Thursday, April 30, 2009


Kinsella brought up at Basi-Virk trial

David Basi (right) walks with his lawyer Michael Bolton to the Victoria Law Courts in 2007.

David Basi (right) walks with his lawyer, Michael Bolton to Victoria Law Courts in 2007. Photo by Debra Brash file photo.

The controversy over Patrick Kinsella continues to boil over at the court case of three former Liberal government aides facing corruption charges.

The defence lawyers for accused David Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi on Thursday told a judge that they want access to documents involving Kinsella, a Liberal party insider, and the $1-billion sale of B.C. Rail that led to the criminal charges.

{Snip} ...

The hearing also featured several testy exchanges between Sullivan and Kevin McCullough, Virk’s lawyer.

McCullough demanded to know how long Kinsella had had access to transcripts of the hearings in March at which the defence levelled certain allegations against him.

He wanted to know who exactly had read the transcripts, in light of the judge’s concern that witnesses or potential witnesses not have access to them.

But Sullivan said one of the reasons his client is concerned is that McCullough’s “imagination tends to run wild. These allegations are both spurious and unsupported.” McCullough bridled at those accusations.

At the hearings in March, the defence suggested that Kinsella had worked for both CN and B.C. Rail in the sale of B.C. Rail to CN.

McCullough said the sale was a “fix” from the beginning and a “political sham.”

{Snip} ...

Read the full news story HERE.


Patrick Kinsella's lawyer, defence fight in court over BC Rail allegations

Bill Tieleman - April 30, 2009

... Michael Bolton, lawyer for David Basi, said Kinsella will likely be a witness in the trial.

And McCullough raised concerns about who has seen transcripts of the pre-trial hearings obtained by Sullivan through a transcript company, saying potential witnesses are not supposed to see them.

“It’s a very serious issue. These transcripts were out when they ought not to have been,” McCullough said.

See Bill's complete column with very interesting comments about Thursday's pre-trial combat.



Basi Virk hearing today

File #23299 Basi, Virk, Basi appears in BC Supreme Court listings for today, April 30, 2009 scheduled to begin at 9:30 AM.

Thanks to Public Eye Online for the heads-up.

Note: Watch for a special write-up on the Basi Virk Basi trial ... next week ... in the plain-speaking Indo Canadian Voice Online.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009


The BC Rail Case: 2001-2005, a time of reckless power


I've always thought that people, left to themselves, see the truth of things. I think people saw through Gordon Campbell very quickly after he was elected premier of British Columbia in 2001. The outrage spills out of the archives.

"Vindictive even in Victory," commented one citizen in The Tyee, "[they] refuse opposition party status to the surviving twin sisters of the post NDP apocalypse ... even though they represented over 35% of the 2001 popular vote." A majority government of 77 to 2 wasn't enough for him.

Campbell shocked the entire province when he closed schools, hospitals, courthouses, jails, forestry offices, highway offices. He cancelled bus passes for the elderly, cancelled the Talking Books for the Blind program, reduced legal aid. He removed the freeze on university fees. And much more. It was as if he hated every person who wasn't wealthy enough to hold him in check. To those who were wealthy, he gave a 28% income tax cut.

People understood that. A Robbins Research poll published on April 15, 2003 reflected the public shock:

Question #3

Are you satisfied with the performance of Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals to date?

Yes 24 %
No 76 %

Campbell, after 4 years in Opposition, was feeling the extraordinary power of a 77 to 2 majority government. Who could stop him now? I've always thought of his first term 2001-2005 as a Wild West chapter of B.C. history ... when BC Rail was lost ... when BC Hydro was undermined ... when organized crime was soaring ... when the province was being taken apart, bit by bit.

The hidden worry should have been that Gordo's cohorts also found that he could change the news ... change the information base upon which people develop their opinions, their decisions. I've heard it said but cannot prove that it was Accenture which introduced the possibilities of what the government-funded Public Affairs Bureau could do ... and somehow Accenture took hold of BC Hydro in a death grip.

And who was in charge of one powerful thread of these early Public Affairs assignments? Dave Basi. A defence lawyer said in pre-trial hearings: Dave Basi was in charge of administering "media monitoring contracts".

The contracts were "a highly political effort" to sway public opinion through radio talk shows and other media. So said another lawyer representing Bobby Virk, former ministerial assistant to then transportation minister Judith Reid.

Michael Bolton, the veteran lawyer who is defending David Basi, quietly set off multiple sticks of political dynamite by reading into the record a wiretapped cell phone conversation between Basi and Collins on October 31, 2003.

The call took place less than a month before the BC Rail sale to CN Rail was announced and as opponents to the planned deal were mobilizing against the B.C. Liberal government.

The call allegedly captures the type of media manipulation that has already been headlined previously in this case but this time Gary Collins is directly involved.

The following is a transcript taken from Bolton's statement in court and is slightly abbreviated:

Collins: Hello.

Dave Basi: Hi boss. Judith Reid was on Ben Meisner [at the time, a Prince George radio talk show host] -- she handled herself real well. There was only one call and it was ours.

Collins: Good.

Basi: Bill Vander Zalm will be on [radio] with Barb Sharp -- mayor of North Vancouver. [former B.C. premier Vander Zalm and Sharp both opposed BC Rail privatization]

Collins: Uh-huh.

Basi: I wanted to have the mayor of Squamish, who's a good friend of ours, rip Barb Sharp a new asshole. Is that okay?

Collins: Absolutely.

Basi: I called Jerry Lampert of the [BC] Business Council and said: 'Jerry, we need your help.' The Prince George Citizen might take an op-ed but they don't want only positive pieces.

Collins: Well, you could do that....I want you to keep this completely to yourself because there's only two of us who know about this."

At the time of the phony call to the radio station, in which Dave Basi and Gary Collins were planning to "rip a new a**hole" in a B.C. Mayor who defended BC Rail, Basi was in charge of administering "media monitoring contracts" that were paid for by the B.C. Liberal party, McCullough said. Yes, allegedly being paid to work for Gordo's party while being paid to work for Gordo's government.

I believe that in a time of reckless power, reckless decisions were taken. And a hostile population was not smoothing the path of Gordo's swiftly changing visions. The Public Affairs Bureau expanded in an effort to sway public opinion . If PAB could help British Columbians to learn to love losing BC Rail ... what else could they do? Could they help Gordo win another election?


On Thursday, lawyers acting on behalf of teachers sent a letter asking the Premier to apologize and retract his defamatory comments of May 12th. In his comments, Campbell falsely claimed that teachers are "planning to throw our schools into chaos..." in a "duplicitous plan" to strike "only weeks before provincial exams."

The letter (download as a pdf here) corrected the false claims, and requested a retraction and apology from the Premier by 4:30pm Friday, May 13th. The Premier has failed to retract his comments by the deadline, and the BCTF will commence a lawsuit on behalf of BC teachers. BCTF President Jinny Sims said she wants to assure parents that there is absolutely no plan for any disruption in the school year. Disturbingly, the BC Liberals are playing 'politics of fear' with students and parents in the last week of the election.

B.C.'s government-funded Public Affairs Bureau became larger than any newsroom in Canada. Their influence spread more widely.

