended by the receiver in charge of the sale, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and approved by the B.C. Supreme Court without any objection from the province, which was an intervener in the insolvency hearings. Mill workers in the northern resource town were initially ecstatic when Mackenzie sold, believing their jobs would soon be back and the town’s economy would be revived. Now they are angry.

“They have destroyed thousands of lives up here,” said former employee Rick Berry, referring to the court-approved sale of the pulp mill. “They are the professionals. We are supposed to put our trust in them. They let us down. And the Supreme Court approved it?”

Taxpayers are now paying an estimated $1 million a month to keep the mill’s chemicals from creating an environmental disaster. And if mill owner White, who bought it through shell company Worthington Mackenzie, fails to get fresh financing, the province will be saddled with $30 million to $50 million in environmental rehabilitation costs.

White was not available for comment Thursday. However, he sent The Sun an e-mail headed, “dealing and wheeling, not kneeling.” The e-mail reveals White is trying to sell assets.

The sale to White was recommended to the B.C. Supreme Court last summer by the receiver after an earlier deal to Asia Pulp & Paper fell apart. Further, the $6.5-million price was for a mill that had been stripped of its fibre supply — a crucial element in any plan to restart it — in a side-deal between the receiver and Canfor Corp., which held the fibre supply licence.

Don Lamoureux, owner of Faltech Resources Canada, a Prince George company that put a proposal together on the mill that included the fibre supply, wondered how PWC failed to do a background check on White.

“They did a thorough background check on us,” he said.

The province also could have stopped the process at any time, said Bassett. The B.C. government had already set the precedent. It stepped in earlier by urging the court to take into account bigger issues — employment — in determining the fate of Pope & Talbot’s Harmac pulp mill.

The court ultimately approved a bid by Harmac workers who were investing their own money to keep the mill operating.

“The province could have made its concerns known to the judge just as they did in the Harmac case. The judge could then have said the court would like to see the business case on how [Worthington Mackenzie] is going to do this.”

And now, for something completely different only pretty much the same, here is the Vancouver Sun's story of how the law failed the families of Shirley Rosette and Gerald Foisy [and by the same process, many people believe that the law is also in danger of failing us in the BC Rail Case]. - BC Mary.

Ferry sinking: We may never know what happened


VANCOUVER -- The public may never hear what actually happened aboard the Queen of the North ferry the night it hit Gil Island and sank, killing two people, because the family of the victims can’t afford B.C.’s exorbitant court fees.

Vancouver lawyer Peter Ritchie said an out-of-court settlement was reached in the case when it became clear the law was stacked against the family and the costs of going to court were too prohibitive.

En route from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on March 22, 2006, the ferry left its intended path down Granville Channel for 14 minutes and went a mile off course before smashing into the island.

Ninety-nine people were rescued and taken to Hartley Bay.

BC Ferries admitted liability for the deaths of Shirley Rosette, 42, and her partner, Gerald Foisy, 46, who are presumed to have drowned.

The two crew members named in the suit — fourth officer Karl Lilgert and quartermaster Karen Bricker — also acknowledged liability.

Foisy's children, 19-year-old Brittni Lee and 15-year-old Morgan Taylor, who live in Penticton with their mother, Lana Foisy, had hoped to learn what happened the night of the sinking.

Now they won’t.

They were forced to settle out of court, said Ritchie, who acted as their lawyer, because they did not have at least $55,000 to pay up front the required fees and witness costs.

“If one of your loved ones dies because of grossly negligent actions aboard a B.C. ferry, don’t go looking for justice in the province of British Columbia,” Ritchie complained Thursday to a packed media conference.

“Unless you are wealthy in B.C. you cannot go to court. The people of B.C. will never get a chance to hear in court why or how two people died in the Queen of the North disaster. Very sadly, two lovely teenage girls from Penticton will never know what happened to their father. The two girls loved their father and our so-called justice system has let them down.”

He did not divulge the amount of the settlement.

Ritchie called the situation that forced the girls to abandon their search for answers “scandalous” and “monstrously unfair.”

Liability falls under the Marine Act, he explained, which sets an upper limit of damages at $330,000 in a judge-alone trial unless recklessness can be proven — a near impossible task under the law as it is written.

A jury would not be restricted by precedent, Ritchie said.

Once a jury heard the facts of this case, he thought its award would be higher — “very favourable towards the girls,” an award to make the ferry company “sit up.”

In his opinion, the case exposed the sorry state of the law covering the tragedy, the outrageous fees charged in B.C. and the hard-hearted ethics of BC Ferries.

Rosette's family, who had been part of the litigation, settled earlier this month.

Until now, many thought the truth about the sinking would be revealed at the wrongful-death civil trial set to begin Monday when those responsible would be compelled to testify in open court and be cross-examined on their actions.

B.C. is the only province in Canada that charges courtroom fees that are prohibitive. To rent the courtroom was going to cost the girls $15,000 — up front, Ritchie said.

As well, their right to a jury trial was dependent upon paying $25,000 — again, up front — even though jurors get a pittance. That’s $40,000 just for starters.

Ritchie said he estimated it would cost another $15,000 at least to pay for the 14 witnesses from BC Ferries to travel from Prince Rupert to Vancouver to attend the trial. He said he asked the ferry corporation to pay the costs of its employees given the situation, but it refused.

Those costs are on top of fees such as the $208 charged to stamp the writ and the $208 added on for getting on the trial list, Ritchie said.

In Alberta, trial fees would have totalled $800, he figured, in Ontario, $645. Saskatchewan charges $15 an hour and its jury fees are fixed at $200.

Ritchie said he believes BC Ferries did not want a jury or the public to hear all the facts about what happened:

The woman at the helm didn’t have a clue what she was doing; there were two instead of three people as required by regulation on the bridge and perhaps only one; the ferry was travelling with its watertight doors open, against its policy; there apparently was no evacuation plan; cabins and some areas of the ship were not searched to ensure all the passengers got off.

The crew didn’t know what cabins had been searched because they couldn’t find the chalk they were supposed to use to mark a big X on those that had been cleared; they didn’t have pencils or flashlights so they couldn’t do an accurate headcount; and there was evidence of illegal drug use by the crew.

Needless to say the crew of 42 all got off safely.

There were only 59 passengers aboard — there could have been 650, and this could have turned into one of the worst maritime disasters the coast has seen.

Although the crew members were fired, no one has been held accountable for the systemic problems revealed by this tragedy — the ferry travelling with its doors open, the common use of drugs on board the ship, the lack of discipline, the lack of an evacuation plan…

The ferry corporation has avoided scrutiny in spite of the indications it was rolling the dice with public safety.

Ritchie said he didn’t understand why the provincial government had not called a public inquiry.

So far, there have been only rumours about what happened on the bridge before the crash between Lilgert and Bricker, former lovers working their first night shift together after breaking up.

The Transportation Safety Board, in its report, said the two were distracted by a “personal conversation” before the ferry sank while on autopilot.

Ritchie pointed to Grouse Mountain across Burrard Inlet from his downtown Vancouver office — “Gil Island looks like that mountain and they ran roughly from here to there at high speed for 14 minutes and smashed into it.”

Other crew members putatively heard Bricker later say: “It’s not my fault, it’s not my fault, oh my God ... I was alone.”

Ritchie said BC Ferries threw up roadblocks every step of the way, even refusing to acknowledge the couple had died aboard the ship, forcing the family to obtain a judicial ruling that they were dead.

BC Ferries did not have an immediate response Thursday to Ritchie’s comments.


Read another Vancouver story about the law in B.C., "Infringing Civil rights ..." Ian Mulgrew reports on well-known Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward's battle for redress after his wrongful arrest.

Again: Very special thanks to Vancouver Sun for two outstanding news stories.

- BC Mary.


Thursday, January 29, 2009


" ... since the day they sold BC Rail ..."


Today French citizens are crowding the streets of Paris, enraged by their government giving massive "bail-out" funds to the banks, but nothing for citizens. Government corruption in Zimbabwe has destroyed their currency so that only foreign money is of value to them. In Britain, construction workers are marching in protest because some financial genius brought in foreign labour to do their jobs -- even bringing in floating accommodation for the foreign workers. The best item on tonight's BBC News was the new monument in Baghdad called "Spirit of Iraq" -- a replica of the shoes hurled at the man who started this world-wide melt-down.

And then I was told about this speech given in our own Legislature at 2:00 AM on January 17, 2009. It may rip your heart out, but it will leave you smiling. Here is Corky Evans, M.L.A. for Nelson-Creston, speaking on Bill 47, the legislation authorizing City of Vancouver to borrow millions for completion of the Olympic Athletes' Village, and asking "Why?":

C. Evans: I rise to speak precisely to the narrowly focused issue of Bill 47 ...

We are here talking about Bill 47. Bill 47 was requested by a mayor who I like and respect and was brought into the House by a minister who I'd like to congratulate for having his job. I like and respect that gentleman too. The mayor of Vancouver is the only politician I know where I ever walked into a farmer's barn and in the loft was an "Elect this man" sign for the mayor of Vancouver. I don't know farmers that put up election posters for politicians, and I think it's because the mayor of Vancouver was once himself a vegetable grower in the Fraser Valley.

