Monday, July 13, 2009

 

BC Rail - Great fortunes, Great crimes

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By Peter Ewart

Opinion 250 - June 24, 2009

Honore de Balzac, the celebrated 19th Century French novelist, once wrote that “behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” What great crimes lie behind the political and economic fortunes of those involved in the BC Rail scandal?

Certainly, there are enough charges, allegations and suspicion swirling around. In 2006, the RCMP raided the provincial legislature seizing documents related to the sale of the railway and possible corruption of government officials. Three government aides were subsequently charged with breach of trust, money laundering and other offences.
At the time of that unprecedented raid, the spokesperson for the RCMP in British Columbia made the stunning statement that organized crime had “stretched into every corner of B.C.,” including presumably into the very corridors of the Provincial Legislature and government. This statement has been disputed by both prosecutors and lawyers for the defence, but has still not been retracted.

While the pre-trial proceedings of the three government aides have dragged on for the last several years, the people of BC have been witness to details of a complicated, and often bizarre, series of events that appear to have taken place around the sale of railway, involving Liberal Party insiders, political consultants, police informers, cabinet ministers and other actors.

The latest episode, which defies belief, has been the revelation that the provincial government has deliberately destroyed back up tapes containing emails from MLAs, cabinet ministers, and the Premier himself, for the period 2001 to 2005. This appears to be contrary to the provincial government’s own policies on preserving documents, especially those that are relevant to a criminal investigation.
In any case, it is well-known to just about everyone in British Columbia that the RCMP, prosecutors, and especially lawyers for the defendants, have had a keen interest in documents and correspondence from the 2001-2005 period, because that is precisely when the alleged bribery and influence peddling by top officials took place. If the trial ever gets to court, a key argument of the three defendants could rest on evidence that, in their activities, they were only following orders from cabinet ministers and the Premier. Thus the importance of the email correspondence.

Vancouver-based journalist Bill Tieleman has equated the incident to that of U.S. President Richard Nixon’s secretary “accidentally” erasing tapes during the Watergate scandal that gripped the White House back in the 1970s, and which resulted in Nixon leaving office.
Like Nixon’s secretary, the provincial government officials who erased the email tapes also need to be brought into court under oath to testify why they did what they did and who gave the orders.

In addition, more than ever, we need a public inquiry into this sordid scandal that has become a blight upon the politics of the province and has brought the entire political process into disrepute.

Peter Ewart is a writer and college instructor based in Prince George, BC. He can be reached at peter.ewart@shaw.ca


Reprinted by permission. In fact, Peter said: "Good to hear from you. Feel free to post the article. You are doing excellent work with your blog and I think a lot of people appreciate it." Nice to know. - M.

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Comments:
"Like Nixon’s secretary, the provincial government officials who erased the email tapes also need to be brought into court under oath to testify why they did what they did and who gave the orders.

In addition, more than ever, we need a public inquiry into this sordid scandal that has become a blight upon the politics of the province and has brought the entire political process into disrepute."

I couldn't agree more, Peter; democracy demands it. The 15th of July is upon us, and people must act now to contact their MLAs, the Premier etc. to stop the transfer of lands to CN. But beyond that, perhaps it is time to arrange a fall letter-writing, twittering and emailing campaign from all of the student associations at all of the BC colleges and universities. Perhaps you could get people involved at your college.
 
I would suspect the non performance clause would be at the discresion of the vendor. So if they are still okay with the deal, then it goes through.

How come Carol James is so ineffective in getting copy of this agreement under scrutiny? Lemme guess, she either doesnt understand it, or is too busy chasing her own tail. Either way, we are stuck with Gordon Campbell until the NDP gets rid of James or a new party emerges with some vision and savy, something the NDP has none of. Posting the 8,000 Rail BC documents on their web site was the same as saying, Look what we got! Can anyone tell us? Please, becuase we are sure something is in here, we just dont have the intellect to figure out what!
 
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You're so right, 8:55 ... remember how Joy MacPhail would be so aware of the BC Rail file, for example, she was able to stand her ground and push, push, push the premier or his cabinet ministers.

Too right, I don't see where this Opposition has even worked up a sweat so far.
 
With all due respect for Joy MacPhail, why didn't she get the 8 000 documents released. Sure a lot has to be done but to blame this injustice on the NDP is inane. The BC liberals lied to us and they continue to do so. To say that this wasn't an issue in the last election, remember the question from James to Campbell to the effect that what would you do differently now that you see how the BC Rail sale has gone? No answer from Campbell and there has been no answer from the BC Libs for years. And no attempt by the MSM to get answers as well. And no reporting of the issue by the MSM during the election on the BC Rail sale.
If you want to blame someone, blame them or Campbell.
 
10:54,

Joy MacPhail had completed her term in the Legislature in 2005,

so she wasn't there when the pre-trial hearings for Basi, Virk, and Basi finally got under way.

Also: the 8,000 documents were released to the Defence lawyers -- not to the NDP -- and it was AFTER the Defence lawyers were given access to those papers, that Leonard Krog stepped up (in a very smart move) and asked for the same privilege ... and got it. So, you see, when they try, things sometimes happen.

Krog's office then set to work and organized the 8,000 pages for easy handling

and went another step farther by holding an Open House in Vancouver so that newspaper reporters and others could come and see the documents and even make copies. This was an altogether civilized, helpful performance. Krog went farther, and put the 8,000 pages online where they can still be seen ... only, for some reason, they were blocked during the May 12 election.

But otherwise, over the long haul, the NDP Opposition has been slow, evasive, and indifferent.

In my view, they should certainly have made it their business to obtain a full copy of the final BCRail-CN agreement (without black-out sections) before today; but they didn't.

The NDP Opposition could've studied that agreement, taking the initiative to find remedies. But no. Instead, they stonewalled. Didn't even respond to our letters until it was too late. We shouldn't forget that.
 
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