Miro Cernitag described this in Vancouver Sun, when he had e.mailed, asking a simple question: "Then I noticed something curious underneath that official's e-mail back to me. He'd forgotten to delete the "tracking history" of where my original question had been dispatched. It showed I'd been vetted by the premier's office, one of his senior aides, a deputy minister and then handed back to the mighty Public Affairs Bureau."

What's the Public Affairs Bureau? Well, PAB is essentially an in-house information spin machine, housed in the legislature's basement.

It has a $28-million budget. It has 223 full-time news spinners. And it has high-tech systems that allow them to monitor all media in the province and transcribe it in almost real time. If a political thought is broadcast or printed in this province, chances are PAB has found it and combed it for any political import.

Here's some perspective. There isn't a newsroom in Canada with 223 full-time reporters covering a province. And no newsroom anywhere covers a legislature with the same intensity as PAB.

With all that going for him, Gordo was re-elected in 2005 ... but only by the skin of his teeth. People understood.

Only one journalist so far has tackled the fascinating study of Gordon Campbell. Only one. That 2005 analysis begins this way:

The media establishment in British Columbia is infamous for its vicious aim when it comes to public figures caught in the headlights of scandals. Or rather, it used to be. In the past, politics in BC was universally regarded as a blood sport, and that blood - usually that of whomever the sitting Premier of the day was - was largely spilled down the blades of grinning media hacks. But during the last four years, despite a thick odour of scandal wafting over the province, Gordon Campbell and the Liberals have miraculously escaped the slightest nick ...

To be continued ...



Former Attorney-General smells cover-up in sale of BC Rail


Former attorney-general Alex Macdonald was on the phone urging me to pay more heed to the legal smokescreen being used to divert scrutiny from the impugned sale of BC Rail assets.

Macdonald was incensed at the Liberal government's response to questions about the scandal and the role, if any, played by the ultimate provincial insider, Patrick Kinsella.

"I smell a cover-up," he insisted.

{Snip} ...

Attorney-General Wally Oppal's recent invocation of the "sub judice rule" to defend the government's refusal to comment had Macdonald frothing in retirement.

"What unadulterated legal nonsense!" he fulminated. "I resent having the wool pulled over my eyes. This is almost a joke."

Macdonald saw absolutely no reason for the government not to answer questions about Kinsella and certainly not because of the mumbo-jumbo about "sub judice" offered by his contemporary successor.

Kinsella, mentioned peripherally in the legal proceedings, was not before the court and no one was asking about the guilt or innocence of those who were in the dock, the legal veteran said: Oppal was obfuscating.

"If they get away with it now, they'll get away with it in future," Macdonald warned.

A longtime socialist gadfly [wha-at??], Macdonald wrote a book a few years ago, Outrage -- Canada's Justice System on Trial, that took great swipes at the young offenders law, procedural wrangling, the Charter and other modern court procedures that got up his nose. The acerbic iconoclast spent 40 years practising law and remains impassioned.

Macdonald is angry the Liberals broke their promise not to sell the provincial railway and he's tired of waiting to hear answers to the criminal charges that tarnished that sale.

The New Democrat complained about the sell-out of the vision of premier Richard McBride, who launched the railway in 1911, "pushing it north through rugged terrain," Macdonald romantically added.

I impudently asked if he knew the old Tory personally. [Jerk. Ian, I mean. Not Alex.]

He harrumphed -- McBride died in 1917.

Macdonald was born here in 1918, the son of former attorney-general M.A. Macdonald. He became secretary to Cooperative Commonwealth Federation leader M.J. Coldwell in 1944, running unsuccessfully as a CCFer twice before being elected for the NDP in Vancouver-Kingsway. He became B.C.'s longest-sitting MLA and moved into his father's former office as attorney-general in 1972 under Premier Dave Barrett.

In My Dear Legs: Letters to a Young Social Democrat, published in the mid-1980s, Macdonald recalled his life in politics and dispensed advice to the new generation. In Alex in Wonderland a decade later, he argued for a better world through cooperation, decency and hard work.

He has never been shy of venting his spleen. But in this case Macdonald was making good points.

"How come that criminal case is still going on after five years and still we have not gotten to the soup and nuts?" the old warhorse asked. "Five years, my God."

The May 12 election is the second since the most senior level of the provincial government civil service was accused of corruption. Yet we still do not know the particulars.

He's right.

"In 1788, U.S. president James Madison said, 'Abridgements of the freedom of the people can come by silent encroachments of those in power,'" Macdonald said. "Let's not let this encroachment get away with silence."

That's a little deep for me.

Unfortunately, like the rest of us, Macdonald must wait until the Supreme Court of Canada rules later this year on whether defence lawyers should be told the identity of the police informant at the heart of this prosecution.

Only if the special prosecutor wins the day to preserve the person's anonymity will B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett be able to finish the trial.

There is a chance it could all be derailed.


Aw, Ian. Jeez. So you're saying Berardino is now Judge, and that Berardino will decide that this case will not proceed? You OK with that idea?

Aw ... forget it. Jeeez.

But wait. There's a fading post-it still stuck to the frame of my computer which says April 22, DAVE BARRETT to speak in Vancouver on behalf of Mel Lehan who is contesting the Vancouver-Point Grey riding against an overpaid, over-publicized poster boy for the BC Liberals. Guess it was a tough call in the newsroom.

So I didn't see any mention whatever of that rare event featuring a popular speaker of the NDP persuasion. No mention. Is that worse than a sneering, jeering mention? I wonder.

- BC Mary.


Noted in passing ...

Queen of the North survivor testifies to flashbacks

Keith Fraser

The Province - April 30, 2009

The story is HERE. And because the survivor in this news report is a retired BC Rail trainman, I especially wanted to leave a comment. I wrote the comment carefully because, after all, it's a message of condolence. However, it wouldn't post on The Province site. A message popped up on my computer screen: Please try again, it said.

Several hours later, I was going to try again ... but the comment section for that story had disappeared. Na, no, no, heck no, I don't think it has anything to do with my mention of BC Rail. Do you?

This is what I wanted to say, especially to Les Wilson, the retired BCR trainman:

Sincere sympathy is owed to Les Wilson, Josh Snow age 15, and all other survivors of that awful event when the Queen of the North sank to the bottom of the ocean.

Each of us has memories which come to the surface in times of extreme stress like this. I don't mean the post-traumatic stress ... I mean older memories of our past traumas which remain hidden but have a way of guiding our thoughts and actions as we carry on living our lives.

Mr Wilson said something which touched my heart, and made me wonder.

He said, "I feel a bad thing is going to happen." This, from a man who has already survived the loss to our province of BC Rail. Then Queen of the North.

I couldn't help thinking that Mr Wilson has every reason to recognize "a bad thing" because bad things had happened in his life, not once but twice. I sincerely hope he finds comfort in knowing that people care about that, as well.

Best wishes to all the survivors.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Lara & Gordo


DSC_559522275 - assistant t& Premier

DSC_559522275 - assistant t& Premier by FlungingPictures.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Lara Dauphinee. Sometimes the story is in the silence


"The premier must lead by example. His office must lead by example."

- Premier Gordon Campbell, speaking to the BC Legislature, May 1999.


"I'm sad to say that when it comes to secrecy, this Premier certainly has led by example."

- Carole James, Leader of the BC Opposition, speaking to the Legislature, May 2007.

