Thursday, March 26, 2009

 

Robin Mathews: morning, March 26, 2009 when Courtroom 67 exploded

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Morning in Courtroom 67
Robin Mathews - March 26, 2009


This morning exploded. Saying that some of the things referred to in his morning submission will be important later, Kevin MCCullough, for the Defence, launched into revelations of the tight connection between the legal and the political in the BC Rail Scandal as it relates to the accused in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case.

That is just the connection the Campbell forces have been attempting, many believe, to avoid at all costs. McCullough will continue with that theme this afternoon. This morning he pulled into the web of interaction people like Kevin Mahoney, VP of BC Rail, Chris Trumpy, member of the Evaluation Committee (and point man for the deal for the Gordon Campbell government), D. McLean, president of BCR, and (the now-famous) Patrick Kinsella - who, it appears, had surprising roles in the matter. (More below)

The matters McCullough laid before the court tangle the Gordon Campbell forces in an apparent web of manipulation and micromanagement both before and after the announcement of the sale of BC Rail.

The court was fuller than usual for the occasion, with ten counsel present and fifteen observers in the gallery.

McCullough divided the area of discussion into five categories. Roughly before the announcement of the sale and after it. After the date of the announcement of the winning bidder, November 25, 2003, there were problems with the transaction, and we now know, McCullough asserted, that in May, June, and July of 2004 the deal was going off the rails.

McCullough made clear that the position of Defence is that - in the whole playing out of the bidding, the allegation of a "consolation prize" for OmniTrax to stay in the bidding, and the alleged connection of that to Gary Collins, then Finance Minister - that the three accused were following the orders of their masters. Don't assume, McCullough said to the judge, that Bob Virk gave anybody anything. (Referring, I assume, to the charges against him.)

McCullough alleged that the micromanagement of the whole issue involved leaks, information given and then withdrawn - the process wholly controlled by a political agenda. The leaks, McCullough said, were not coming from Basi, Virk, and Basi, as alleged.

A "problem" with the deal arose. The sale was announced in late November 2003. And then on December 28 2003 the media was aware that the search warrant "raids" on legislature offices connected to BC Rail. In February of 2004, the RCMP conducted some interviews and in March the sale of Roberts Bank spurline was cancelled because the process had been contaminated.

How, McCullough asked, could the government continue with the sale? If one part of the sale was poisoned, he suggested, both parts had to be.

[On March 2, 2004, the BC Federation of Labour called for a halt to the sale. "Until the public is fully satisfied there were no criminal acrivities involving BC Rail, the sale of BC Rail must be stopped" the Federation demanded.]

What Defence didn't know in early days was that the "problem" arose. The deal, as McCullough put it, was "coming apart". In May of 2004, after the announcement, CN, said McCullough, "was walking". And so on May 19, 2004 Kevin Mahoney e-mailed Chris Trumpy to tell him that Patrick Kinsella had learned from the president of CN Rail that the deal was in jeopardy. He asked what "they" can do, and referred, McCullough said, to Martyn Brown, Gordon Campbell's chief of staff.

Here we have, said McCullough, the vice-president of BC Rail e-mailing Trumpy that Kinsella has received a call from the president of CN asking anything "they" can do, which is needed now. Kinsella apparently was going to speak to Martyn Brown.

How real is this? Trumpy asks in reply. I have it, Mahnoney says, directly from Kinsella.

That brought the Kinsella involvement into dizzying perspective.

The Discovery package of documents, McCullough said, from the Crown for 2003, apparently showed Kinsella identified as a political advisor to the CN. Between 2002 and 2005, however, we know he was employed by BC Rail.

The "problem" arose, apparently, because - without consulting CN - Gordon Campbell made a television appearance in which he attempted to placate the Northern B.C. population about the deal with CN. In the presentation, Campbell apparently stated that the rail track was not in the sale. CN was alarmed because they would lose money, tax advantages and rail scheduling opportunities if that were so. Kinsella, McCullough alleged, was at that time the point man for CN.

