Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Robin Mathews: An Ordinary British Columbian and The BC Rail Scandal


What does an ordinary British Columbian do "reporting" at the Basi,Virk, and Basi pre-trial hearings that the conventional press and media don't do? What is the ordinary British Columbian's role there?

I've asked myself that more than once. And I suspect there are readers who sometimes say, "Why does he focus on that, or those things?"

Let me explain how a "role" has shaped over the months and years.

I took it for granted at first that a person doesn't talk to lawyers for either side, but does a clean reporting job uncontaminated by the "bias" of either Crown or Defence.

But that was wrong.

It was wrong because counsel are chief actors, have loads of information (which they sometimes impart), and in the 'outside court' pauses are willing to put arguments in summary form for those who inquire. Except with a person like George Copley (lawyer for the Executive Council/premier and cabinet) who somehow thinks he is above discussion with (I mean it) representatives of the larger population, most will devote a serious few minutes to discussion. They often smile when being crowded to a position and are too smart to be trapped into the statement or admission someone wants to wring from them.

They are also valuable because of the complete collapse of "open court procedures" in B.C.'s Supreme Court system. I will return to that point - as a major one.

Who are the people in the courtroom?

To begin, they are the lawyers for the Crown, the lawyers for the Defence. They represent and work for their clients, first. The Great Theory is that they work for their clients, clinging to all the hallowed procedures, ethics, and ideals of our Majestic System - and by so doing they serve JUSTICE. Would that were true.

I would say (as an ordinary British Columbian reporting from courtroom 43) something, for instance, about Mr. George Copley's delivery of two affidavits with information that the government of B.C. permitted the disappearance of apparently absolutely crucial (2001-2005) evidentiary material connected to the accusations against Basi, Virk, and Basi.

I would say that the actions of Mr. Copley and those he represents must be suspected as opportunistic, dishonourable, and sleazy moves in a set of power plays that are intended to defeat justice in the province of B.C. (I said the actions "must be suspected as"....)

(Conventional journalists, incidentally, are very, very unlikely to make such a comment.)

The lawyers present also operate under the huge burden of the judge: his or her personality, political prejudices, ambitions, and moods - quite apart from the judge's real role of "judging" relevant material, relevant argument, relevant and reasonable objections...and more.

The legal "fraternity' is a close community. The ordinary Canadian sits in court, is distressed at the judge, and reports distress to the readers. Lawyers in the court are not so free. They may score against a judge today - but they may have to come before that judge (who wants revenge) over and over and over. And so lawyer willingness to call a judge into question is altogether too limited. Justice and the larger population lose.

But, you say, the press and media balance that. Sorry, they don't. If journalists work for a reactionary media chain like CanWest, the chances may be that owner-interest is to back corrupt administrations, corporations ... and courts. And, of course, reactionary media chains tend to employ reactionary writers and others. Just look at Maclean's Magazine which has become - to my mind - the sewer outlet for the flashiest, emptiest, Right-Wing drivel, since its re-birth on the Right.

There is also, here, a little of the lawyer problem. Members of the press and media want access, when necessary, to many, many things that need a judge's approval to free up those things. Naturally, journalists don't want to create blocage. And so, for instance, in the Basi/Virk/Basi pre-trial hearings, the only person to criticize the behaviour of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett has been ... me.

This is a truly delicate matter. I do not want, for a second, to misrepresent the behaviour of the presiding judge. But I believe any request that I might make for information on the public record would meet more difficulty than the same request from a 'compliant' journalist. I may be wrong. But the ravaging of "open court" proceedings has been so huge in B.C. it is hard to know exactly.

I have written again and again that the Patrick Dohm "secrecy" rules, called "practice directions" put in place by Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm - to prevent the public from having information in criminal trials - are oppressive. In a trial dealing with huge allegations of public corruption, possibly travelling all the way into the heart of the legislature and the cabinet, every effort should be made to make certain the population is as fully informed as possible. It is a matter of importance to every British Columbian, and "the court" should make every effort to supply information for that public. I would say that in the Basi/Virk/and Basi case the opposite has been true.

I believe that fact to be so obvious that a reasonable British Columbian might ask if "the court" (the judges involved) are not biased towards serving the interests of the Gordon Campbell power group.

In such a case - the Basi/Virk/and Basi case - NOTHING (I allege) has been done to show responsibility to the British Columbia population in the matter. I have lambasted both Patrick Dohm and Elizabeth Bennett on that matter. I AM THE ONLY ONE who has. I know that most people in the gallery, in this matter, believe the censorship, refusal to make documents public, and the lack of daily available print (or electronic) transcriptions of procedure are burdens that they should not, in a 'free society' have to carry.

I have seen no other observer in the gallery make that idea public.

I've answered the question I asked already.