We have heard the rumours. We have heard the denials. Who is Lara Dauphinee? What does she do in one of the top jobs in the government of British Columbia? Hers might be a story of inspiration to all young women ... if only we knew her story.

Like most others, I had shrugged off the rumours as "Gordo's private life". Perhaps that's what prevented most of us from asking about the Deputy Chief of Staff in the premier's office. Somebody's private life.

That changed last week when I heard about the 2001 letter of referral which brought Bobby Virk into the B.C. history books as Aide to the Minister of Transportation ... a letter by Gordon Campbell and Lara Dauphinee.

Private life, my elbow.

So who is Laura Dauphinee? What does she do for British Columbia that earns her an estimated $299,215. a year plus expenses to travel the world at the premier's side? How exactly does she help us by guiding every hour (they say) of the premier's day?

Who better to explain the basics, than Gordo himself in this Hansard record of Legislature Debates 2007. It's a start.


2007 Legislative Session: Third Session, 38th Parliament
May 28, 2007 pm

C. James [Leader of the B.C. Opposition]: ... I'll take that as a yes — that the Premier and any MLAs will testify, if they are called to, in the [Basi Virk Basi] court case.

I'd now like to move on to the Premier's staff and the Premier's office itself and take a look at the budget for the office, at specific staff, at the roles of specific staff ... My question to the Premier would be: what's your office using that money for?

Hon. G. Campbell [Premier]: Could the Leader of the Opposition just repeat the budget amount that she's concerned about?

C. James: It's $7.67 million for executive and support services.

Hon. G. Campbell: I take the question to be effectively: what is the Premier's office spending its money on?

The Premier serves as the president of the executive council of cabinet with the government of British Columbia. I head cabinet. My office is responsible for coordinating activities amongst ministers, ministries, agencies of government. The Office of the Premier provides advice and support to the Premier and the cabinet to facilitate effective and integrated operations in the government of British Columbia, and it leads the public service to achieve the government's directions.

We have highlighted three specific core areas of activity. First, the Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat. The secretariat works with all ministries and Crown agencies to ensure that relations between the federal, provincial and international governments advance British Columbia's interests.

Second, the deputy ministers policy secretariat is under our vote. The deputy ministers policy secretariat is a corporate resource for ministries and deputy ministers. It works with line ministries, the deputy ministers committee on natural resources and the economy, the deputy ministers committee on social development and agencies to provide leadership and assist in advancing key policy issues in an integrated fashion horizontally across government. The secretariat provides leadership in policy, program development and performance planning for all ministries.

Third, the executive and support services — the Premier's office and executive operations. The deputy minister to the Premier leads the public service, coordinates activities of all ministries and Crown agencies. They manage key relationships on behalf of the Premier and provide strategic advice, media relations, issues management support directly to the Premier and cabinet. Executive operations includes cabinet operations, which provide administrative support and services for cabinet decision-making processes, documentation and serving the needs of cabinet on an ongoing basis as well as cabinet committees and government caucus committees.

C. James: Continuing on with some clarification questions before we get into the specifics around the individual staff in the Premier's office and what those staff do, how much of this budget is directed to media monitoring and issues management?

Hon. G. Campbell: The specific amount is not broken out for those various activities, but as the Leader of the Opposition knows, there are components of the Premier's office which are currently engaged in media monitoring and communications. I would be glad to discuss those activities if she thinks that would be beneficial.

C. James: Yes, I would. If the Premier could describe what activities he would include in his office in media-monitoring issues management — what would be staff, what would be other resources and how those would be divided up.

Hon. G. Campbell: I think the Leader of the Opposition will have an organization chart to highlight some of the positions that take place. Of course, there is the chief of staff. There's the deputy chief of staff and the executive assistant to the Premier. [Lara Dauphinee. - BC Mary] She is responsible for the Premier's communication branch, the Premier's scheduling branch, the Premier's correspondence branch.

She's responsible for the recruitment and hiring of administrative coordinators and support staff in the Victoria minister's office. She's responsible for operations of the Premier's Vancouver and Victoria offices, including recruitment, hiring and ongoing review of administrative coordinators and support staff. She is responsible for the Premier's tour and special events. She is the lead liaison with the protection detail. She organizes the Premier's travel and meetings and events, and she ensures that follow-up takes place.

There is a deputy chief of staff for policy coordination and issues management, who reports to the chief of staff. He coordinates issues management for the Premier and the chief of staff across government and provides strategic advice for the government's policy and legislative objectives. He has a number of key responsibilities: to provide issues management and policy advice to the Premier, as I mentioned; to coordinate issues management activities of the government vis-à-vis the ministerial offices; to provide the Premier with all issues management briefing materials necessary for preparation for announcements, events, legislative sessions.

Under the direction of the chief of staff, they are jointly responsible for human resources, for HR management with ministerial assistants and executive assistants. They're responsible for research and legislative support for the Premier, including oversight of House business.

There is also a director for policy coordination who works with the deputy chief of staff for policy coordination and issues management and who also provides political advice to the Premier. He compiles and coordinates briefing materials on current and emerging political matters. He provides advice and support to ministerial assistants. He coordinates research and information in support of the activities of the Premier.

There is a press secretary to the Premier whose overall responsibility is to maintain and enhance the working relationship between the Office of the Premier and members of the legislative press gallery and other provincial media. He is responsible for working with the executive director of communications and other public affairs staff to ensure that all information that relates to the Office of the Premier is coordinated and communicated in the appropriate manner.

He's responsible for keeping the Office of the Premier apprised of emerging issues and events that are of potential interest to the provincial media. He is responsible for the timely distribution of media advisories, press releases and communiqués to the provincial media that are in the name of the Premier.

The executive assistant to the chief of staff is also a manager of human resources and carries out those responsibilities with ministerial assistants and executive assistants. She coordinates ministerial assistants' and executive assistants' performance and planning evaluations, among other things. She is responsible for keeping the chief of staff informed of major projects as they arise, and she attends and coordinates meetings on behalf of the chief of staff and in place of the chief of staff as required.

There is a director of communications who reports, as I mentioned earlier, to the deputy chief of staff and executive assistant for the Premier [that is, to Lara Dauphinee. - BC Mary]. His task is to ensure coordination of communications in support of the Premier and the Premier's office, to coordinate news releases and backgrounders, op-eds, regional editorials, speech notes, etc. He is also involved in the media relations. He supervises the media monitoring manager, the producer of audiovisual media and the senior coordinator for website and direct media.

The manager for media monitoring reports directly to the director of communications. He monitors all major provincial, regional, national and multicultural media on a real-time basis. His key responsibilities are to keep all staff in the Premier's office apprised of ongoing developments in the media on a real-time basis.

There is a senior coordinator of website and direct media who is responsible for the development and implementation of communication strategies related to the website, on-line media, the Internet and e-mail communications — with key responsibilities being the development, design and coordination of websites and on-line media; graphic design as needed; and the development and implementation of the use of e-newsletters.

There is a producer of audiovisual material who, again, is primarily responsible for producing Premier's videos from concept to distribution. It includes filming and editing. She is also a strong advocate for a governmentwide use of audiovisual media in terms of the communications strategies that we develop.

C. James: One more clarification question before we get into the specific staff. The budget amount in the Premier's office has gone up, but the number of people in the Premier's office has gone down. Is that correct?