Then in 2004 the whole matter of Kinsella's payments from BC Rail came up in pre-auditing procedures, And there the revelations of the past two weeks about payments to both Progressive Holdings and the Progressive Group were revealed. Both names standing, apparently, for Patrick Kinsella - who it is alleged was retained as a lobbyist.

As Gary Mason put it in the Globe and Mail today (March 26 09 A8), "The New Democratic Party...will undoubtedly want to focus on the increasing appearance that Mr. Kinsella was helping CN Rail with its ultimately successful bid to buy BC Rail at the same time as he was working for the seller." That is especially true since McCullough reported that Kinsella, McLean, and others met in the Premier's office about such matters - drawing Gordon Campbell into direct relations with the sale. The tight connection between the legal and the political in the BC Rail Scandal may, in fact, prove to be tight enough to strangle Gordon Campbell in the coming weeks.


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[*The (related) ALR case in court today at 2:00 p.m. is, I am informed, to be put over for about two weeks in a brief meeting this afternoon. - RM.]

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Comments:
Again Robin, you do us proud.
 
Robin's quote:"The tight connection between the legal and the political in the BC Rail Scandal may, in fact, prove to be tight enough to strangle Gordon Campbell in the coming weeks"

It's always the exposure of facts of political, cozy, connections and abuse of process, apart from legal proceedings, with all its trap doors and catch 22s . . . that ultimately nails them in the end.

All the people need is the truth.

'Mighty Mathews', as usual, thank you for your delectable description of the political house of cards crumbling from rot at the top.
 
Robin,

Were there any specific details given regarding the court documents that led Mr. McCullough to allege that Mr. Kinsella was, "a political advisor to (the) CN" and "the point man for CN"?


Thanks.

RossK

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“The government is concerned that Collins and Reid could inadvertently expose cabinet confidences,” said an RCMP briefing note on the solicitor general's concerns, which Mr. Bolton read in court.

“The solicitor general intervened,” said Mr. Bolton. “The solicitor general has become very involved in the investigation . . . [He's] making investigative decisions such as when to interview Mr. Collins.”

Mr. Bolton said police didn't take a statement from Mr. Collins until some two months later.

Mr. Coleman, who is now Forests Minister, rejected the allegation. {Snip}

But in court, Mr. Bolton read parts of a statement Mr. Collins gave police in which he said one of the first people he called when he heard about the legislature search was Mr. Coleman.

“I am politically astute enough to know that this is a really, really, really bad thing,” Mr. Collins said of the search. “So I managed to track down the solicitor general. . .[who said] it had something to do with organized crime.”


Question is, was it Solicitor General Coleman's (a former RCMP officer) who told the RCMP to tell the public that the raid was because of organized crime... which now appears to be turning out be the reddest of herrings when perphaps the SG was protecting the BC Liberals from scrutiney in their dealings of the "sale" of BC Rail to CN Rail?
 
A chuckle a day keeps the media at bay:

From Wikipedia:

"The Premier may also choose an individual who is not an MLA to be a cabinet minister, although on the rare occasion that this does happen, the practice is that the minister proceeds to obtain a seat in the House."

In light of the procedural wranglings of the Defense team in having documents released in the BC Rail raid, may one now assume that the access that Patrick Kinsella's had with the Cabinet, the Premier, BC Rail, and CN Rail, might he be seen by the public as someone who was specifically chosen by Premier Gordon Campbell to be a Minister, but without the requirement to run for office?

Unelected, seeking and receiving untendered contracts and protected by Executive Privilege whose work will only be seen by the public?
 
The Globe has a later story by Justine Hunter and marke Hume with some comments by folks.
 
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There's also another Globe and Mail story -- it's a summary, really - by Mark Hume ... and once again, the comments are closed almost as soon as the story appeared.

Strange.

But interesting that The Globe and Mail would have had THREE stories today!!

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June 5, 2001 - Premier's Gordon Campbell's speech from the Cabinet Swearing-in Ceremony at Government House.