He's asked us to come here and to pass this bill, Bill 47. The minister who brought the bill into the House is a gentleman I respect because he got to be a minister by sitting down there and actually saying what he thought instead of what he was told to say — a rare commodity in this House.

Bill 47 is about funding for an event, the Olympics, which I think we all love — especially the Winter Olympics. I remember sitting with my family and watching Elizabeth Manley make Canada proud. So we have a bill brought in by a guy I like, asked for by a mayor I respect, about an event that I think everybody here loves, and the total event sucks.

The debate debases what we are and what we do here. The fact that we have to have the debate at…. It is now ten minutes to two o'clock in the morning. It's an appalling insult to the people who will pay the bill. Good people asked for and bring in a piece of legislation to allow, to accommodate, to create an event — the Olympics — that we all believe in, and it is an embarrassment to be an elected politician and participate in this. How can this be? That's a massive contradiction.

I'd like to try to explain that contradiction. In fact, I think explaining that contradiction to the people at home, who I'm sure don't understand Bill 47…. I hope it is the purpose of this speech. How on earth did we get here, with the good intentions of putting on an event, to host the world, which we believe in? How did we get to this moment at ten minutes to two o'clock in the morning, trying to borrow a half a billion dollars to backstop a bunch of people who have walked from the project 90 days from its supposed conclusion?

I'm pretty old, so this event sort of has antecedents in my political memory. We, one time, hosted the world before — eh? Remember Expo 86? British Columbia — in fact, the same town, the town of Vancouver — said to the world: "Come on here." How did we organize that? We went and got a guy, Jimmy Pattison, and we paid him $1 to manage the event, to put it on, to host the world, to make us proud in the city of Vancouver. I don't think they had to come….


C. Evans: It's okay. Let them rage. The people can see who they are.

I don't think they had to meet at two o'clock in the morning in 1986 in order to attempt to backstop what Mr. Pattison was doing. I think maybe this time, when we're hosting the Olympics, we did it a little different.

Instead of getting a British Columbian to work for $1, we decided to give this project to something called a hedge fund. We decided to turn the athletes village, the part of False Creek that we're going to put 850 people from the world in, into the hands of something called a hedge fund from New York. Not a British Columbian working for a dollar, answering to a Premier, coming in here and being proud of it, but to a hedge….

I kind of think the people at home at ten minutes to two in the morning might want to know why. How come? If it used to be that we could do it with a citizen of our own province working for a nominal sum just because he's proud to be a British Columbian, how come we turned it over to something they don't understand, called a hedge fund, in New York?

That is the function of this debate on Bill 47. It's why, not what. How on earth did we get here? The answer to that question is that the present government, the Liberal government, aren't Social Crediters or New Democrats. They are a brand-new kind of administration in British Columbia that we've never seen before.

The people who used to govern and sit in that chair governed for us, governed this land, and believed they were responsible to the citizens at home watching, the citizens who own this land.

We've got a government who has decided that its function is to sell this land, a government who has lost its sense of pride at being British Columbian and has said to the world: "We're pretty sure that if you're from New York or Bonn, Germany or Tokyo, you can do it better than we can. We can't build our own ships. We can't run our own railroad. We can't run our own electric company." We will sell the creeks and the rivers, we'll lease the railroad for 999 years, and we'll get our ships from Germany, because we no longer believe in British Columbia.

So if we can host the Olympics, let's get something called a hedge fund, from New York, to do what Jim Pattison used to do for $1. It is an ideological mindset that none of the folks at home have ever seen before. What are we doing here at ten minutes to two in the morning attempting to backstop strangers we will never meet, who have decided to abandon us in the building of the Olympics to host the world?

Hon. Speaker, I would like to help the folks at home. I walked in here, and I've got to admit — I'm an MLA; I'm 61 years old — that I had no idea what a hedge fund is. I would bet that the majority of the members on the opposite side who signed the contract to do the deal don't know what a hedge fund is. I'm betting that of three million people in British Columbia, 99.9 percent of you could never afford to meet these people, never mind do a deal with them.

So I looked it up: what is a hedge fund? Remember, a lot of intelligent people say that when something's going on that you don't understand, the way to figure it out is to follow the money. So who did we decide to do our contract with? We decided to do it with something called a hedge fund. That's not a bank or a credit union. That's not borrowing from your neighbour. It's some kind of an institution which is defined in the encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

It says that a hedge fund is "a private investment fund open to a limited range of investors that is permitted by regulators to undertake a wider range of activities and other investment funds. It also pays a performance fee to the investment manager. As the name implies, hedge funds often seek to offset potential losses in the principal markets they invest in by hedging their investments using a variety of methods, most notably short-selling" and to participate in "funds using short-selling and other 'hedging' methods…." This is the important part: "…other 'hedging' methods to increase rather than reduce risk, with the expectation of increasing return."

I wonder if the folks out there in British Columbia understood that instead of hiring a British Columbian to do this project, we went to New York and got a firm that is in the business of increasing risk rather than reducing it, in order to increase income.

Now, hedge funds are typically only open to a limited range of professional or wealthy investors. This provides them with an exemption, in many jurisdictions, from regulations governing short-selling, derivative contracts, leverage, fee structures and the liquidity of interest in the fund.

In other words, we are here debating Bill 47, which is going to backstop a bunch of people who increased risk in order to get a better return on investment. Why? Because of the ideological mindset of the folks who have been governing British Columbia for seven years, who think that dealing with the robber barons of the world is better business than trusting our own people. That's what we're doing here at two o'clock in the morning. We're trying to figure out how to deal with the facts that we did a deal with the robber barons and they have backed out.

Now, follow the money. Bill 47 — we're here to debate Bill 47. Follow the money. What kind of a hedge fund? Which hedge fund that increases risk…? Somebody with a…. It's a great, beautiful name — Fortress Investment Group. Now, there's a George Bush title if I ever heard….The Fortress Investment Group. We gave a contract to the Fortress Investment Group to build the athletes village.

Did you debate it in here, hon. Speaker? I know I'm not supposed to ask you rhetorical questions. Did any of you members ever come in here and say: "Should we or should we not give a contract to somebody called the Fortress Investment Group in New York to build the athletes village for this event that we're all…"? I don't remember that debate. I remember secrecy. I remember people on the other side saying P3s are good because they reduce government risk.

At one minute to two we are here taking to the people of British Columbia all the risk that Fortress Investment Group was allowed to avoid by the contract that they signed in secrecy, without public exposure, with the government of British Columbia.

Who is Fortress Investment Group? It's "a New York–based asset management firm which manages private equity hedge funds and real estate and railroad-related investments, with announced plans to move into casinos and horse racing." Oh, those are good guys for the athletes village — the real estate and railroad company with announced intentions to move into casinos. There are some folks who will take our risk off our hands, eh?

I don't think, had we debated that in the House before we signed the contract, there'd be a single person from either side who would have said: "Oh yeah, that's better than a British Columbia bank or a Canadian credit union or the B.C. people. Let's get a horse-racing company and see if they'll build our athletes village." And now we're debating Bill 47.

Let's follow the money to see how we got here. What could possibly be the connection of Fortress Investment Group to the people of British Columbia, to the people we represent? Well, I guess there is a connection. If you follow the money, you find a connection. The connection would be that in 2006 Fortress Investment Group bought a company called Intrawest.

Now, who's Intrawest? Let's follow the money. In 1986 Intrawest acquired Blackcomb Mountain. Ten years later Intrawest acquired Whistler Mountain to form Whistler-Blackcomb, which is the venue of the 2010 Olympics. Follow the money. We did a deal with a hedge fund, who I submit on the record are the robber barons who are essentially responsible for the speculation in the world economy that has created the crash we're experiencing right now.

We did the deal with Fortress, which it turns out owns Whistler-Blackcomb. Then, in a development that defies understanding, Fortress decides that it's too broke to continue to advance the money to build the athletes village, but it's still rich enough to own Whistler-Blackcomb.

Now, at two minutes after two, we are here debating Bill 47. What does it say? I submit that what it says is that the people of Vancouver are going to backstop the company that is hosting the Olympics. I submit on the record here, at two minutes after two, that there is not even a contract with these robber barons that guarantees that we'll hold the Olympics at Whistler-Blackcomb.