Hon. G. Campbell: Just so the Leader of the Opposition…. She may not have heard this, but the government has realigned the budgets and related costs for shared services for human resources, information and technology services and rent costs so that ministries receiving the services show those costs in their budgets.

In the Office of the Premier, that amounted to $810,000. There was also a negotiated wage increase that increased the budget in the Office of the Premier. That amount was $227,000, so the budget for the Office of the Premier is up approximately a million dollars.

At the time of posting, no photo of Lara Dauphinee has been found. This is a remarkable situation when the premier's office exercises strong control over media, as may be seen in the premier's own description in the Legislature.

To be continued.
- BC Mary


Thursday, April 23, 2009


B.C. Election Act does NOT require political parties to make their websites inaccessible


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: FW: A question
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2009 13:13:17 -0700
From: Western, Nola EBC:EX

Dear [Concerned Citizen of B.C.],

The Election Act does not require registered political parties to make parts of their websites inaccessible during a campaign period. I am unable to provide any clarification on why some sites may appear to be inaccessible.


M. Nola Western, CA
Executive Director, Electoral Finance & Corporate Administration
Elections BC
Phone: (250) 387-4141
Toll-free: 1-800-661-8683 / TTY 1-888-456-5448
Fax: (250) 387-3578
Location: 1117 Wharf Street, Victoria

-----Original Message-----
From: [Concerned Citizen of B.C.]
Sent: April 22, 2009 5:26 PM
To: Elections BC, Generalmail EBC:EX
Subject: A question

To whom it may concern,

Why are both the NDP and the BCLiberal web sites (or at least current parts of them) inaccessible since the dropping of the writ?

I assume the same applies to the other parties - although I haven't checked. Given the fact that many citizens rely upon the internet for information relative to matters democratic and political this seems a very strange development.

I've read through the Election Act and can find no section which would seem to require what seems to be to be a rather absurd situation - the airwaves and papers are polluted with unavoidable and annoying political advertising of every conceivable type - most of questionable veracity - and yet the parties themselves are not permitted to use their web sites (often where information important to citizens and constituents is at least occasionally available) nor is the public allowed to access them.

This seems a most curious and anti-democratic measure which I intend to take up with whatever party is responsible for such an absurdity.

Any clarification you can supply would be most helpful.

Yours truly,

[Concerned Citizen of B.C.]

We should now be asking ourselves how we have fallen into such a trap that we would even think of accepting the closure of democratic channels this way.

So I want to know: who closed those sites down! We need those sites re-opened immediately. People (including me) need access to that information.

Special thanks to the "Concerned Citizen of B.C." for progress this far.

- BC Mary

BC Election rules seem to have gone rogue. Read:

Print a leaflet. Go to jail!
It could be you. BC's Election Act doesn't just throttle the big spenders.

The Tyee - April 23, 2009


G West has left a new comment on your post "B.C. Election Act does NOT require political parties to make websites inaccessible ...":

I think I have a clarification. The action has nothing to do with the election act (as the BC Liberals seem to imply on their site) but is a function of the fact that the documents and other information are on the site of the 'Official Opposition' which is under the jurisdiction of the legislature and not the chief electoral officer. I suppose the same applies to at least some of the facilities of the Government - ie, the BC Liberals.

It is an arcane and ridiculous hopes the documents will soon be available in another venue which actually has concerns for the public interest.

The impartiality of the legislature - given the events that took (and take) place there in association with the Basi Virk affair and the activities of the CEO and his business friends - seems to have been compromised already to a point where such a threadbare attempt as this only points out how far down the road to corruption of supposedly democratic institutions we have travelled since 2001.

Posted by G West to The Legislature Raids at April 24, 2009 10:46 AM



Wanted: photos of Lara Dauphinee

needed for a 4-part story I am working on. Why can't I find a photo myself?

Well ... so far as I can detect, there aren't any photos of
the powerful Deputy Chief of Staff and Executive Assistant, who is never far from the side of the premier. No photos. None.

So far, she is identifiable only by the photo captions saying "Missing from the photo is ... Lara Dauphinee."

Sometimes the story is in the silence. Every historian knows this. Mothers know this. Missing from the photos but always by his side. A bureaucrat with power. Tomorrow I will post Gordo's own description in Hansard of her two offices, one in Victoria, one in Vancouver.

What's with that? I'm asking.

Links or photos can be sent as a comment to this post. Write NOT FOR PUBLICATION across the top, if you wish. All help will be much appreciated. - BC Mary.



Just a doggone minute here ... I've heard of highway robbery but this?

An M.L.A. in B.C. receives a base salary of $101,859. a year plus travel allowances and a gold-plated pension plan. The premier's salary was $186,200 until August 2008 when he gave himself a 54% pay raise, but he too qualifies for this additional $127,324 + other stuff.

Right now and up until May 12, we see these very people fighting tooth and nail for a job that's so tough, so punishing, so awful that the winners feel the need of final cash gifts "Passed by a committee that runs the Legislature" ... ? What the heck does that mean?

Apparently it means that whoever runs the Legislature used their power while they still had it. They've legalized another cash gift for themselves because they've been so abused, overworked, unappreciated that their pain can only be relieved by another $127,324. + $9,000. + ... ? Unlike everybody else in this world, they win even if they lose.

And they're telling that to British Columbians who pay these "salaries"? BC's MLAs talk this kind of talk to the people of this troubled province ... not just to the dwindling ranks of working people but also to the pensioners, the unemployed, the underpaid, sick, the homeless?

Enough already. Is this Somalia? British Col
ombia? what? - BC Mary.

Taxpayers on hook for millions to help ousted politicians get new jobs


Lose, retire or quit, it’s still going to be a win-win situation for provincial MLAs.

The day after the May 12 B.C. election, a dozen former MLAs who are not running again will be eligible for up to 15 months full salary and benefits, at a cost of $1.5 million to taxpayers.

Any incumbents defeated at the polls will add to that amount.

The so-called ‘transitional assistance’, designed to cushion the blow of re-entry into the workforce, amounts to $127,324 per MLA.

They will also get educational help of up to $9,000.

The money will be payable every two weeks while the outgoing MLAs look for work, and will be immediately accessible.

Each MLA gets a minimum of four months transition money, $33,953, even if they have another job to go to.

Among the 12 MLAs eligible for the money are outgoing Liberals Olga Ilich, Sindi Hawkins, Rick Thorpe and Tom Christensen.

The former NDP MLAs who qualify for the money are Corky Evans and Chuck Puchmayr.

Four MLA’s who quit before their term ended, such as former Finance Minister Carole Taylor and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, don’t qualify for the severance deal.

They opted to resign before their four-year term expired, forgoing the transition money.

The transitional assistance program used to give outgoing MLA’s severance, pro-rated on years served.

Olga Ilich was elected in 2005, but can get the same money as Claude Richmond, who was first elected in 1981.

The change to the transitional allowance was recommended in an independent review of MLA compensation.

Back in 2007, the transition money was an internal policy change, never making it into legislation.

Legislative comptroller Dan Arbic said the intent of transitional assistance was to give them money to find new employment. “Severance implies an employer-employee relationship, and you get fired without cause,” said Arbic.

“It’s basically an amount provided to members, to kind of bridge a certain period of time for get them to reintegrate into the workforce.” The money ceases when the MLA gets a new job, takes the pension, or dies, he said.