Title: Check Against Delivery

"I want our new government to reflect a fundamental change in attitude. The Legislature is there to serve the people, and the cabinet is there to serve the Legislature. Our Legislature will be open. It will be a place where we all learn from one another. It will be a place where we strive to reflect the values of British Columbians and to unite our province in common purpose."

SNIP

".....history and our own conscience will judge us harsher if we do not now make every effort to test our hopes by action. We have tough decisions to make together. At no time in our province's history have so many critical concerns converged. To meet those demands within the taxpayers' means won't be easy, but it nevertheless is what my government was elected to do."
**************************

Gordo has had several speeches that have had the same title of "Check Against Delivery", and for those who may not know what he is talking about, here is one definition from the internet:

"It means that the press release is about a speech to be made and anyone quoting from the press release should check against what the person actually says when delivering the speech. Maybe for some reason the speaker strays from the speechwriter's intention or something changes between the press release and the speech."


Like this:

"Our new operating partner, CN, will assume responsibility for maintaining the rail network and rolling stock. B.C. Rail is currently spending about $40 million a year on maintenance. That's the equivalent of $3.6 billion over the potential term of this lease, which is 60 years with a potential extension for 30." - Gordon Cambpell

Well no Gordon, the contract is for 990 years.

Like this:

"Here are some explicit examples. In the city of North Vancouver currently they receive approximately $5,500 a year in taxes, grants in lieu. They will get $256,000 a year when this new partnership pays its full tax.

The district of North Vancouver currently receives $156,000 in grants in lieu. That will go up to $716,000. In the Peace River district currently they get $59,000 a year in grants in lieu. They'll get $1.3 million in taxes. Squamish-Lillooet: $46,000 in grants in lieu. They will go up to $497,000."

Well no, Gordo, we haven't received a dime in taxes.

Check Against Delivery

ANNOUNCEMENT OF BC RAIL INVESTMENT PARTNERSHIP
November 25, 2003

 
Taken out of context:

"For those of you who wonder if a B.C. Liberal is the same thing as a California liberal, the answer is no.

We are B.C. Liberals: we believe in the private sector; we believe in free enterprise.

We believe that government should set the right public goals and encourage the private sector to get us there. I know from experience that they will if we give them half a chance to do it."

SNIP

Privately, our preference is to railroad the public......
 
Can anyone imagine what it must have felt like to have received a second mandate from the public, not a landslide mind you, but still a majority? No need to clean out the desks, no need to shred anything. But if they had, would the public have had access to all those documents that have been forced into the light of day now because of, Ministerial Aides ?

No!

The Legislative Library, how will they handle this new found wealth of information, will they treat it as a bonanza, or discard all of the information even IF the court decides that corruption was rampant, not only at the three aides level, but through the whole of Cabinet?

How could our Public Servants, LAWYERS too, those who wrote the law that neatly put the components together for the sale of BC Rail, not realize that what they were doing was contrary to the BC Liberals of not selling BC Rail, except for the tracks.....?

Whistle Blowers, not one, except for perhaps the source that Mr. Palmer used in his columns that so rattled them that they his comments showed up in the emails that were siezed by the Police on Raid Day at the Legislature oh so long ago.

CN Rail's apparent unfettered access to the Premier's Office haunts back to the heady days of the Legislative buildings being used as a drop sheet for the sale of Fanatsy Garden.

Where was the media in all of this that they didn't see, not once, CN Rail boss and a lobbyist (a backroom Liberal, a campaign manager) strolling down the legislative halls together, holding hands in deciding the future of their own bottom line?

Where was Gary Collins, Christy Clarke, Rich Coleman, and fellow Cabinet participants to hold aloft their values to the public and say "Match this if you Can".

April first is just around the corner and still the RCMP and the ALC are huddled in their dual investigations of former Solicitor General John Les, a year, and NINE frigging months after their initial starting point.