We are being asked, in the narrow confines of Bill 47, to assist the good mayor, written by the good minister, to give the right to borrow to the people of Vancouver to backstop a New York company that owns Whistler-Blackcomb and hasn't agreed yet to let us hold the Olympics there.

When I was a little boy, one day at church the minister was at the front giving a sermon about usury. I was a little boy. I didn't have the slightest idea. I went home and said to my mom: "Mom, what's usury?" She said: "It's a sin." I said: "Yeah, but what's it mean?" And she said: "Well, that's kind of like when you loan some money to your friend and charge him more than 10 percent."

I was a little boy. I believed my mom. I've thought ever since that usurers were those crooks you see on late-night movies or the bad guys you read about in the Bible. It turns out that the usurers are the Fortress Investment Co. The city of Vancouver is paying them 11 percent on the money that Fortress refuses to advance to finish the contract on the village they agreed to build.

At five minutes now after two we're all coming here to vote on the narrowly written nature of Bill 47 to give the city of Vancouver the right to borrow the money to backstop the robber barons…. Every time we come in here, we, from our perspective — and the folks that govern from theirs — debate this idea of the public ownership and public initiatives and projects against the private.

I've been doing this ever since they sold B.C. Rail and sold off land in the tree farms and tore apart B.C. Hydro and ordered ships from Germany. It goes on and on and on — over in Maple Ridge, trying to stop them from bisecting the farm with the German P3 road. But every time I raise it, what do the ministers get up and say?

Come on. Shout it out. You say: "You stupid socialist. We have to do this to reduce the people's risk." Every single time we raise the issue, members in the government say: "P3s are the way to reduce risk."

It is now five minutes after two, and we are here taking on half a billion, maybe $800 million worth of debt for the city of Vancouver to backstop private industries' risk. It is dishonest to say that the P3, the private process that led us to Fortress, protects the people against risk. We are here. This entire debate is the Legislature of British Columbia embracing to our bosom the risk that private industry has reneged on, paying usurious interest rates to them every day until we take it back.

From this day on there should never be another minister or Premier with the gall to stand up and say that the P3 process, the private industry process, absolves the people of risk, because the government — that government — has brought us here today to take the risk back to the people because the New York hedge firm no longer sees a profit.

Hon. Speaker, I think that it's unparliamentary to say "lie," so I'm going to say that for seven years the people who governed this province have been mistaken. And now, tonight, they will understand, because they are the people who are bringing in the bill, asking the people to take back risk.

You will understand the mistake that you were led to, and in future you will understand that the people of British Columbia can manage their own affairs, run their own railroad, build their own ships, run their own power company and create electricity from their own creeks and rivers. It is wrong to say to the people of B.C. that by privatizing contracts, we off-load risk, because we are here at your request, taking it back and giving it to the city of Vancouver.

How much? What's it going to cost them? Bill 47 — let's speak to the bill. How much is it going to cost them? Is it going to cost them $250 million — the people of Vancouver? Is it going to cost them $300 million? What is the function of Bill 47 here? Is it $500 million? Is it wrong for an MLA to stand here and say: "We're debating the thing. What's it worth?"

Hon. Speaker, let them heckle. Let them shout. Let them write it down. What's it worth? How much risk are we taking back tonight and giving to the people of Vancouver? Is it a buck and a half?

Let the record show that nobody is shouting out an answer. Let the record show that they don't know. They don't know, hon. Speaker. We off-loaded the risk, and it turned out they can't make a profit, so we're taking it back.


C. Evans: Ah, let him go. It's two o'clock in the morning. It makes no sense. I can talk over him.


Deputy Speaker: Member. Member.

C. Evans: We took a beautiful project that I want to build. You want to build it? I think everybody here wants to build it. I want to see the Canadians in the Olympics, and I want to see our neighbours and friends around the world come here and say: "This is a beautiful place. This is a beautiful society. Look what they did."

But in secret, without coming in here and talking about it, somehow or other we decided to give a $500 million, $800 million, a billion-dollar deal to some people in New York that you never met, the ministers who are over there never met, I never met and the people of Vancouver never met. And then we said to them: "Oh, it's okay, you guys. If the rules change, we'll pay you 11 percent on your money."

I read the records. In the last five years they were making, at times, 30 percent on their investment because, of course, they're those professional and rich people that play with hedge funds. You know, if they were our class of people, we'd call them gamblers. But of course, they're professional people, so they're investors.

Then all of a sudden around the world those gamblers screw up the world economy with their speculative mortgages and their speculative stock values and by essentially gambling with money they don't have. And crash; it comes down. And all of a sudden the hedge fund doesn't have the money to keep its word.
Now, hon. Speaker, if this was happening in your life, if this was your landlord, your landlord couldn't say to you: "Oh, I can't pay the mortgage anymore, but you still have to pay me rent."

In this Legislature on this morning we are agreeing to Bill 47, which says that we will allow the city of Vancouver to backstop the debt, to borrow a sum of money which no one knows — more than a buck and a half and maybe as much as $800 million — to backstop a company that, it turns out, owns the venue on which we hope to host the world, and those people don't have to return that venue to the people of British Columbia. If this was your landlord, they'd lose the property. They could not renege on the loans without losing the property.

In this case Bill 47 says that we're going to backstop them, and they still get to own Blackcomb Whistler — that chunk of British Columbia. I submit, hon. Speaker, that every single person on that side and the Premier and all the people that work for him should understand that to ask the robber barons of the world to relieve us of risk is folly ...

I thought that none of the Big Media had reported on Corky's speech. But this email came in today. I sent thanks, and got Vaughn Palmer's OK to post it here. He said:

i wrote about corky's speech, calling it an early morning wakeup for government and opposition, in the column that was published on the front page monday Jan. 19.



Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Robin Mathews' Morning in Courtroom 65

... the law's delay,
The insolence of office.... (Hamlet)

Icy blasts blew through the wide Vancouver Supreme Court hallways into Courtroom 65. Some of us felt as if we were in a building from the Middle Ages. We believed the feeling was probably fitting, since the procedures are not unlike those of the Inquisition: involving secrecy, unexplained delays, sudden relocation of hearing venues, layers and layers and layers of hierarchy all claiming power to stop the case in one way and another, and - of course - the general public treated as an on-going and continuing nuisance.

And - despite the chill - heavy sparks were struck, tempers flared, and disagreements were strong....

What is done today will be followed on February 16 by an attempt to deal with hundreds of Cabinet documents which George Copley (counsel for Cabinet) will attempt to shield from public scrutiny.

The irony of the situation is truly right out of the Inquisition.

The RCMP, which is supposed to be our uncontaminated investigator and gatherer of evidence, has spent years preventing the Defence (and finally the people of British Columbia) from gaining access to the way in which RCMP has conducted itself in almost all aspects of the BC Rail Scandal.

The Cabinet - our highest expression of democratic trust - has, equally, used every trick in the trade to prevent the Defence (and finally the people of British Columbia) from knowing what Cabinet members did in relation to all aspects of the BC Rail Scandal (inside the courtroom and outside of it).

In sympathy with the icy blasts, proceedings were twenty minutes late starting - eight counsel in the court and one in the gallery, to begin. (One other joined the gallery audience later.) The delay allowed me time for some cultural observations.

The male counsel are graying and balding in various stages and seemingly comfortable with their condition. The five women in the room (lawyers, clerk, judge) all - as I could measure the situation - take enormous care with their hair - all of them tinting, dyeing and otherwise 'adjusting' the state of their "crowning glory" to defy the work of time. Does that mean that we are still so sexist we don't want to see naturally aging (graying) women in public position - and will reject them if they show age? A sociological question.

The morning was occupied principally with two documents which the Defence stated it wanted to be fully disclosed. In short, the documents in questions threw up major questions - questions that, finally, go to the heart of the cabinet's role in the Scandal. (1) In the planning of the raids on the legislature, who was involved? (2) Clearly, the Speaker of the House had to be - but he appears to have been avoided in order to consult with the Solicitor General. (The Speaker of the House is obviously not a member of cabinet, and so not in on "cabinet secrets".) (3) Were the RCMP told that it was proper procedure to consult the Speaker, and did they consciously avoid doing so?

It is a significant matter, Michael Bolton, for the Defence argued, if law enforcement decides to penetrate parliament. In that case, everything must be transparent. Very clearly it is not. By accident or design, three or four pages of excerpts from an RCMP folder called "Research, Parliamentary Privilege" came into the hands of Defence. Apart from the question of how RCMP/Prosecution released those pages to Defence, apparently they throw into question what else is in the document, what instructions RCMP decided to follow, what was the assessment of the Speaker as key agent to give permission. If RCMP consulted the Solicitor General, was the substance of their consultations shared with other members of cabinet?

Defence claims that it requested as early as August 2005 RCMP materials involving the search of the legislature offices, wanting officer notes and memoranda. All were denied by the Special Crown Prosecutor, William Berardino, under a claim of solicitor/client privilege.

