Thursday, January 07, 2010


Basi Virk: Robin Mathews to Attorney General: the administration of justice in the province is not fair, impartial, effective, and respectful and is almost openly contemptuous of “the whole community”

                                           XXX Salsbury Drive,
                                                                             Vancouver, BC, XXX XXX
January 7, 2010.

The Honourable Michael de Jong,
Attorney General of British Columbia,
Post Box 9044 Stn Prov Govt,
Victoria, B.C.  V8W 9E2

                                                          Copies to: Robert J. Bauman,
                                                          Chief Justice, B.C. Supreme Court.
                                                          Gordon Turiff, president, Law Society
                                                          of B.C.
                                                          RCMP Deputy Commissioner, Gary
Dear Mr. de Jong:

     Having examined with care the basis of Crown prosecution services in B.C. as well as the role of the Attorney General, deputy Attorney General, and assistant deputy Attorney General;

    and having, specifically, examined the purpose and role of Special Crown Prosecutor;

   and having in mind that such a one is appointed “where there is a significant potential for a perceived or real improper influence in prosecutorial decision making…;

   I request of you – formally with this communication – (1) that you remove or cause to be removed William Berardino as Special Crown Prosecutor in the Basi, Virk, and Basi (BC Rail Scandal) case presently before Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie;

  (2) that you strike a Commission of Inquiry to investigate  prosecutorial services in British Columbia and ALL Special Crown Prosecutor appointments since Gordon Campbell took office as premier of the province, and that the Commission be asked to recommend the continuation, modification, or the termination of the Special Crown Prosecutor system as it is employed in British Columbia;

   (3) that you make public every direction given to Special Crown Prosecutors appointed since Gordon Campbell took office as premier of the province.  In each case, I understand, your ministry sets out the terms defining the Special Crown Prosecutor’s mandate.  The reason ALL of those definitions of mandate must be made public will become clear.

I am writing to you as a British Columbian concerned that the administration of justice in the province be conducted “fairly, impartially, effectively and respectfully on behalf of the whole community”.  My experience attending the court processes concerning Basi, Virk, and Basi (a small part of the BC Rail Scandal) leads me to conclude that the administration of justice in the province is not fair, impartial, effective, and respectful and is almost openly contemptuous of “the whole community”.

Indeed, on the very subject of this letter, I wrote some months ago to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett and asked her what protocol is in place to review the appointment of Special Crown Prosecutors.  She would not even acknowledge my letter or have someone else do so.

I refer in this letter, specifically, to the Special Crown Prosecutor as a status in British Columbia law, and to the appointment – in the B.C Rail Scandal actions – of William Berardino as Special Crown Prosecutor.

All British Columbians should have been alerted to the deep flaws in the system when, recently, then-Attorney General Wally Oppal chose a Special Crown Prosecutor in the so-called Bountiful polygamy case.  William Blackmore and James Oler of Bountiful, B.C, were the subjects of polygamy charges laid on January 6, 2009.  For some years interest in the Bountiful community had caused wide comment and RCMP investigation.  CTV news reported on January 7, 2009, that “Oppal was under fire to investigate Bountiful by both politicians and activists….”

A reasonable person might be drawn to believe the Gordon Campbell cabinet saw a highly political way to gain the favour of and increased power from the British Columbia public by conducting a trial and gaining a conviction against alleged bigamists at Bountiful.  If that could be the case, a reasonable person might not be wrong to say that almost every action in the case – which must have had the approval of the cabinet and premier – has the potential to be perceived as political.

We know the story.  “B.C’s Crown prosecutors remained reluctant to lay polygamy charges.” (CBC News, Sept. 23 09)

Astonishingly, as a result, Attorney General Wally Oppal then appointed Special Crown Prosecutors – first Richard Peck, and later Len Daoust.  Both believed a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms should be sought before proceeding with charges. 

And so Wally Oppal went to a third person, Terence Robertson, who agreed to be Special Crown Prosecutor.

As we know, Blackmore and Oler petitioned the court to stay the charges.  They argued successfully that Wally Oppal had gone “special Prosecutor shopping”.  The court scuttled the action, stopping it in September of 2009.

To reasonable and prudent Canadians, the cabinet of Gordon Campbell in the person of Wally Oppal might have the potential to be seen as engaging in a flagrant political determination to use the machinery of justice for political ends.

The Gordon Campbell cabinet in the person of Wally Oppal might have created the potential to be perceived as quite willing, first, to violate the integrity of B.C.’s Crown Prosecutors, and then to violate the integrity of the Special Crown Prosecutor institution for political advantage.

The CBC (Sept 23 09) comment is particularly ironic: “Special prosecutors are used in B.C. to replace regular Crown counsel in politically sensitive cases, to avoid the possibility of political interference”. 