Otherwise, they stay on the payroll for another 15 months, payed out bi-weekly.

“Even though they are eligible for the pension, they don’t have to take it right away,” said Arbic.

“Once that lapses at the end of 15 months, then I go to pension.” Maureen Bader, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation, said it’s one sweet deal.

“This severance package is far in excess of anything anyone could get in the private sector,” said Bader.

“Quitters should not be receiving severance.”

“This particular severance package is just too out there, and has got to change.”

Any incumbent MLA who fails to get re-elected will qualify for the allowance.

In 2005, Bader says, 41 MLAs lost their seats, which could cost taxpayers $5.2 million in severance.

Don Smith of Western Compensation and Benefits Consultants in Vancouver, said it’s better than what they’d get in the private sector.

“In the private sector, when someone voluntarily leaves their position, they are not going to get anything,” said Smith.

“The situation with MLA’s is much more attractive than that.”

“If someone decides to step down, the private sector wouldn’t provide them with anything.”

Smith said it’s true that MLA’s need bridging help to get back into their old profession, or take up a new one.

“The termination assistance is appropriate. The question is how much is appropriate.”

Changes to the transition program were passed by the committee that runs the B.C. Legislature, and were not part of Bill 37, which hiked pay and pensions for MLAs.

Under that bill, MLAs got a 29-per-cent pay raise, bringing their base salary on April 1 this year up to $101,859.

The MLAs also got a gold-plated pension plan, estimated to be twice as valuable as the private-sector equivalent.

The defined benefit pension plan kicks in at 65, but can be drawn down as early as 60.

In the case of MLAs like Liberal Katherine Whittred, who are over 65, they have the option of not drawing down their pensions until the 15-month transitional money runs out first.

“I’m looking at how if affects my ongoing financial situation,” said Whittred, who served as an MLA for 13 years, and recently joined the board of Canuck Place.

“I haven’t really resolved this as yet.”

Whittred said the transitional money was recommended to give outgoing MLAs a chance to get their lives back on track.

“This business of being an MLA can be very hard on people in terms of their career paths,” she said.

“This is a very unique job and in many instances, people put their own financial futures at risk.”

“I plan to avail myself of it,” said outgoing Liberal MLA Daniel Jarvis, 73, recovering at home Wednesday after heart bypass surgery.

“I’m not sure if I’m going to try to find another job at the moment.” Jarvis said he was in construction and real estate before entering the B.C. Legislature 18 years ago.

“My income has dropped drastically,” he said.

“A lot of people may feel that it’s very rich,” he said. “But I feel, for what I’ve given up over the last 18 years, it isn’t.”



BC Rail: from Supreme Court, Ottawa

Basi-Virk lawyers to question ties among politicians, bureaucrats, RCMP

The Globe and Mail - print edition p. A8 - April 23, 2009

OTTAWA -- The defence in the BC Rail political corruption trial will centre on accusations the RCMP tainted its case through inappropriate political calculations and sacrificed the facts in an effort to spin the media, according to factums filed in the Supreme Court of Canada.

The defence will also question the personal and political relationships among elected officials, high-level bureaucrats, lobbyists, political-party operatives and RCMP investigators.

The factums provide the latest synopsis of the defence's plans in the long-delayed criminal case against Dave Basi and Bob Virk, two former ministerial aides in the B.C. Liberal government.

The two men are accused of corruption, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering in relation to the 2004 privatization of BC Rail. Aneal Basi, a former government communications officer and Dave Basi's cousin, faces charges of money laundering.
The latest delay is due to a dispute over a secret informant.

Special prosecutor William Berardino is appealing a Supreme Court of British Columbia ruling, upheld by the B.C. Court of Appeal, that might have allowed the lawyer for the defendants to be present during testimony from the informant.

The Supreme Court of Canada heard the arguments yesterday, where Mr. Berardino warned that future informants would be afraid to come forward to police unless the Supreme Court overturns the lower court's ruling.

Dave Basi's lawyers said a fair trial is at stake and that secret hearings have no place in a democracy like Canada. Aneal Basi's lawyers, in their factum, question whether the Crown even has a secret informant.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police intervened in favour of the appeal, pointing out that police informants have faced gruesome retribution in incidents where their identity has been revealed.

The Criminal Lawyers' Association (Ontario) spoke against the appeal, stating that defence lawyers would never violate a court order not to share certain protected information with their client.

The Supreme Court justices said they will issue a decision at a later date.

While the matter before the Supreme Court is narrow, the information contained in the factum from Dave Basi's lawyers offers a broad glimpse of their case.

"The disclosure material is massive and complex, particularly with respect to potential trial issues," it states.

It then goes on to list the potential issues, which include:

"the personal and political interrelationships" among elected officials, bureaucrats, party officials and RCMP investigators;

"the RCMP's deception" in its successful request of a 2003 search warrant for the B.C. Legislature;

"the extent to which some of the RCMP's investigative decisions were based on political and other inappropriate considerations" that may have led to the loss of evidence in the defence's favour;

and "the RCMP's strategy in putting a 'media spin' on their investigative actions which was borne of a high degree of sensitivity to public perception and which bore little relation to the real facts of the case."

The factum does not offer specifics on the defence's concerns regarding the RCMP. However, the factum from Aneal Basi does raise one RCMP relationship.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett is quoted in a June, 2007, ruling related to disclosure, saying that an issue has been raised about Kevin DeBruyckere, a key RCMP investigator in the BC Rail case. The RCMP inspector's brother-in-law is Kelly Reichert, the executive director of the B.C. Liberals.

Judge Bennett also noted in her ruling that: "It is clear that [former finance] Minister [Gary] Collins was under police suspicion in December 2003. Requests were made for briefings to the highest level of the RCMP, yet there is nothing that I have seen in writing that indicates who made the decision to stop pursuing Minister Collins as a suspect and when that decision was made."

Read The Globe and Mail report HERE.

It's "Law Week" in Vancouver:

... This is the purpose of Law Week 2009, a collaborative project of the Canadian Bar Association B.C. Branch, the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, the Law Foundation of British Columbia, the Law Society of British Columbia, the People's Law School and the Vancouver Bar Association.

During the week, now underway, events will be held at various venues throughout British Columbia.

Most major events in Vancouver will be held on Law Day 2009 -- this Saturday, April 25.

The theme of Law Day is Access to Justice: Public Confidence in the Justice System, and will include courthouse tours, mock trials, free law classes on subjects ranging from immigration to wills and estates, and the Dial-A-Lawyer program, which will allow people to speak to a lawyer by phone for up to 15 minutes.

All of those events will help the public to gain a better understanding of the system. But people will also have an opportunity to talk with a panel of senior justice representatives at a free public forum.

The forum, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Vancouver Public Library, will include B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Brenner, B.C. Provincial Court Chief Judge Hugh Stansfield, Vancouver police Supt. Warren Lemcke, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Peter German and Vancouver Sun columnist, editorial board member and lawyer Peter McKnight.

For more information on this and other Law Week events, visit

From Vancouver Sun, April 23, 2009


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Basi Virk: today April 22, 2009 in Ottawa - Supreme Court of Canada hearing.

SCC Case Information

Her Majesty the Queen v. Bobby Singh Virk, et al.

(British Columbia) (Criminal) (By Leave)
(Publication ban in case) (Sealing order)

Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch) for information purposes only.