The materials sought, according to Michael Bolton, for the Defence, were produced during the time in December 2003 when Omnitrax was being spoken of for a "consolation" prize"; Finance minister Gary Collins was under surveillance by RCMP; wire taps might have been used instead of legislature raids; the Speaker not involved in matters he should have been involved with, etc. (one being the first access gained for wire taps). There are still many unanswered questions (and, presumably, release of the documents shielded by the Special Crown Prosecutor could facilitate the gaining of answers to vital questions.)

Taking up the issues dealt with by Michael Bolton, Kevin McCullough for the Defence sharpened questioning. He proposed that the contradictions and the avoidances involving the RCMP invited questioners to try to get behind (what I took to be) the tactics of complicity. That last word brought Janet Winteringham to her feet with objection. Allegations are not acceptable. They belong well ahead in the case, not now during argument over disclosure. McCulloujgh insisted that the items of unclear behaviour have to be seen in the context of the events of the time, the intentions of the RCMP to get information in ways which may not be acceptable, the political manipulations going on - by cabinet members.

He said, in addition, that by September of 2008, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett was about to rule that the two or three and a half year denial of documents was improper, and so Berardino removed all claims to privilege in order to avoid that ruling. Once again, Janet Winteringham objected. McCullough went on to say that despite that change of direction, the material in the "Research, Parliamentary Privilege" was neither released nor was it entered anywhere in the inventory of materials not released. That prompted McCullough to ask if there are more documents neither released nor listed as not released. To prove his point he read from correspondence between himself and Berardino in which Berardino declares all the material asked for in 2005 is released.

In an attempt to maintain her "uninvolved referee" position, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett stated that what Defence was after was whether her order of Sept. 2008 covered the materials not yet disclosed. She stated that she understood the context, but her role was not to comment on that, but simply to rule if her order covered the disputed material and/or whether that material was suitably "privileged" or otherwise protected.

At that point, the lunch break was called for, just as Joseph Doyle, for the Defence, was to open another window on questions about what kinds of privilege are being claimed and what further disclosure is required. There is more to be said between now and February 16 about all the matters concerned... and that will, doubtless, follow.



Graham Whitmarsh - 'no chops for Finance'

Noted in passing ... interesting information about the person chosen by Mr Real Estate to replace Chris Trumpy as BC's Deputy Minister of Finance. No need to emphasize that Finance is an especially significant Ministry in these troubled times. So why did Campbell choose Graham Whitmarsh for the onerous job as the new Deputy Minister of Finance?

A commenter, writing in The Tyee on 27 January 2009, tackles the subject:

" ... that whole thing about Campbell being 'green'--- where did that come from anyway?

Maybe some have forgotten that the guy leading Green GORDO's charge was Graham Whitmarsh ...

About which Sean Holman [Public Eye Online] said the following:

"This should be a simple yes or no question"
The provincial government still isn't saying whether its new top climate action bureaucrat has any environmental credentials. Earlier this month, Public Eye exclusively told you the Western Canada Wilderness Committee sent a letter to Campbell administration asking for "biographical information…relating to Mr. (Graham) Whitmarsh's demonstrated policy understanding of key climate change issues and his track record on managing key cross-government projects." But, in his response to that letter, public service agency deputy minister James Gorman doesn't include any such information.
Instead, he simply says Mr. Whitmarsh, prior to becoming the head of the government's climate action secretariat, demonstrated "a notable capacity for developing relationships across the ministries and a capacity to learn and understand the many complex and diverse issues pertaining to climate action." This, during his two-month stint as the premier's chief carbon trading advisor.
Nevertheless, despite Mr. Whitmarsh's apparent lack of environmental qualifications, Mr. Gorman remains confident the former aerospace and airline information technology executive has the leadership skills "the Secretariat needs to be successful, and I have no doubt that both the Secretariat and the BC Public Service will be well-served by this appointment." So at least Mr. Whitmarsh has that going for him.

source: Public Eye Online July 26, 2007:

We now have the somewhat disconcerting result that a man with few credentials for the environmental file is now equally 'qualified' to be DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE.

Amazing what a few years in the Royal Navy can prepare you for!

In fact, not only was he unqualified and inexperienced as an environmental guru, the stillborn failure of the Campbell tax to actually address the environment in a positive way could have been surmised by anyone who did a little more digging into Mr Whitmarsh's CV.

Had one done so, one would have realized that Mr Whitmarsh's background is PR and sales and (although his Navy background was submarines) airplanes:

... after university Whitmarsh pursued a career in the Royal Navy as a warfare Officer in Nuclear Submarines.

...His 17 year 'international business career' included senior executive positions at Harmony Airways, Sabre Airline Solutions nota bene- Market, Sell, Serve and Operate...(at), Mercury Scheduling Systems
Sales and Marketing
and British Aerospace Inc.

More from Sean Holman here:

Hard not to think that Mr Whitmarsh's 'in' with the Premier's Office has something in common with a certain former 'MINISTER OF FINANCE' who played an important role in the Basi Virk case and the Legislature Raids....funny how all the people Gordo promotes are friends or friends of friends.

As to his abilities to handle a technical job in the Finance Ministry...don't kid yourself, Vaughn Palmer has actually covered that one quite well:

Whitmarsh clearly has no chops for finance - he's been brought in to handle the Campbell version of the Bill BENNETT 'Massacree' which will begin the day after May 12 if the people of BC are so foolish as to re-elect the current Premier....

For anyone still wanting to get a clearer picture of the man the Premier thinks so highly of, here’s a bit of ‘stuff’ from the man himself – a little bit of fluff he prepared for Document Boss that talks about ‘teams and ‘team leaders’:


Tyee link:


Monday, January 26, 2009


Basi-Virk - RCMP "cloaking duplicity"


BASI-VIRK - RCMP "cloaking duplicity" in efforts to deny disclosure of legal memo to accused - defence allegation

Defence charges that RCMP “cloaking duplicity” by denying evidence disclosure in BC Legislature Raid case

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours newspaper

A defence lawyer in the B.C. Legislature raid case Monday accused the RCMP of “cloaking duplicity” in not disclosing evidence to the accused, drawing strong objections from the Special Prosecutor.

Kevin McCullough, representing Bob Virk, one of three former B.C. government aides facing corruption charges connected to the $1 billion B.C. Rail sale, alleged that the RCMP failed to fully disclose a key memorandum from their lawyers regarding wiretap applications at the Legislature.

“The RCMP are cloaking duplicity,” McCullough said, prompting an angry Special Prosecutor Janet Winteringham to leap to her feet in B.C. Supreme Court during a pre-trial hearing.

“Objection! This submission is premature and the issue goes to innocence at stake,” Winteringham told Justice Elizabeth Bennett. “Maybe down the road but not today ...”


"They changed tactics and instead of getting another wiretap, they raided the Legislature," McCullough replied, suggesting for the first time in court that the RCMP raid ... may have been borne out of frustration with failed wiretap applications ..."

Read the full story here.




By Bill Tieleman
24 HOURS - January 26, 2009



Bouck's Law Blog

Criminal Law - Disclosure - R. v. Basi-Virk.



Problems with Supreme Court listings today

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Media in terrible trouble ... bad as they are, what will we do without them?

Could CanWest go bankrupt?
By Duncan Hood
Maclean's Magazine - December 22, 2008


[Canwest] was once arguably Canada's leading media company, was kicked off the country's main market index in September [2008] and is now a struggling penny stock.

They "own" ... Vancouver Sun, The Province, Victoria Times Colonist ... Canwest is Canada’s largest publisher of paid English language daily newspapers and owns, operates and/or holds substantial interests in conventional television, out-of-home advertising, specialty cable channels, web sites and radio stations and networks in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Maclean's Magazine: The Destruction of a Canadian Institution
By Robin Mathews
Vive le Canada - January 25, 2009


Maclean’s Magazine, except as an empty, posturing parody of its former self, is finished. Many of us grew up with it and subscribed for decades because – though open to criticism, of course – it managed to capture Canada and report on its condition in a way that was, overall, fair ...


Granted that the Canadian media has become weak, biased, disloyal and faulty. But can the nation survive without any media whatever?

I think not.
I am sure we can't sustain a free, democratic society without a healthy free press. What to do?

- BC Mary.


Thursday, January 22, 2009


Sun River Estates Ltd v. Capital Regional District were in BC Supreme Court, Victoria, from April 21 to 25 and on July 31, 2008

While stumbling through the court listings this evening, I was surprised to see the name of Sun River Estates ltd., which is the real estate development at Sooke BC mentioned in the charges against Dave Basi as well as the developers Duncan and Young.

Did you read about it in your local newspaper? Nope, me either. Not a syllable.