No one, it seems, but an ordinary British Columbian as reporter is willing to pull at the powdered wigs of the judges to see if there is anything underneath. No one but that kind of reporter is willing to call into question the work and role of lawyers in the court. I have asked more than once if Special Crown Prosecutors undergo any kind of review to make sure they are not 'patsy' appointees of a government wanting (undisclosed) allies in court. I base the question, openly, on the appointment as Special Crown Prosecutor of William Berardino. I have asked that question in a letter to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett - who would not reply to my letter.

No one, it seems, but an ordinary British Columbian as reporter is willing to draw in tight and to ask searching questions about the relations of the press, lawyers, the court, members of government, and corporate/government policy.

To illustrate that point, I'll conclude with an observation. Mr. George Copley entered court with two affidavits from government employees upon which he based his statement that materials that might well be absolutely key in the defence of the accused in the Basi/Virk/and Basi trial - four years of them at least - have "disappeared". The Defence lawyers were "shocked", to put the matter mildly.

Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett sat imperturbable, and said something trivial - if I remember correctly - like 'you can't know the relevance without seeing the documents'. I do not wish to report her incorrectly, but I believe a judge should have been astonished. I believe (with respect) she should have said right there and then: "I want the two writers of those affidavits in this court as soon as possible. I want them to state in this court, and on the record, how this happened and if there is any remedy available. Are there back-up records somewhere? In a number of places? Anywhere? Because", I believe she should have said, "the destruction of what may be relevant evidence is a most serious matter, and I - as judge on these pre-trial hearings - want everything possible about this extraordinary matter on the record as answers to MY questions as well as to those of the Defence counsel."

And I think she should have gone on to say the matter was not one simply for the Defence but a matter that makes a large impact upon the overall conduct of justice in Canada and she, herself, as judge, must be concerned with that fact and must take a major role in bringing the matter to close, public examination.

She did not say any of those things. It would be unfair (except metaphorically) to say that, instead, she yawned. I was surprised at her failure of reaction. I report that here. It seems that only an ordinary British Columbian acting as reporter in courtroom 43 has such reactions - and is willing to report them. Maybe, then, an ordinary British Columbian shouldn't be allowed to report?

Maybe Morley Safer was right when he said he would trust citizen reporters about as much as he would trust a citizen surgeon. Maybe he was right. But he might not be....


Elizabeth Bennett on numerous occasions in my opinion has not exercised her authority to direct the special prosecutor to produce evidence.If she had done her job earlier on maybe the e-mails that are being sought now would have been already produced. It seems to me that all of the delay in this case has just given the liberals the time needed to destroy or delay the presentation of evidence.

The work being done by Robin is of the utmost importance. I commend his efforts.JW
why is it that only now has the idea of asking for emails that may (or may not) have anything to do with Basi/Virk been raised? If there was crucial evidence contained in emails, why did it take the Defence until now to raise it?

Next they will say that evidence may have existed on the desk of an office within the Twin Towers, which has been destroyed through no fault of Basi/Virk?

I just dont buy this latest defence tactic and am surprised the NDP would give it any credence.
Anon 5:37 PM

I'll tell you why they are just getting around to asking for the e-mails now. The lawyers for the defense have had to fight tooth and nail for every piece of information the have received. They have had to piece together a defense for their clients one step at a time. Every time they think they have "got it" a piece of evidence leads to something else.Then they have to fight some more to get what they need.

You have a right not to "buy" this tactic but any lawyer worth his salt will try to do the best he can for his client. As far as the NDP giving it credence, who else will. Gordon Campbell and his liberals? Fool! They are the ones who are putting up the road blocks and I allege are breaking the law in doing it.
Gee. now what was I saying that the PAB types will try and point the finger at the NDP over this?

I guess this is what is meant by transparency in government. Transparency of motive, that is....
Gary E, but "what if" the defence has only clued in now only becuase it creates yet another angle od doubt where one does not and should not exist?

If there was a specific email, which one? What specific dates? And why cant Basi use his day planner or diary to estimate when he thinks he received an important or telling reponse?

To speculate that there may be email discussions that Basi was not privy to is fishing at best and absurd at the worst.

Methinks the defence have found themselves in a hole with nowhere else to go. So this is all they got.

I do beleive Collins may have winked at Basi while be went about creating the illusion of a bidding war, I doubt any elected offcial said it was okay for Basi to take inducements from Omnitrax, so long as laundered through another employees' bank account, and I do not beleive they said he could or should accept inducements from the colwood developers, or set up a grow-op in Shawnigan, or launder coke profits for his cousin, or .... .

But now, late in the game, emails have been deleted, for reasons not fully understood, could be nepharious or could be as innocuous as to clear the way for newer software programs, new hardware leases. You cry foul without a shred of evidence there ever were any emails of relevence to the defence whatsoever, ie that would indicate that all of this was all the provincial bosses fault. I think that is over reacting to say the least.

I dont buy ths defences strategy at all and think this is another example of how lawyers and judges and politicians are joined at the hip and why our judicial system more often than not cannot deliver justice.