Criminal law - Trial - Procedure - Whether counsel for the accused may be present at in camera hearing to determine whether informer privilege applies to protect material from disclosure - Jurisdiction of Court of Appeal pursuant to s. 37 of Canada Evidence Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-5 - Whether it is a breach of the court’s duty to protect informer privilege to permit defence counsel to learn the identity of an informant or information that might identify an informant on undertakings not to disclose this information - Whether the first stage of the procedure in Named Person v. Vancouver Sun, 2007 SCC 43, applies such that accused and their counsel are not entitled to attend a hearing to determine a claim of informer privilege where the evidence may or will identify the informer - Whether s. 37 of the Canada Evidence Act provides the court with discretion to override the substantive rule of law barring disclosure of an informant’s identity - Whether the Court of Appeal had jurisdiction to hear the appeal in this matter.

The Respondents are charged with corruption, fraud and breach of trust resulting from alleged misconduct while civil servants. In pre-trial proceedings, they sought disclosure of certain documents and portions of documents. The Crown requested an in camera, ex parte hearing to determine whether the documents are protected by informant’s privilege. The Crown seeks to exclude defence counsel from the hearing. On December 6, 2007, Bennett J. granted a hearing but held that defence counsel should be permitted to attend subject to undertakings and a court order prohibiting disclosure. The Crown objected under s. 37 of the Canada Evidence Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-5. On December 7, 2007, Bennett J. dismissed the s. 37 application. The Crown appealed both decisions. Finch C.J.A. and Donald J.A., for different reasons, dismissed the appeal. Ryan J.A. would have precluded defence counsel from the hearing.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Robin Mathews: An Investigation of Criminal Corruption Among "the Gordon Campbell forces"?

The biggest news in many months concerning the BC Rail Scandal (known publicly by the pre-trial hearings of cabinet aides Basi, Virk, and Basi on charges of fraud and breach of trust) came on April 20, 2009. It came, we are told by an NDP News Release: "from the steps of the BC Law Courts building".

What's the "biggest news in many months"?


Finally, FINALLY, one force among the opposition forces is facing the realities of the corrupt Gordon Campbell administration and moving to show concretely that the gigantic wrong-doings far exceed gimmicky shifts, smart-aleck by-passing of procedure, cover-ups, a Gordon Campbell seraglio, opportunistic secrecy, and little white lies.

The NDP, finally, is tackling the real possibility that what I call "the Gordon Campbell forces" (among which Patrick Kinsella must be counted) may be alleged to have engaged in criminal activity while preparing and completing the sale of BC Rail to CN.

In this case, Leonard Krog alleges that Patrick Kinsella, employed by BC Rail to assist and advise on the sale, was also being paid for related services by CN Rail, purchaser of BC Rail. The matter (under the Criminal Code) "that leads to the heart of Premier Campbell's office" (to quote Mr. Krog) involves a person working, in fact, for government accepting payment from another person or corporation dealing with that government. It deals, too, with the corporation or person dealing with government making payment to the government employee.

The Gordon Campbell forces, of course, may not have been so engaged. But I - among many, many British Columbians - want the present allegation to be pressed, more allegations to be added, and severe, public examinations to proceed by meaningful RCMP investigation and swift (?) court actions.

Leonard Krog cannot be commended enough by British Columbians!

As welcome as this news is - what should be a major break-through in the search for truth about the BC Rail Scandal - there are problems and complications attached.

To begin, the announcement made "from the steps of the BC Law Courts building" was made by NDP Justice Critic Leonard Krog. That's good. But standing on the steps beside him should have been Carol James, NDP leader. And she should have added to his statements that "This is just the beginning. The NDP will not stop." We can only pray that the reason she was not at Krog's side was because the demands of electioneering made it absolutely impossible for her to be there with him. (Even then, we might worry that the WHOLE NDP caucus is not forcibly engaged in the matter.)

The next problem is that Leonard Krog (of necessity) made his request for investigation to Gary Bass, the RCMP's '"top cop" in B.C. - deputy commissioner of the RCMP for the Pacific Region.

Gary Bass is the "top cop" who does nothing. He looked the other way (just for instance) in the fatal and highly suspicious RCMP shooting of Ian Bush in the police station at Houston on October 29, 2005, by RCMP police officer Paul Koester. (Koester has been secretly shifted to another assignment - but only with the full approval of Gary Bass.) Was the shooting a murder? Gary Bass, I say, doesn't want to know.

Gary Bass is the "top cop" who does nothing. He looked the other way in the fatal RCMP tasering at Vancouver International Airport of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski on October 13, 2007. In fact, he was greeted warmly when he met Gordon Campbell who expressed deep sympathy for the RCMP killers of Robert Dziekanski. Gross as that is, Gordon Campbell was not alone.

Not only did national "top cop" of the RCMP, William Elliott telephone a few of the four (who were, most Canadians believe) responsible for Dziekanski's death and express his support for them. He also e-mailed Gary Bass and asked "all our folks in E Division" to be "assured of my ongoing support". He also took the opportunity of a visit to Afghanistan, months later, to ask for the sympathy of Canadians for the men who many believe murdered Robert Dziekanski! In addition, he also announced that the four officers had been "reassigned". But as with Paul Koerster, he told none of us where....

Let's look at all that. William Elliott is a snug, smug political appointment by Stephen Harper who is not over-enthusiastic about Democracy and the Rule of Law, both of which he has repeatedly tested.

Gary Bass was an appointment of discredited, disgraced, and resigned national RCMP "top cop" Guiliano Zaccardelli. Paul Palango, specialist on RCMP shady dealings, calls the Bass appointment part of Zaccardelli's "incestuousness".

Leonard Krog faces a daunting (but necessary and admirable) task. He has to reach through what looks like a tub of corruption to make contact with the Rule of Law and Democratic Responsibility. In short, he has to get past Gordon Campbell's silent, strong relation with Stephen Harper in order to activate William Elliott, RCMP Commissioner. (Leonard Krog sent a copy of his Gary Bass letter to William Elliott, probably knowing Bass doesn't order 'take-out snacks' without an okay from Ottawa). Krog has to activate "do-nothing" Gary Bass to whom Gordon Campbell made loving and inappropriate noises.

Bass has shown to this observer that his loyalties are not to the Rule of Law but to "the gang" and to political power,

Krog also has to get by Wally Oppal - probably the most sleazily political Attorney General in British Columbia's history. Think of it. Krog has to move the consciences of William Elliott, Gary Bass, Wally Oppal, and the men of E Division (British Columbia's RCMP force).

If he sticks to his guns, he can reach through the tub of corruption, lean and lean on Bass and not take No for an answer. He can do it; he and the rest of the NDP can do it. They have to do it for British Columbians, for the Rule of Law, for our democratic society.

Leonard Krog must be commended by all for taking on the task.



HELP WANTED: Must find 8,000 missing BC Rail Trial documents!

I am working on an editorial about Lara Dauphinee.

I need to find the letter allegedly recommending the hiring in 2001 of Bobby Singh Virk as the aide to the Minister of Transportation in the newly-elected B.C. Liberal government.

It has been seen among the 8,000 pages of documents obtained by the Bobby Virk, Basi, and Basi defence team in the BC Rail Corruption Trial.