The Honourable Mr Justice Masuhara heard the trial in BC Supreme Court, Victoria, between April 21 - 25 and on July 31, 2008. It concerned misunderstandings about who should be responsible for the cost of supplying water to the 750-home development.

In the Reasons for Judgment, under FACTS AND CHRONOLOGY, there is an interesting series of dates for the Sun River Estates development beginning in August of 2000, and ending 123 entries later, circa December 2005, when Sun River's case was dismissed. - BC Mary.



Our first Legislature Raids poll

What's your feeling about this situation? Is the BCRail Trial proceeding in a good way? Or is there room for improvement? Here's the first Legislature Raids poll. To participate, please read the passionate letter to the Vancouver Sun editor (below) ... then say if you agree, disagree, or DNDC (Don't know, don't care) ...


Letters to the Editor - November 29, 2008
From Dave Doman

Re: Dispute over informant goes to top-court appeal, Nov. 28

I am furious about the five-year legal stonewalling in the BC Rail-Basi-Virk case. The truth is being hidden behind a mountain of legal procedures.

This is a classic case of using the legal system to disguise the smell of corruption.

I wonder whether taxpayers are bearing any of the legal expenses for Bob Virk, Dave Basi and Aneal Basi. We are, of course, paying for the prosecution side of this charade.

Now the Supreme Court has become involved -- guess who pays the salaries there? I am certain that the bill for this whole exercise runs into many millions of dollars and the lawyers who are reaping this bonanza have absolutely no incentive to bring it to a close. What a ripoff.

Dave Doman


Do you Agree? Disagree? DNDC (Don't know, Don't care)? Just click on "comments" below, and leave your answer. And anything else you'd like to say about this matter. - BC Mary.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Basi Virk in Vancouver Court today

Confirmed: Case #23299 for Basi, Virk, Basi is back in BC Supreme Court today at 10:00 AM.
The Law Courts are at 800 Smythe Street, Vancouver and are open to the public.

Click on "Van Court Direct" in left margin to see the 1-1/2 pages of detail including:

* accepting bribes
* fraud over $5,000
* disclosure, disclosure, disclosure
* application to vary the order of 17th December 2007 to allow defence counsel to photocopy transcripts for the Supreme Court of Canada


Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Letter to a friend ...


I was thinking of you last week … a challenging week for me, torn as I was between trying to pry out some information — and beseeching the newsrooms and journalists to write the story about what went on in the Victoria Court House.

Just imagine: The Vancouver Supreme Court judge on the BCRail Case showed up unannounced, held a surprise session in Victoria Court House — quite apart from the A.L.R. trial of Dave Basi. It was at this point that BC Mary had to learn what “Inherent Jurisdiction” meant. Very interesting.

And certain censored informants tell me that tension in that courtroom between Erik Bornmann (for the Crown) and Dave Basi was extreme … and NOT A SYLLABLE appeared all week in Times Colonist. Have you ever heard of a guy accused of serious government issues having to contend with two separate trials at once?

Because, you see, somewhere along the way — shrouded in fog — the whole caper about the A.L.R. charges against Dave Basi … are you ready for this?? … morphed into a full-blown trial …!! With the BC Rail Trial running as a sidebar, apparently. I mean who knows?? It could even have been the other way around, with BC Rail becoming a full-blown trial and the A.L.R. charges a side issue. Who knows what the heck is going on?

Anyway, that’s where the extreme tensions were in evidence between the Crown’s chief witness (in the BC Rail Case) and the Accused (in both the A.L.R. case and the BC Rail Case).

I mean, Laila, there are stories within stories here, news flashes within riddles within enigmas within conundrums. Can you even imagine why a NEWSpaper wouldn’t be right there, all bright-eyed and eager to take notes?

They say that Dave Basi was very much in charge last Wed. and Thurs., too, speaking to the press, behaving like a winner in that Victoria Court House. Figure that, eh? Meanwhile the Crown witness (Erik Bornmann) was shrinking fast. Figure that too.

Basi, Virk, and Bornmann were even photographed (separately, of course) on the sidewalk in front of the Court House. Didja see that in your local newspaper??? Nope, I didn’t think so. I hear their intriguing images were shown briefly on “A” Channel News and Global one evening, then gone. No depth, no public understanding. It’s as if the public interest didn’t exist. But it does prove that the media was fully aware of the issues in court. And no, if there was actually a publication ban (there's some confusion about that, too) it doesn't mean that NOTHING can be mentioned, or that NOTHING can be photographed for publication. Only that certain information can't be distributed.

My censored informants from inside TC tell me that TC actually had a journalist there in Victoria Court House but STILL DIDN’T THINK IT WAS NEWS. When it becomes “NEWS” … ha ha ha ha … they say they plan to publish it. Oh good. I’d hate for them to miss it.

Commentors to my blog (The Legislature Raids) have come across with wonderful bits of research, which help to keep my spirits up.

Do you know anything much about Josiah Wood? He came up for discussion when Justice Bennett held court in Victoria. He’s a very surprising google, apparently a favourite of Ujj Dosanjh when Ujj was AG … briefly appointed Spec Prosecutor on Basi Virk … then zapped. One of the documents the government is trying to keep secret, is said to be about Josiah Wood.

Googling him gave me my first glimpse of an interesting term: “Legalized obstruction” which, I swear, describes what’s going on with the Basi Virk fiasco.

And this is NEWZ, for gosh sakes, because, if not checked, this entire Basi Virk Caper will bankrupt the province with the default legal fees which are piling up. And we’re still not finding out why BC Rail slipped from public ownership into private pockets.

To continue BC Mary’s Week From Media Hell: A “legislative bureau chief” was in Victoria but didn’t know the hearings (one of which morphed into a full-blown trial) were in progress (see what I mean??), so I was trying to keep him informed … until finally I had to break down and suggest that he check in on my blog. Like, y’know, The Legislature Raids … ?

A dear friend who lives in Victoria but couldn’t attend those courtroom sessions either — started laughing about this situation, saying it sounded like a Monty Python show.

Well, yeah, it does sound like a Monty Python Show. Only it ain’t funny. I think BC has turned into a banana republic without the bananas.

Best wishes, Laila. Keep up the good fight. - Mary.


Monday, January 19, 2009


If you fell asleep 3 years ago and didn't wake up until today, you might think you hadn't missed anything when you see today's Basi-Virk news headline


By Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - January 19, 2009

"Thousands more documents" are being sought.

Back in court (Vancouver) Wednesday.

More legal arguments on February 17. And/or Feb. 16. (See also: Tieleman blog)

Read the full story, including what Justice Bennett was doing in Victoria last week. - BC Mary.



Basi, Virk, Basi in VANCOUVER Supreme Court for Mon. Jan. 19, 2009 at 10:00 AM

See the comment below for an indication of the discussion topics for this week's hearings.

The court listings confirm, in 1-1/2 pages, that the topic is mostly disclosure, disclosure, disclosure. - BC Mary.


Sunday, January 18, 2009


Basi-Virk Trial: A Citizen Journalist reports on what the media isn't telling us ...

A comment left at Bill Tieleman's blog today:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Wednesday January 14th, Justice Bennett appeared in Victoria
to issue her oral ruling on the issue of litigation privilege being
claimed by the RCMP.

In her lengthy decision, she did not support the RCMP claims of
litigation privilege. Rather, she determined that the litigation
privilege claim is limited and she decided on a case by case basis
what documents should be disclosed immediately to the defence.

Some documents were "highly relevant" or that some documents were
not relevant. A number of documents where Justice Bennett determined
that litigation privilege still may be applicable will be the subject
of next week's hearing in Vancouver. Those documents contain
information that the defence feels are important to highlight the
conduct of the RCMP.

Of the 300 or so documents that Justice Bennett reviewed, the
documents that she determined were highly relevant are documents that
caused a stir in the Victoria courtroom.

For example, Document #727 is an email chain that involves
Superintendent Dick Bent, Sgt. Gately and Cpl. Robinson. It was sent
to Martha Devlin (DOJ Prosecutor) and the judge stated that it
invovles RCMP misconduct.

As I sat in the rear of the courtroom, a number of people
attended. Both Basi, and Virk were there along with a group of
students in the gallery, and about 8 people in attendence.

This was another judgement that went against the Special

After the decision, Janet Winteringham and her junior, rushed off
without answering questions. The defence lawyers stated that the
decision spoke for itself.

Both Basi and Virk did not speak with me. Although they were
speaking with a number of people in the gallery.

After refusing to disclose documents that Justice Bennett
determined are relevant, why do the Special Prosecutor and the RCMP
continue to delay this case?

I urge you to read the Judges rulings in this case. Despite the
ever increasing number of legal privileges that are being raised in
this case to block basic disclosure, the defence continues to overcome
those legal hurdles.