But gee whiz, we have this to reflect back on:

"I want our new government to reflect a fundamental change in attitude. The Legislature is there to serve the people, and the cabinet is there to serve the Legislature. Our Legislature will be open." - Gordon Campbell

Gordon screwed up, big time.
 
"CN Rail's apparent unfettered access to the Premier's Office haunts back to the heady days of the Legislative buildings being used as a drop sheet for the sale of Fanatsy Garden."

This comparison is a real stretch as Fantasy Gardens was/is merely a cheesy theme park, that IIRC isn't even doing very well these days. But the fact remains, other than using his office for promoting personal business (in dealing with his own private assets), that comparing Willy Wooden Shoes' offense to the theft of BC Rail - A PUBLIC ASSET - is like comparing a parking ticket to murder. They are both offenses but one isn't even a misdemeanor and the other a possibly capital felony.
 
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Excellent additions, thanks all.


Anonymous 6:22 mentions something significant which, I think, is left out of most deliberations on the BC Rail dilemma.

6:22 refers to "the second mandate" and I certainly don't disagree with that premise.

But the era which I think must have played a major role in what happened to BC Rail is the first mandate.

That tremendous landslide (for which we can thank Ujjal Dosanjh who gave up the fight -- and announced as much! -- on the eve of election 2001) ushered in, in my view, the Wild West reborn.

Gordon Campbell was an ambitious creature with a sense of thwarted entitlement. He had told the truth in 1996 ("I will sell BC Rail") and got whupped. Desperate, he lied in 2001 ("I will NOT sell BC Rail") ...

and then found himself with a virtual dictatorship of 77 government MLAs facing an Opposition reduced to 2 MLAs.

The first act was the act of a madman-idiot: to reduce corporate taxes which clearly said "Thanks, Guys!" to his big business promoters. And from there, the stage was set.

Battling valiantly, the Opposition of Joy MacPhail and Jenny Kwan could only lay down the paper trail which, if we go back through Hansard, we can still follow. But there was no stopping the 77-member government and Campbell knew it.

When I think of the origins of the BC Rail deal I can almost imagine it being thrown together as a form of high-jinx in this climate. Who did they have to fear? To whom did they owe accountability? Phhtt. They had the power. They knew they could do as they pleased for at least 4 years -- and this can be seen in the legislation and cutbacks of the time.

By imagining that kind of ethical atmosphere, I can begin to understand how a premier might not notice the amazingly bad image of a public policy which allowed close friends to be paid large sums of money by both sides of a "public" auction, to the inclusion of some, and the exclusion of others. At their whim.

And then to keep the terms of that deal (be it a lease, an option, or a sale) a secret from the very people who had owned BC Rail ... the people of BC ...

So I think Mandate #1 holds the key to how such blatant stupidity could have happened.

Furthermore, there's some evidence to suggest that this blatant stupidity/confidence had its origins in very secret talks among those key figures prior to the 2001 election.

So, as I see it, Mandate #2 after 2004 -- when the New Democrats came close to winning -- was the first much-needed curb on the Campbell government.

I'd be interested to know if others get the same impression.

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"So, as I see it, Mandate #2 after 2004 -- when the New Democrats came close to winning -- was the first much-needed curb on the Campbell government.
"


Obviously not a sufficient curb though. Indeed, I personally feel that Joy and Jenny did a better job of trying to hold these crooks accountable against insurmountable odds than the current excuse for an opposition. The appropriate curb would be cuffs (and in this case I would even approve some Taser™ use) applied to the whole cabal!

Perp Walk Please!!!!!
 
I think timing is now the important thing here - this morning the political panel (Bob Plecas, Elizabeth Cull and Sheila Orr) on CBC Victoria were discussing the BC Rail case and the Kinsella connections.

Both Plecas and Orr jumped on the 'fact' that the meetings between Kinsella, Campbell and the CN execs were essentially damage control to keep the sale from going sideways in the months after the deal was reached and, therefore, according to their lights, not a REAL problem.

Aside from the superficiality of that analysis, it indicates to me what the likely talking points of the Campbell forces will be.