These 8,000 pages were also obtained at great effort by B.C.'s Loyal Opposition who used their own resources to sort, organize, scan, and post this information on-line where the public could see them.

So last evening, expecting to obtain quick access to that resource, I typed the following URL into a search engine:

and this is the message I got:

Site off-line

This site is unavailable until the conclusion of the provincial general election May 12. Thank you for visiting.

Can anybody explain this act of insanity?

Can anybody help me find that letter recommending that Bobby Virk be hired? And addressed to the premier's Chief of Staff, Martyn Brown? It was allegedly signed by Gordon Campbell and Lara Dauphinee, about whom, more later. - BC Mary


BC Rail time bomb still ticking

A BC Rail time bomb is still ticking for B.C. taxpayers
Campbell Liberals left us on the hook for half a billion

By Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun - April 21, 2009

More than five years after Premier Gordon Campbell announced "$1 billion in cash" for the Canadian National takeover of BC Rail, the province is still on the hook for a potential payback to CN of half a billion dollars.

The obligation, regarded as purely hypothetical by the B.C. Liberals, though no less legally binding for all that, is recorded in the fine print of the provincial government books. It was $505 million in 2008, the last year for which the accounts have been made public.

The dollars relate to one of the controversial aspects of a controversial deal, namely the decision to put the accumulated losses of the BCR on the auction block along with the freight business, rolling stock and other assets of the government-owned railway.

The Liberals famously promised not to sell or privatize any part of BCR. Then they did.

Source: Blair Lekstrom, now a Liberal cabinet minister. "Did we break that promise?" he asked on the eve of the last provincial election. "Yes, we did, plain and simple."

Once the Liberal promise-breakers got into the swing of the selling game, they became quite creative, particularly in the way they made use of the railway's estimated $2 billion worth of accumulated losses over the years.

The losses didn't have any value so long as the railway was publicly owned and thus not obliged to pay taxes. But the Liberals realized that if the business were acquired by a private operator, the losses could be mobilized as write offs against corporate and other taxes, and over a number of years.

Only CN, among four initial contenders for the BCR, was prepared to bid on the value of the losses and did so "aggressively."

The giant railway, with operations across the continent, figured it could realize savings of about a quarter of a billion dollars in taxes paid to the federal government as well as several Canadian provinces.

"We're quite good at pushing out the envelope," as the CN chief financial officer Claude Mongeau put it in a conference call to investors after the deal was announced.

But Mongeau and his colleagues were nobody's fools. In case the tax collectors didn't go for their envelope-pushing interpretation, they insisted that the province indemnify their company for every penny of the anticipated reductions in corporate and other taxes.

The Liberals, desperately wanting to make the deal look as rich as possible and confident that there was little risk in making the indemnity, agreed.

When the deal was announced in November 2003, it saw CN pay $750 million to "buy the business" (as CEO Hunter Harrison put it) and another $250 million for the putative value of tax credits.

In return, the province supplied the indemnity, pegged to the "maximum present value" of the credits in the year in which they could be claimed, plus a hefty annual escalator clause, lately reckoned at nine per cent.

The indemnity has grown dramatically since it was first recorded on the provincial books after the deal closed in July 2004. From $367 million for the 2005-05 financial year to $505 million for the year ended Mar. 31 2008.

"These indemnities remain in effect until 90 days after the last date on which a tax assessment or reassessment can be issued in respect of the income tax attributes," according to the statement on page 71 of the most recent edition of the public accounts.

The Liberals have not said when that is likely to occur. But I'm advised that the tax question was not settled in the financial year just concluded. So the indemnity will again be there in the public accounts when the books are made public in June of this year -- alas, after the election.

Another nine per cent atop last year's figure would boost the indemnity to about $550 million, more than half the value of Campbell's original such-a-deal for the railway, albeit in today's dollars.

Not to worry, say the Liberals. "Management believes it is unlikely that the province or BCR will ultimately be held liable for any amounts under the tax indemnities."

Management being what is left of the executive suite at BC Rail following the sale of most of its assets. A well-paid bunch, according to a couple of columns by my colleague Les Leyne published in the Victoria Times Colonist last summer.

He noted how the once-proud railway has been reduced to about 40 kilometres of track serving the Roberts Bank superport, an underperforming real estate portfolio, and fewer than three dozen full-time employees.

Nevertheless, the CEO was paid $570,000 last year, and Leyne was able to cite a trio of other executives in the $300,000 range.

{Snip} ...

Read the full column HERE.

Reviving the once-mighty railroad
BBC review of North American railroading, starting with Vancouver-Seattle.


Monday, April 20, 2009


BC Rail corruption scandal: RCMP asked for criminal investigation into Patrick Kinsella and CN



April 20, 2009

Dear Deputy Commissioner Bass,

I write to seek an investigation into the activities of Mr. Patrick Kinsella and CN Rail regarding Mr. Kinsella’s employment contracts with British Columbia Rail and CN Rail.

According to documents released in court and available from BC Rail, as well as media reports about the issue, it appears there is evidence of at least two breaches of the Criminal Code of Canada relating to these contracts and the sale of BC Rail.

As you may be aware, the BC New Democrat Caucus recently learned that Mr. Patrick Kinsella was contracted by BC Rail to assist the government in the sale of BC Rail. Mr. Kinsella’s payments covered the years 2002-2005.

BC Rail documents referenced in the Basi/Virk court proceedings confirm that Mr. Kinsella was hired to work on the BC Rail deal. A transcription of an email between Kevin Mahoney, Vice President of BC Rail and the BC Rail accounting department describes Mr. Kinsella’s work. Mr. Mahoney confirms that the contractual payments to Mr. Kinsella are for “backroom work” on the “Path”. As you know from the RCMP investigation, the “Path” is the government code name for the BC Rail deal.

Additional documents referenced in court strongly suggest that through this period Mr. Kinsella was also under contract with CN Rail, representing their interests with government. Reference was made in court to meetings arranged by Mr. Kinsella involving the Premier and David McLean, the chairman of CN Rail.

More importantly an e-mail exchange between Mr. Mahoney and Mr. Chris Trumpy, the lead deputy minister for the government on the sale, describes Mr. Kinsella working on behalf of CN Rail. The e-mail says “Patrick Kinsella received a call from David McLean who in essence told him the deal was at risk anything they could do would be appreciated and in CN’s view needed now. Kinsella talking to Martyn for immediate support.” In media reports CN has refused to deny Mr. Kinsella was under contract.

Section 121 (1) (b) states it is an offence if anyone who “having dealings of any kind with the government, directly or indirectly pays a commission or reward to or confers an advantage or benefit of any kind on an employee or official of the government with which the dealings take place… unless the person has the consent in writing of the head of the branch of government with which the dealings take place”;

Likewise, Section 121 (1) (c) is also relevant. It states that anyone commits an offence who “being an official or employee of the government, directly or indirectly… agrees to accept from a person who has dealings with the government a commission, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind… unless they have the consent in writing of the head of the branch of government that employs them.”

From the evidence before the court and in the media reports regarding this matter it appears that Mr. Kinsella and CN may have breached Sections 121 (1) (b) & (c).

As noted above, Mr. Kinsella in his work on behalf of CN sought the intervention of the Premier’s office to save the CN bid in the spring of 2004. At issue at the time was the valuation of a tax advantage related to the agreement as well as a related issue regarding the term of the contract.