It is clearly time for Bill Berardino's legal team and from the
RCMP to raise the anchor that is weighing this case down.

If the RCMP and Special Prosecutor do not change direction, this
case will collapse under its own weight.

JANUARY 12, 2009 9:00AM - 10:45AM.


Special thanks to an excellent Citizen Journalist for this steady eye-witness report, and to Bill Tieleman for generous permission to reprint this comment from his blog. I'm baffled as to what Judge Bennett was doing in Victoria, but am grateful for the solid information we did receive. Our paid, privileged, perverse media has come off looking shabby this past week in Victoria, and that should worry us all. This Legislature-raid case is taking far too long. - BC Mary



Two historic performances Mon. Jan. 19. Attend. Learn more. Learn about "Inherent Jurisdiction". Be amazed!

On Monday morning, January 19, Victoria, British Columbia is the place to be. Two of the greatest political performances on earth will be onstage. The B.C. Legislature and the nearby Victoria Court House provide good seats for the public. All we have to do is walk in, sit down, watch, listen.

And the shows ... !!

Did you know that Dave Basi's A.L.R. pre-trial hearings apparently morphed into a full-blown trial last week? Odds are, you didn't know that.

Attend. Learn more. Learn about "Inherent Jurisdiction"!! Be amazed!

The people you think are required to show up in Vancouver Law Courts on 19th January may -- instead -- be in Victoria. Dave Basi, Aneal Basi, and Bob Virk appear to be confirmed for Victoria. Maybe this includes Bill Berardino! Maybe even the judge! All secret, of course.

All the more interesting because any Citizen who gets his/her self to Room 401, Victoria Court House, will see historic, once-in-a-lifetime unbelievably astonishing shows performed (I am reliably informed) with passion! And besides, it's probably the only way you'll get to know what happens on Jan. 19, 2009.

News media are scared to mention the Court House activity. Nobody's quite sure what the publication ban means. But everybody sure that the public can walk in, observe, and listen. That's nice, because everybody also certain that we'll be doomed to eternity if we even crack a joke about it.

No problem there: what's funny about losing a railway? What's comical about citizens expected to look away, to forget, to say "OK Boss" at every turn and to keep paying the bills?

The Legislature Show, on the other hand, is behaving like the BC Liberals Recovery Room, where issues beloved of Mr Real Estate come to be (ahem) revitalized. Proving that it doesn't need to take 5 years, either. Attend. Learn more. See how we could speed up the BC Rail trial this way, too.

At issue: do the Members of the Legislative Assembly agree to sign a blank cheque to cover Vancouver's reckless management? ... or ... do they agree to sign a blank cheque so as not to disappoint The World?

Watch and wonder as you hear how Legislative sittings to achieve this freedom were held on Saturday possibly because (stop laughing!!) it's against BC law to allow a Question Period on a weekend sitting.

Attend. Learn more. And consider that other $1Billion ... which the province was supposed to receive for BC Rail. I mean, did BC receive it? And if so, isn't that $1Billion canceled out by this fancy $1Billion real estate debt in Vancouver?

Footnote as Fair Warning: nobody knows for sure whether the old Case #23299 gang will be on stage in Vancouver Law Courts or in Victoria Law Courts or both ... on Monday January 19, 2009. The usually-reliable court listings are not published until 6:30 AM on the day in question. Click on BC Criminal Courts or Van Courts Direct in the left column of this page, to follow the programme. - BC Mary.

Oh, clever Mr Real Estate! The lights are off again and the doors are closed again in the B.C. Legislature. The emergency is over. Mr Real Estate has thoughtfully set aside a few other days for the legislators. that is: Feb. 10 - 26, to be exact. Sorry to have been so ... 'ow you say in h'english ... stoopide??

But there's still The Victoria Court House, where even on the sidewalk famous persons may be glimpsed, I am told. Already observed: Erik Bornmann, main witness for the Crown in HMTQ v. Basi, Virk, Basi. Also noticed: Dave Basi and his brother-in-law Bobby Virk. - BC Mary.


Friday, January 16, 2009


Dave Basi ... next appearance: blank

There is no listing for Udhe S. (Dave) Basi in today's schedule of hearings in Victoria Court House. What could this mean? It could mean that the hearings are finished. If so, we can try to search that.

To follow this search procedure, click on "BC Criminal Courts" in left column of this page. Then chose Victoria Law Courts
Public Access Completed Provincial Court List (Adult)
For files appearing on 15 January 2009

There are 141 pages of listings for the week. I went through all of them. The name of Udhe S. (Dave) Basi appears Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday: January 12 - 15, 2009. The following notes appear for BASI on page 140 of the 141 pages of listings.

The room number "JCM" - not the usual "Room 102"
File #134750-1-D , Agency file 40 03-1072
Next appearance ... blank.
Results: "No results entered"

A reliable source has informed BC Mary that when the Thursday hearing was wrapping up, he asked the Court Clerk about future hearings and was told that the clerk "didn't know".

Call me old-fashioned for thinking the B.C. public is badly served if we cannot be told that,

* this week, there were/are preliminary hearings in court for a former government employee,
* the hearings arise from information found during the raids on the BC Legislature,
* hearings are open to the public in Room 102, Victoria Court House,
* the charges are 1, 2, 3, 4 against the former government employee, Dave Basi,
* we can't publish the evidence yet, because there's a publication ban
* but the public can attend, observe, listen to the evidence for themselves.

The issue in court is about protected Agricultural Lands at Sooke BC. That's Sooke -- it rhymes with "fluke" -- and Sooke not so very far from the Victoria Court House. Or the BC Legislature. The protected Sooke lands are now deep-sixed under a housing development. Is it unreasonable for citizens to wonder if this A.L.R. case could tell us whether the process was similar to the one used for sliding BC Rail into private pockets?

But for today, Friday January 16, 2009, the public seems to be out of luck trying to find out whether the courts are taking care of the people's business in British Columbia. - BC Mary.

Meantime, searching this blog is easy. Just type the topic into the SEARCH box, top of this page. I just typed "Dave Basi + A.L.R." and -- among other things - found information on something Bill Tieleman wrote for The Tyee on April 4, 2006, titled Leg Raid Case: New Charges, New Questions ...

Sooke land deal

The new charges that were laid Monday against Basi, James Seymour Duncan and Anthony Ralph Young allege that Basi accepted $50,000 for his assistance in excluding property from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

That property formed the giant Sunriver Estates, a project of 650 residential units on 382 acres being built in five phases through 2007. It is owned by Shambrook Hills Development Corp.

In an interview Monday, former Sooke councilor Tom Marino said the project was removed from the ALR before he became a council member, but that both Duncan and Young had subsequently appeared there occasionally with requests related to the development. Marino, former leader of the Democratic Reform Party of B.C., said he did not know either man personally.

The Sunriver Estates development was highly controversial in 2001-2002 when it was proposed and a local Sooke community group, WRATH - Worried Residents Against Tax Hikes in Sooke campaigned against the ALR exclusion.

The Sooke News Mirror strongly criticized the town council in a May 30, 2001 editorial for reversing Sooke policy in order to consider supporting the exclusion.

"This week, our municipal government decided to renege on a freshly-minted policy which stated that it would only consider Agriculture Land Reserve exclusions on property within the core area until the Official Community Plan review process is completed," the News Mirror wrote.

"Despite this policy, council has decided to allow Shambrook Hills Development Corp. - which has its sights set on converting the 386-acre Phillips farm property into a residential development - plead its case for ALR exclusion," the paper concluded.

The Agricultural Land Commission itself has been the subject of considerable controversy during the B.C. Liberal government's term of office, with claims of political interference dogging its decisions.


It's just bloody amazing that news media of today aren't willing to even mention the name of this case or these hearings or this trial (if the hearings have actually morphed into a full-blown trial right under our noses) ... on the assumption, I suppose, that it isn't "news" ... or isn't as interesting to the public as a rape or murder or robbery or doggy blues in Hollywood. Weird stuff is all so normal.

Former BC solicitor-general John Les is back in the news today. Remember Les? He's still M.L.A. for that Chilliwack riding which is also under investigation with regard to A.L.R. matters. He resigned as s-g because of that, but he stayed on in the mostly-absent-Legislature as a back bencher. I mean, who would notice? But the news today is: John Les will be a BC Liberal candidate again in the May 12, 2009 provincial election. He'll bounce back to his back bench, if he's re-elected. That's news, apparently: A prominent BC Liberal keeps on doing what he's doing. It's all so ... hmm ... qu'est ce que c'est? ... normal ... yes, that's it: normal, now. - BC Mary.


Thursday, January 15, 2009


January 15, 2009 - Dave Basi's case continues in Victoria Provincial Court

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Facts are revealed in the Archives ...

