Monday, June 08, 2009

 

Oh dear ... BC Rail needs openness

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Editorial

When police raided legislature offices more than five years ago, Premier Gordon Campbell promised complete co-operation.

"I've told everyone to be as open and transparent as they can about the entire situation," he said from Maui. The government would co-operate fully as the process unfolded.

Campbell apparently needs to remind some party members of the commitment. The B.C. Rail corruption case continued its halting progress through B.C. Supreme Court last week.

Defence lawyers for Dave Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi have been seeking e-mails from 17 current and former Liberal MLAs, including Campbell, that they believe might be relevant to the case. The indication from the lawyer representing the Liberal caucus was that all or some would fight disclosure.

It might be there is an argument around whether the documents are privileged. If so, the government can waive that without prejudice and provide the required evidence without setting a precedent.

This is a major criminal case that has cast a cloud over government and the three accused and consumed millions of taxpayers' dollars. More delays are not in the public interest.

Campbell promised complete openness. He should ensure all members of the government comply.

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It's remarkable that the Victoria Times Colonist should be commenting, ever so mildly, at this late date, on the Campbell government's failure in the Basi Virk (BC Rail) trial.

Three (3) years ago, on June 5, 2006, the trial of Basi, Virk, Basi was actually scheduled to begin.

A recent Bill Tieleman report mentions that the Basi Virk lawyers (defence and prosecution) have booked off all other work between September 2009 and January 2010. Mind you, we don't really know ... but this strongly suggests that the most important trial in B.C.'s history may take place during that time.

At this critical point, the classic diversionary tactic is to remove ... as in promote ... the judge. If that happens to Madam Justice Bennett in the Basi Virk case, the public will have one more reason to doubt the integrity of both the government and the judiciary in British Columbia.

Noted in passing: a guy named Saddam Hussein was charged, captured, put on trial, found guilty, hung, and forgotten in less time than it has taken to bring the Basi Virk / BC Rail Case to court. - BC Mary.

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