It is obvious that the public interest may be different than the private interest at stake in the resolution of a matter like this. Section 121 (1)(C) and (B) are meant to ensure such conflicts do not impact key public decisions, such as the privatization of a significant public enterprise like BC Rail.

For these reasons I request an immediate investigation into the activities of Mr. Kinsella and CN Rail in these matters.


Leonard Krog

Nanaimo, MLA

C.C. William Elliot, Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Robert Gillen, Assistant Deputy Minister, Criminal Justice Branch


Saturday, April 18, 2009


BC Rail case shows why lobbying rules must be tougher: says The Globe and Mail's Gary Mason

Gary Mason
Globe and Mail - April 18, 2009

Of all of the promises that have been made in the early stages of B.C.'s election campaign, none may be as important as the New Democratic Party's pledge to toughen the province's lobbyist legislation.

If nothing else, the scandal around the sale of BC Rail five years ago has illustrated just how woefully inadequate is the current legislation governing the activities of lobbyists in British Columbia.

Friends of government, friends of the Premier, people who have played pivotal behind-the-scenes roles with the governing Liberal party can do all manner of lobbyist-like work and not have to tell a soul.

{Snip} ...

In B.C., the public hasn't a hope of knowing whether decisions by elected officials are being made in an atmosphere free of any apparent conflict of interest. In fact, under the Liberals the business of government is conducted amid some of the lowest standards of conduct and ethics anywhere in the country.

This appears to be one area where the policy difference between the Liberals and the NDP couldn't be clearer. That could be something to consider come election day.

Tip o'the tuque to The Globe and Mail and to Gary Mason. It's good to see their new interest, more and better press coverage in British Columbia. Smart move, if you ask me. - BC Mary.



About that Public Affairs Bureau ... this premier has the largest political communications staff in B.C. history

It's important in B.C. to recognize the significance of the semi-secret Public Affairs Bureau during the BC Rail Case because, in my view, it has an effect upon what's published and what is not published, what's done and not done. The effect is ongoing, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at taxpayers' expense. Here's one example. - BC Mary.

Click HERE to see the Hansard record for October 6, 2003 P.M.

J. Kwan: The Premier knows well the good people at National Public Relations. Perhaps he even recalls Randy Wood's kind words in his defence last January — speaking as a crisis management expert, of course.

The Premier's office paid National Public Relations a total of $37,000 in taxpayers' money last year alone. Given that this Premier has the largest political communications staff in B.C. history working for him already, what possible extra value could National Public Relations provide that was worth $37,000?

Hon. G. Campbell: I'd have to get the information on the specific contractual arrangements for the member, but let me just remind the member that, in fact, this government is spending substantially less than the government that she was part of spent on communications. It is important, unquestionably, that we do communicate with the people of British Columbia, and we are doing that. But today, Mr. Speaker, as you will know from the budget documents — and the member opposite should as well — we're effectively paying $6 million less than the previous government was in 1992.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Vancouver–Mount Pleasant has a supplementary question.


J. Kwan: The boss at National Public Relations, B.C. office, is Marcia Smith. On September 4, 2002, Marcia Smith registered as a lobbyist for an oil and mining industry association, the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions. These guys don't like Kyoto, but they sure like oil and coal. It was Marcia Smith's job to lobby government on their behalf as the government was putting its energy plan together. She really must be convincing — good enough that only five days later, the Minister of Energy and Mines hired her to work on this government's energy plan.

Can the Minister of Energy tell us why he was paying Marcia Smith to help develop his energy plan when she was also being paid by big oil to lobby on the very same energy plan?

Hon. J. Neufelt: The member over there is picking at straws, trying to find anything wrong that she can. Unfortunately, they have not been able to, other than trying to mislead people in some instances. We have a very good energy plan in the province, one that's designed to take British Columbia well into the future, and we are looking forward to actually going along with that energy plan well into the future.

J. MacPhail: Well, the minister is playing dumb. That's what my notes here say, but I actually don't think he's playing. I actually think he may be dumb on this one. It's an outright conflict — it's an outright conflict — for the minister to pay Marcia Smith to help him with his energy plan when she's already on the payroll of big oil and mining companies to lobby him on the same plan. But there's more, Mr. Speaker — new information. Two of National Public Relations top lobbyists, Michael Goehring and Randy Wood, are also registered lobbyist[s] for Accenture — National Public Relations employees lobbying for Accenture, the same folks who benefited from this government's privatization of B.C. Hydro. These two gentlemen report to Marcia Smith. So while the government is busy negotiating a deal with Accenture and drafting the final energy policy, which included the Accenture deal, Marcia Smith is also lobbying for Accenture. She's also lobbying for big oil, and at the same time she's being paid by this minister to advise him about the Liberal energy plan. Can the minister stand up now and tell us how this is not a conflict?

Hon. R. Neufeld: Well, as normal, the opposition is trying to dig under every straw and everything to see what they can find that is wrong. Now they talk about Accenture. Isn't it interesting? The deal B.C. Hydro has with Accenture will save ratepayers $250 million over ten years. Is that a bad deal? I think that's a good deal for British Columbia. It's also a business that's centred in Vancouver, that pays taxes in the province of British Columbia, hires…. Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The minister has the floor.


Hon. R. Neufeld: It's my turn. I listened to you. Accenture will set up a business in the province of British Columbia. It will employ British Columbians. It will pay taxes in British Columbia. It will help keep the rates low for ratepayers of B.C. Hydro in the province. I can't imagine anything that's better for British Columbians than that, and that's a key part of our energy plan. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker: Leader of the Opposition has a supplementary question.

J. MacPhail: Well, I hope all those public affairs bureau employees are scurrying around right now to help the minister out of this little trap. If the minister….


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

J. MacPhail: Although, actually, the minister isn't confident that no conflict occurred, because he didn't answer the question. Let me ask the minister this: will he agree today to release to the public all of the documents that Ms. Marcia Smith was involved with under this contract, and will he ask the Attorney General to do a full investigation into how and why the government is paying oil and mining lobbyists, industry lobbyists, to help develop his energy plan? And if he won't, what's he got to hide?

Public Affairs Bureau with 223 fulltime government employees, a budget of $28 million a year (some say $31 million a year), and is bigger than any newsroom in Canada.

No newsroom anywhere covers a legislature with the same intensity as B.C.'s Public Affairs Bureau. We should ask a few questions.

Is it legal to use taxpayers' money for propaganda purposes? Is it legal for paid government employees to work in an election campaign? Is it legal and ethical to knowingly participate in the electoral process on behalf of government, but not the Opposition? Who decides on the policies which Public Affairs Bureau advocates? Who trains the new PAB "Officers" in their duties and how long does that take?

Perhaps values are reflected in paycheques. shown here, courtesy of Sean Holman at Public Eye Online:

Salary ranges for major unionized print media reporters:

The Canadian Press ($44,752.24 - $72,127.12)
The Times Colonist ($51,653.68 - $77,936.04)
The Globe and Mail ($47.110.96 - $84,199.44)
The Province, The Vancouver Sun ($53,998.36 - $86,140.08)

Salary ranges for public affairs bureau staff:

Public Affairs Officer ($47,278.25 - $79,847.87)
Communications Manager ($68,290.83 - $93,505.88)
Communications Director ($78,797.25 - $110,315.74)