Beginning on January 12, 2009 in Victoria Provincial Court, Dave Basi has been listed as the star of an unexplained show that goes on ... and on ... under a publication ban. What does this mean? We can't seem to find out much. Is it explained simply in terms of CanWest shares dropping 35% to an unholy low
of 52 Canadian cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange (i.e., a drop of about 90 percent of its value in the last 12 months)? Does it mean that there are no reporters left standing?? Never mind ... here's what CanWest reporters did tell us almost 3 years ago ...

Bribe alleged in Sooke housing project
Allegations latest to arise from police raid on legislature

Lindsay Kines and Jeff Rud
Times Colonist - April 04, 2006

The police raid of the B.C. legislature two years ago has led to new allegations that a former government aide took $50,000 to help grease the wheels of a massive housing development in Sooke.

David Basi, former assistant to then-finance minister Gary Collins, faces three counts of defrauding government and one of breach of trust. Two local developers linked to the 700-home Sunriver Estates project face the same four charges.

Basi allegedly took the money between Jan. 1, 2002, and Sept. 1, 2003, in connection with an application by Shambrook Hills Development Corp., also known as Sunriver Estates Ltd., to remove farmland from the agricultural land reserve.

Anthony Ralph (Tony) Young and James Seymour (Jim) Duncan are accused of paying the $50,000 to Basi. Duncan is listed in company records as one of the directors of Sunriver Estates, and Tony Young is listed on Sunriver's voice-mail directory at its Victoria office.

RCMP spokesman Staff Sgt. John Ward said the Sunriver charges stem from the Dec. 28, 2003, raid on the legislature. "This information came to light as a result of that investigation," he said.

Basi already faces other corruption charges linked to the raid. Search warrant documents released Monday allege he was paid about $24,000 by a lobbyist in exchange for government information and documents.

Basi, 39, appeared briefly in Victoria provincial court Monday on the new charges and was remanded to April 27 [2006], his lawyer Michael Bolton said.

"I can't say too much because I don't have any disclosure with regard to ...

Read the full story here.



Confirmed: Dave Basi A.L.R. case in Victoria Provincial Court again today at 9:30 AM

Room 102 in Victoria Court House at 9:30 AM, the pre-trial hearings continue today (under a publication ban) for the Agricultural Land Reserve charges against Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi.

The hearings are open to the public.

The hearings are open to the media.

But because there are two other men (developers Duncan and Young) charged, the integrity of their trial is being protected by this publications ban. At least, that is our best guess ... and without an active media, the public is certainly left guessing.

The important thing to note is: the public can walk into Victoria Court House, into Room 102, take seats, and observe the hearings. So Citizen Journalists can (I believe) tell us quite a bit about this experience. But what they cannot and must not do is publish information identifying witnesses or repeating evidence ... not until the two other Accused have had their fair trial.

To date, only the daily Court Listings provides us with any official source of information. So as they say on TV, Viewers discretion is advised. To check for yourselves, click on BC Criminal Courts, in left column of this page, then click on Victoria Provincial Court.

A Citizen Journalist advises that Keith Baldrey made mention of this case last evening, with an explanation of its connection to the neverending hearings in the big BC Rail trial in Vancouver. (Which, by the way, gets rolling again on Monday morning, January 19, 2009.)

- BC Mary.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Your help is needed ... Dave Basi is back in Victoria Court House today and we do not know why!


Are you by any chance, able to attend the courtroom session today for Dave Basi in Victoria ... it seems as if a personal appearance + a personal publishing = the only way of letting the public know what is happening.

Despite the Court listing yesterday on these four A.L.R. charges, there is nothing in the news about it. (I will report back, if I find anything.)

But this morning, Victoria Court House is again listing:

File #134750-1-D, BASI, Udhe S. in Victoria Court House, Room 102 at 9:30 AM, for Tuesday January 13, 2009.

So the thing is: something is happening. But what ... that is the question.

I figured Dave Basi would appear in Victoria court to be officially charged with the 4 counts in the Sooke A.L.R. affair, as shown on the January 12, 2009 Court Listings yesterday, and then the whole thing would be postponed because of the outstanding Vancouver Court issues. I did not see how the Dave Basi lawyer could be expected to appear in two different cities at the same time.

But the Basi A.L.R. Case is back in Victoria Court House again today, the same 4 charges are listed, with Bolton there as his lawyer. So something has happened. Something is developing.

I am letting anyone in Victoria or anyone who can be in Victoria know ... we need Citizen Journalists who can just walk in, listen a while, and pass the word along so that the public can keep informed. No pressure ... just looking for a Citizen Journalist who can go where no Big Media dares to go.

BC Mary
The Legislature Raids

Bits and pieces of new information, unconfirmed, from Citizen Journalists:

* Dave Basi A.L.R. trial is scheduled to take all this week in Victoria Provincial Court

* It is in the Preliminary Hearing stage.

* Preliminary Hearing is another term for Pre-Trial Hearing and we know all about that, eh.

* There is a publication ban in place (this is confirmed) on this hearing. But as a general rule, there is no publication ban on pre-trial hearings.

* In this case #134750-1-D (Udhe (Dave) Basi), the publication ban ensures that none of the witness names or the evidence can be revealed, to avoid affecting another trial arising from the same set of charges against the developers, Duncan and Young.

* the public, also journalists, may attend Court, but they cannot publish any of the evidence etc

* Times Colonist (despite the personal promise Lucinda Chodan gave to us that when there is news, TC plans to report it), the TC's so short of reporters, the city editor apparently doesn't think reporting on SuperDave Basi is worth the bother.

* May we suggest, at this point, that the Dave Basi story is just a wee bit more important -- well, OK, as important -- as unauthorized camping in parks.

* Some others Citizen Journalists will, I hope, report in later.

* One keen observer says he does not expect to see any published news of Dave Basi or the other guys until after the May 2009 provincial election.

* As for that provincial election: remember the guy who really deserves to represent Vancouver in 2010: Mr Real Estate himself! He deserves to stand in the midst of the chaos to greet the world coming to see his version of The Best Place on Earth. The picture should be just about perfect by 2010 and he surely deserves to stand up and take all the credit for that ... and not be able in any way to lay the blame on the New Democrats.


Monday, January 12, 2009


Confirmed: Case #134750-1-D, Room 102 in Victoria Court House on Monday Jan. 12, 2009, 9:30 AM, Udhe Singh BASI (Dave)


* Breach of trust by a public officer,
* Accepting a bribe as a government official,
* Accepting a bribe from a person dealing with government,
* Offering to influence government official.


Sunday, January 11, 2009


Mon., Jan. 12, Victoria Court House: Hearing for Udhe (Dave) Basi

From Bill Tieleman's blog, May 15, 2008:

Erik Bornmann spotted at Victoria Court House where A.L.R. Corruption charges preliminary hearing held ...

... Basi's charges have been severed from those of Young and Duncan, apparently due to the lengthy delays in the BC Legislature raid case ...

The allegations against Basi, Young and Duncan arose in April 2006, when Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino filed three counts of fraud and one of breach of trust against the men for offences that allegedly occurred between Jan. 1, 2002, and Sept. 1, 2003.

The Crown alleges in an indictment that Basi received $50,000 in connection to an application to remove property owned by Shambrook Hills Development Corp., a company also known as Sun River Estates Ltd., from the Agricultural Land Reserve.


Messing with the A.L.R., beyond Sooke

Reprinted from Aug 31, 2006, The Legislature Raids.

The Agricultural Land Reserve was created in the mid-1970s to stop the spread of towns and cities onto rare farmland. The Agricultural Land Commission was created to administer it.

In 2004, a group of agrologists, planners, nutritionists and others interested in protecting B.C. farmland formed a group called the Agricultural Land Reserve Protection and Enhancement Committee to battle what it contended was a dangerous attack on the ALR. They invited the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Clinic to report on their findings. Their report says that the Agricultural Land Commission is failing to protect farmland from development. It is calling on the B.C. premier to launch a full-scale public enquiry.

The current system is operating under 3-person regional panels which tend to accept what a developer says rather than pay attention to what the public service advises.

In an August 29 Times Colonist article Report: Farmland Vanishing, Jeff Rud lists the evident flaws in the current system, where some of these 3-person regional panels have approved removal of ALR land without testing key evidence; approved tourism buildings on reserve land on the assumption that the land could later be reclaimed for agricultural use; and failed to consult the local farming community.

"We looked at just 4 cases and turned up these anomalies and problems," said the Environmental Law Clinic's legal director." It makes a pretty compelling case for government to establish a public inquiry to see if this is a commonplace problem, because hundreds of decisions have been made." They highlighted those 4 cases, which affected Courtenay, Windermere Lake in the East Kootenays, Abbotsford, and Sechelt. [Unfortunately, it does not mention Sooke.]