I think it is doubly important to demonstrate the connections (and the possible collusion) of the parties PRIOR TO the sale in November of 2003....After the fact, the meetings and coziness is salable as typical business dealings; before the fact - in a process meant to be fair and equitable to all parties - it ain't. This was a deal made in the Premier’s Office before the bidding ever began – and that’s what needs to be proved

Therefore, evidence of collusion prior to the announcement of the sale (such as Nettleton's statements) is going to be essential.

An annotated time line of these events and the involvement of members of cabinet, caucus and the OIC civil service as well as CN and BC Rail is going to be an important resource if this thing is going to make an impact on the broader public.

The picture has to be drawn so precisely and so convincingly that the busiest citizen, the most un-aware observer, cannot be fooled any longer by the CEO's spin.
 
I think we need to start thinking in a more "progressive" way to deal with this situation. The average person does not seem to care much about the details of a financial transaction, even if it did steal from them as taxpayers. We need to use the techniques they would use against democratically minded individuals...like.... tie the actions of the Campbell Liberals to AIG. "These are the same types that are currently sucking greedily from the public purse at AIG!! Campbell and his group of thieves have been robbing the taxpayers blind while giving themselves outrageous raises in pay, and the people that pay them are expected to make due with reductions in the minimum wage! We are being robbed and pitchforks and torches should be the order of the day! LETS GET THOSE BASTARDS AND SHOW THEM WHAT WE REALLY THINK!!!!"

Perhaps individuals can be brought into the realm of reality with a bit of "shock and awe". Make it popular to say "lets kick some Socred...oops, BCLiberal ass!" Just keep bringing up the wealthy scumbags that have precipitated the recession/depression we are heading into. Put a face on the economic crisis for British Columbians....Gordon Campbell's... The main difference from what they would do is that WE are telling the truth...
 
Thanks Robin, for attending court and for reporting back on all that proceeded there. It is much appreciated.

Anon 8:09 wrote:


Quote:


"Question is, was it Solicitor General Coleman's (a former RCMP officer) who told the RCMP to tell the public that the raid was because of organized crime... which now appears to be turning out be the reddest of herrings when perphaps the SG was protecting the BC Liberals from scrutiney in their dealings of the "sale" of BC Rail to CN Rail?"

I think that's a really good question, Anon 8:09.

I have one, too.

What if we think counter-intuitively for a moment, what if "the raid" was planned? - as a way to remove documents "legally" from the public's legislative buildings "to protect" them for awhile, until inconvenient details from a now suspect sale could be removed? All done under the guise of what Anon. 8:09 mentions, a red herring drug deal, to protect the details of the sale of BC Rail from public scrutiny?


I mean why were the seized documents placed with Justice Dohm in the first place? It seemed a strange thing to do and still does.

And why all the blacking out of search warrants? Why was this necessary?

As reported by Robin Mathews some years back:


Quote:

"Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm has kept secret from the Canadian public search warrant material issued in 2003. In his grand gesture to "release" the corrupt BC Rail sale search warrants in September, 2004, he blacked out (in number of pages) wholly or in part considerably more than half of the material. Bill Tielemann records it as at "about 80 percent of the search warrant information". (Georgia Straight Sept 16 04 23)"

That, too seems strange. Why would search warrants need to be so protected?
 
From Hansard: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3, 2004 Afternoon Sitting
Volume 21, Number 5


"Hon. G. Collins: The member goes on at length about speculation — speculation in the media, lots of speculation by the member opposite. I'm not conducting an inquiry in my office. I've said that previously. There is an investigation ongoing. Let the investigators do their investigation. I'm not going to interfere in that. I'm not going to do an internal investigation. I'm not going to go out there and hunt people down.

You know, some of the questions that have been asked by media in the last couple of months have, quite frankly, been pretty offensive. I was asked at one point if I knew of any other relatives of Mr. Basi who were still working in government. What does that imply? Does that imply we're supposed to go through the government directory, check all the Indo-Canadian names and find if there's somebody related to David Basi, then go and ask them if they're related and then go fire them? I mean, I don't know what the member is getting at."