There. nuf said.
Uh huh. Didn't some smart poster say the case was only opened because the fact that 2 police forces were involved, made coverup diffictult? Then they say that Stonewally would engineer a "Carosela" sandbag?

Well, lost evidence could be exculpatory, thus the case cannot be pleaded fairly.

Until the Canwest fog is lifted over the people of BC, they will not understand that injustice reigns in this province. Officers of the court act as if they are above the law, because they are not bound by that law. Murder is legal in this province. Killer cops have absolute impunity. Government officials - except for Judge Ramsey - are NEVER jailed in this province. The Campbell government is prepared to waste millions of tax dollars on Special Prosecutor's fees (concealed) and a court process that they knew would be sandbagged, with WE THE PEOPLE paying ALL B-V-B attorney fees.

Do you think Mike Smyth and Ian Mulgrew didn't have a hidden agenda when they made broad attacks from several quarters to the NDP's "attack" (read: scrutiny) ads in the recent election. Canwest loves the status quo, with manufactured hero cops, generous government ads in Canwest papers.

Punchline: Canwest didn't try to match the Globe and Mail's price increast, because they feared the public reaction would make it easier for those who hold $4,000,000,000 in credit over those monsters, to put them in an asset sell-off situation. When they are bankrupt, JUSTICE stock will rise 80% in this province.
Anon 5:37 rebuttal

This answer to my post has just PROVED beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are a spin doctor troll in the PAB. How much do they actually pay you to post these spins on websites that are trying to get to the truth. Do you get paid as a troll, by the hit?
You are obviously not following this case nor are you posting sense. "What if" isn't even in the god damn equation. They have been requesting these e-mails since what? last October. And have been stalled at every turn.
They are asking for every e-mail from some 13 people in government including that Pasty faced liar that runs the show.
And you can bet your ass that Campbell and Collins are up to this in theirs.
If you want to theorize now that the evidence has admittedly been destroyed, think about this.
1. Campbell wants this to go away.
2. How does he do it? He destroys evidence that he knows will eventually make it to court and crucify him.
3. Now the defense calls for a dismissal taking Gordo out of an equation that would cost him and his lackies (like you) their precious jobs.
Further discussion from Fools like you,fool, are fruitless because you have been caught.
you said that WE THE PEOPLE are paying all B V B'd attorney fees. But what about the Troubles Basi faces that are not part of his work with the Prov Govt?

Are WE paying the lawyer fees for Basi's Shawnigan Grow-Op bust?

Are WE paying the lawyer fees for Basi's help in "saying he could" remove land from the ALR for the Sunriver Estates housing project in Sooke in exchange for a payment of $50,000.

Are WE paying the lawyer fees for Basi's participation in his cousin Bains coke business?

I get the whole Rail BC connection, but please tell me WE havent paid, either directly or indirectly, for these TRoubles too?
To Anonymous 9:56...

The FACT is, whether or not said emails could or would have been used in court, to prove or disprove the matter of innocence or guilt of Basi and Virk - those emails were to be kept for 7 (SEVEN) years!! Quite simply your hero broke the law! That he was not "called" on it immediately gives me reason to doubt that this trial was ever meant to be any thing more than mere window dressing for public consumption.

Second FACT: Those emails are the property of the People of BC, they are a part of Public Record and not the property of those who wrote them. It would be safe to assume that in future all transactions relating to further giveaways by your hero will be transacted by phone and in back rooms. Wait, that's already the case.

If you can't clearly see obstruction of justice, interference, and delay tactics in play here you're being willfully blind - which means you're more to be pitied than laughed at. If you're not willing to see what's in front of your nose, and work to correct an obvious wrong, you need to take your trollish ass back to your couch...and don't forget your government issued koolaid.
another example of non-news trumping what's really important - on CBC Radio news here in Halifax, the only news item about BC in the last day or so has been the denial of the Pickton appeal....which was another case that got way more press copy than needed, but sure helped sell papers....not that there's been ANYTHING out here to do with Basi-Virk....
Well said, Leah...and right to the point.
I acknowlege that the emails probably should not have been deleted before the expiration of the retention period, but other than speculation, what evidence is there that indicates that these unnamed emails were relevant?

I would suspect it very unusual for a government to keep computers for more than 3-5 yrs, because of lease renewals, obsolescence, malfunction/death.

Any new computer would have a new hard drive, and emails not copied over would be lost to the eddies of time, forever.

Of course some emails may have gone to home 'puters, or 3rd party computers that may still exist.

I am unaware of any software that would help you to recover deleted emails when you can't access the place where the deleted emails were stored.

Even the FBI can only retrieve something so long as where it was stored still exists.


I am amazed how hostile some posters are on this site. Sheesh!
Yeah, right, JMO ...

we're hostile.

Hahahahaha ...

OT but

"Just look at Maclean's Magazine which has become - to my mind - the sewer outlet for the flashiest, emptiest, Right-Wing drivel, since its re-birth on the Right.

That's exactly what I've been thinking but unable to articulate so clearly!
Post a Comment

<< Home