B.C.'s population is expected to grow by at least 1.3 million people over the next 25 years. In order to produce what it does now -- roughly 50% of the food consumed by British Columbians -- the province will need 1 million additional hectares of farmland, producing at the same rate as farms now in operation, said Dave Sands, recently retired as regional director for the South Coast including Vancouver Island.

If you're like me, you probably read the brief reports of Basi, Duncan, and Young being charged with allegedly offering and/or accepting a $50,000. bribe for the purpose of allegedly removing land from the Sooke A.L.R. which did subsequently become a real estate development. I thought it was a one-off, didn't you?

But if corruption is proven to have entered into the system protecting our future food production, that's a whole new erosion of public assets.

- BC Mary.


Thursday, January 08, 2009


Diversion. Distraction. Delay. The Bedrooms of Bountiful.

When I heard yesterday that the Honourable Attorney General for B.C. had decided to lay (sorry) charges against the two Big Hamsters at Bountiful B.C., I thought "Aha, right on cue, the perfect distraction just as the Basi-Virk trial is beginning to heat up." Even so, I could hardly believe it when I opened the morning's Globe and Mail and found the front page covered in a huge colour photo of Winston Blackmore and about 2% of his family.
With a story + 79 comments. And it was still early morning.

As well as an editorial with an additional 24 comments.

And a Photo Gallery.
Plus an August 2, 2007 item explaining that no charges of sexual assault will be laid

Plus the names of the 3 Special Prosecutors who have been appointed so far ... the first two having been booted because Stonewally didn't agree with their assessment of the case (!!!!) ... and the 3rd (Terrance Robertson) who Stonewally approves of ... which sure as God made little green apples, is an infringement of the Spec Pros' vaunted independence, isn't it?
Plus -- no, we're not finished with The Globe and Mail yet -- a side-bar describing how Texas had handled their half of this same religious sect. Yeah, Texas. Yeah, Same-Sect Marriages.

As one of the commentors to The Legislature Raids said, "Isn't Oppal the guy who can't mention anything about a case which is before the courts?" Yep, that's the guy. But today, our Stonewally is rattling on about The Bountiful Bust. He talks and talks (see Globe story below). The story's got everything. Not only SEX and human rights, politics, religion, and did I mention SEX, but also our B.C. specialty: Diversion. Distraction. Delay. Non-Disclosure.

So if allowed to, this Polygamy issue will grip people's minds the way Capital Punishment once did, the way Abortion Rights and Same Sex Marriage do ... as another debate without end.
Diversion. Distraction. Delay. Deceit. Another political football. But it's a sure crowd-control tool without having to use tear gas.

2 leaders charged with polygamy

Winston Blackmore and James Oler released on four bail conditions


B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal and RCMP Sgt. Tim Shields talk to the media in Vancouver after two members of a Canadian polygamist group were arrested yesterday. Winston Blackmore and James Oler, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, were arrested without incident.

The two warring male leaders of the splintered polygamous community of Bountiful have been charged under the criminal code with the practice of polygamy.

Winston Blackmore, 52, the self-styled "bishop of Bountiful," and his bitter rival, James Oler, 44, were each charged with one count that they "practised a form of polygamy . . . or conjugal union." RCMP Sgt. Tim Shields and Attorney-General Wally Oppal teamed up to announce in Vancouver that the two avowed polygamists were arrested "without incident" yesterday at the commune near Creston, handcuffed and taken to the RCMP lockup in Cranbrook.

Both were released late yesterday on four bail conditions, including that they stay in B.C., surrender their passports, report to police regularly and not practise "celestial marriage" or polygamy.

Oppal believes the polygamy charges are the first of their kind to be laid in Canada.

"This issue has been with us for many, many years and it has been a very complex issue," said Oppal.

Oppal noted that the defence of "freedom of religion" has always been raised as a reason for not launching a prosecution against polygamy, but added: "I've always disagreed with that.

"Section 293 of the criminal code of Canada, which prohibits the practise of polygamy, is there to prevent the exploitation of women. As far as we're concerned, that is valid law." Oppal said he believes the polygamy charges will withstand any Charter of Rights challenge, but added: "My view is that if that section is invalid due to a freedom of religion argument we should let a court decide." RCMP officers entered the Bountiful commune in unmarked cars, in what Shields said was a deliberately "sensitive" approach.

No Bountiful children were apprehended, said Shields, unlike the aggressive seizures last April -- and subsequent return -- of some of the 439 children taken by U.S. police from the polygamous Yearning for Zion community in Texas.

Shields said the B.C. Child and Family Development Ministry has focused on "building bridges" with Bountiful.

Oler and Blackmore are slated to appear in court on Jan. 21.

Bountiful, with about 1,200 people, has been the focus of police and child welfare probes for decades, with allegations of rampant child sexual abuse, incest, fraud and trafficking of teenage brides across the Canada-U.S. border.

The Bountiful community split bitterly in 2002 into followers of Blackmore, who claims about 700 adherents, and those of Oler, who has about 500 followers who also are loyal to jailed U.S. polygamist Warren Jeffs, convicted last year of sex-exploitation charges.

Jeffs, who made the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list while on the lam for two years, faces more charges of incest and sex with minors.

Blackmore was deposed by Jeffs supporter Oler as Canadian head of Bountiful, but has refused to step down.

The indictment against Blackmore names 20 women, although he is believed to have had at least 26 wives and about 150 biological children. The indictment against Oler names only two women.

Oppal defended the decision to proceed with polygamy charges rather than address the sexual exploitation of women and children alleged by Bountiful critics.

"Historically, it's been extremely difficult to get witnesses to come forward and testify, particularly on sexual exploitation charges," said Oppal, although he praised the efforts of RCMP Sgt. Terry Jacklin in providing a full case on both polygamy and sexual exploitation charges.

Police recommended charges of sex exploitation and polygamy in September 2006, but no charges were laid.

The third special prosecutor appointed by Oppal, Terrence Robertson, got fresh evidence on Nov. 25, 2008, and decided on Dec. 9, 2008, to proceed with the polygamy charges against Oler and Blackmore, said Shields.


I think Stonewally has blundered by launching a raid on the Bountiful community this week, looking to arrest the two "spiritual leaders". People are way too smart for these tactics now. They're saying "Why now, after 20, 30, 40 years?" People are thinking something else is going on ... something iffy ... something Stonewally doesn't want us knowing too much about. People are thinking that maybe The Bountiful Bust is merely a distraction. If so, it's a good distraction. It's got everything.

There's the blatant naughtiness. One old fat guy (Blackmore, 52, not Oppal, 68) bedding very young girls, with a whole community applauding. The obedient media can be counted upon to create a bonanza of salacious glimpses into what polygamy means (Blackmore has 20 wives, the other guy has 2). Much talk about Religious Freedom, Human Rights, Religious Persecution. The furious debate will last only long enough to draw attention away from the trials and tribulations of Basi, Virk, and Basi ... and the people of BC who once owned a proud railway.

People will recognize Stonewally's raid on Bountiful as distraction ... knowing there's a head of steam building up at the Vancouver Law Courts these days. It's been over 5 years since the RCMP raided the BC Legislature and the Cone of Official Silence is becoming stressed, trying to delay that trial.

The Bedrooms of Bountiful might help shield the next BC Rail pre-trial hearings (Jan. 19) ... the launch of Dave Basi's ALR trial (Jan 12) ... and the special hearing in Supreme Court of Canada begging for more secrecy (Apr. 22). Tempers are heating up, patience is running out, and we may at long last begin to hear what caused BCRail to slide from public ownership into private pockets.

Only the bedrooms of Bountiful could prevent that ... for a few days. - BC Mary.

The Province. January 9, 2009. And there are TWENTY (20) related news stories listed alongside today's big story on the Big Hamster Himself, who smells a rat. Ugh.

The Province. Michael Smyth. Jan. 9/09. Polygamy charges may backfire on A-G Oppal

Smyth writes:
Somewhere, right now, Winston Blackmore is probably smiling {Snip} ... There's a reason nobody has been charged with polygamy in this country for more than a century. It's because the lawyers themselves know the charges won't stick. The experts in Oppal's own ministry have said for years the criminal code section outlawing polygamy is outdated and unenforceable.

{Snip} ... even if they buck the odds and the Crown can prove polygamy is still illegal in Canada, Blackmore would probably get a slap on the wrist. And the whole legal circus will cost taxpayers a fortune. So what's the point here? ... Oppal is proceeding with the flimsiest case possible. And the ramifications of losing are serious ...

Michael Smyth sees Oppal's action as purely political, connected to the provincial election on May 12, 2009. Read Smyth's full column here. Special thanks to commentor secondlook who alerted us to this story. And to the book, Snakes in Suits. - BC Mary.