To which the BC Liberals have since that moment in time done exactly that by re-writing the Public Service Code of Ethics:

"....... Employees who are direct relatives or who permanently reside together may not be employed in situations where:
a reporting relationship exists where one employee has influence, input or decision-making power over the other employee’s performance evaluation, salary, premiums, special permissions, conditions of work and similar matters;
or
the working relationship affords an opportunity for collusion between the two employees that would have a detrimental effect on the Employer’s interest.
The above restriction on working relationships may be waived provided that the deputy minister is satisfied that sufficient safeguards are in place to ensure that the Employer’s interests are not compromised."


And now back to Hansard and MLA Collins reply to MLA McPhail:

McPhail: ".......On the basis of giving the severance to Mr. Basi…. I assume that the severance was given to Mr. Basi on a discussion that there was cause or no cause and that whether there be cause or no cause must have been discussed with the Minister of Finance.

Hon. G. Collins: As I said yesterday, I was not involved in that decision. It was done through the Public Service Agency and Mr. Brown, whose role it is and to whom Mr. Basi reported."


.... done through the PBSA and Mr. Brown, whose role it is and to whom Mr. Basi reported.?????

"Role" being the PBSA and "reporting" to Mr. Brown

Why haven't we heard more about Mr. Brown in the disclosures in the BC Rail pre-trial phase?
 
Anon 1:27, in regard to Mr. Brown, (who as head of the Public Afffairs Bureau reports directly to the premier), here he is from hansard apparently calling the shots in the legislature as the BC Liberals prepare to ram through the BC Rail legislation:

Joy MacPhail:

" Here we are again today. They want to ram through the B.C. Rail legislation with no scrutiny, because every moment and every hour there's more scrutiny on this B.C. Rail sell-off deal, it becomes more suspicious, more suspect. Certainly, the claims are ripped to tatters about the benefits of the deal. No, the Government House Leader doesn't even bother to offer an explanation on that.

Here's what happened.

My colleague the member for Vancouver–Mount Pleasant and I got called out into the hallway two days ago, on Monday around 5 o'clock, and a reporter says to us: "How do you feel about the Legislature being extended?" We said: "Huh — pardon? You must have your information wrong, reporter." And the reporter said: "Well, no, I called public affairs bureau, and they confirmed that the Legislature would be extended by a week."



Public affairs bureau. What is public affairs bureau? It's that spin-doctoring $45 million organization of political appointees that reports directly to the Premier and writes news releases that give new meaning to
misleading Liberal-speak every day. We saw a perfect example of that yesterday. Public affairs bureau is running this legislative chamber.

Do you know how ashamed my colleague and I felt? It was shame, actually. We were embarrassed, and we actually wanted to say: "Oh no, you must be wrong. That can't be so." This reporter — who is a darn good reporter, I might add, as they all are — said: "No, no. The public affairs bureau confirmed it." We said: "But that's not possible. There's no notice of motion." "Oh yes, it's true."

Then later that evening the Government House Leader snuck in a notice of motion that we're now debating. No explanation from the government why they're doing that — none. So shame on them. Clearly, it is with shame that they're doing this."
 
Where's the hot link Lynx?
 
Sorry, here's the link from hansard. (Scroll about halfway down page.)

Amendment to Sessional Order:

Wednesday, November 26, 2003. Afternoon sitting:

http://www.leg.bc.ca/Hansard/37th4th/h31126p.htm
 
On the link that Lynx has provided and using the search criteria of "collins", this appears just above his name:


"CN RAIL OPERATION OF B.C. RAIL
SERVICES AND IMPACT ON JOBS

P. Nettleton: I have some serious issues to raise with respect to potential job loss at B.C. Rail. The figures that are being bandied about really are all over the landscape. According to a leading B.C. columnist, the latest and perhaps most accurate figures seem to be a possible 35 percent reduction in the workforce." SNIP.... and a response from the Premier
 
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