In fact, the Bountiful polygamy case points to the very strong possibility that the cabinet of Gordon Campbell may be seen as having turned the Special Crown Prosecutor institution on its ear and may be perceived to be using it to assure it can interfere for political ends under the protection of a so-called independent and wholly unbiased machinery.

Your own comment that Mr. Oppal made a difficult decision with the best of intentions may have pleased members of the Gordon Campbell cabinet, but I doubt that it added luster to your reputation as an expert holding the position of First Law Officer of the Crown.

In fact the normal use of Special Crown Prosecutors - does not concern (or seem to envision) people like Blackmore and Oler. They were in no way connected to politicians, civil servants, or police.  They were, in fact, precisely the kind of people who would, normally, be served by B.C.’s regular Crown prosecutors. Not getting regular Crown counsel to agree to undertake the case against Blackmore and Oler – it would seem – Wally Oppal turned to the Special Crown Prosecutor institution, which may be activated by the Attorney General. One begins to fear that use of that institution, as it was used in the Bountiful case, may have the potential to create perceptions that it may be used to carry out political intentions – to violate ideas of the fair administration of justice.

Madam Justice Stromberg-Stein in a tepid remonstrance saw the matter clearly.  “The harm of successive special prosecutors is that it undermines the administration of justice by leaving the perception, if not the reality, of political interference and of an oppressive or unfair prosecution.” (quoted in Keith Fraser, Vanc. Sun, Sept. 23  09).

Especially astonishing is that Wally Oppal was formerly a Supreme Court judge and an Appeals Court judge – over many years. He of all people should have known – quite apart from politics – that the Special Crown Prosecutor institution should not be an instrument of personal choice. He of all people should have been armoured against the desire to use the prosecutorial system and the courts for political advantage – if that is how he used it.  It may be that his action simply expressed the willingness of the Gordon Campbell cabinet to violate - for political advantage - the rule of law and the fair administration of justice.

A brief look at a case in which a Special Crown Prosecutor was appointed in a political circumstance reveals an apparent chaos – perhaps a carefully orchestrated chaos - of prosecutorial behaviour in the province.

I choose the extraordinary Doug Walls case.  Walls was accused in 1998 of wrongful behaviour in the conduct of a car dealership in Prince George – involving “cheque kiting” between a credit union and CIBC, and he engaged, it is alleged, in questionable sale and lease of automobiles – and perhaps more.  In that year CIBC filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court in Vancouver in relation to Walls and to a codefendant’s behaviour.

Walls was an officer in the Liberal constituency.  He was a relation by marriage to Gordon Campbell, premier.  The car dealership collapsed when the improper behaviour was terminated.

Despite the allegations and the case filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Doug Walls, soon after, moved into a complex set of profitable relations through – mostly – the Ministry of Children and Family Development.  The roles he played are not all clear to me.  But he is reported, variously, to have been connected to a debt of $400,000 incurred by CareNet a non-profit society for which he worked and which had relation to the Ministry.  The Campbell government forgave the debt.  He is said to have collected $214,000 for 14 months of work for the government as well as $100,000 in 2002 and 2003, and about $65,000 for untendered contract work.

He was, as well, named Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Authority for Community Living, an arm, I believe, of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The CIBC case against Walls was, of course, public knowledge.  The case was no deterrent to his work for the Campbell government.

As a result of the $400,000 forgiven loan – which apparently hadn’t been fully cleared – investigations were opened.  Walls’ relation with B.C. government was terminated.  The deputy minister of Children and Family Development was fired.  The Minister resigned.

The machinery of the prosecution services lay idle.  No civil or criminal action or any kind was taken against Walls – or anyone else.  The deputy minister was paid more than a half million dollars in severance and holiday pay.

Out of the Walls matters a strange contradiction revealed itself.  The investigations which were undertaken led the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to conclude Walls had no privileged relation with Gordon Campbell, though Walls apparently name-dropped and emailed senior officials like Martyn Brown in charge of the premier’s office. The Conflict Commissioner wrote of “the somewhat remote connection by marriage” of Campbell and Walls.

But when Walls came to trial in 2007 in relation to the allegations of wrong doing made by CIBC, Walls’ relation to Gordon Campbell did seem to have weight.  For a Special Crown Prosecutor was appointed – in a routine, white collar crime matter between a businessman and a bank.

In 2006 a report stated that Walls chose trial by a Provincial Court judge alone, and his co-defendant chose a Supreme Court trial by judge and jury. In the 2007 trial, however, both men were tried by Associate Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Patrick Dohm, and both were given two-years-less-a-day “conditional” sentences which meant neither man, apparently, served five minutes in jail.  CIBC is said to have lost more than a million dollars.  The people of British Columbia – when all was finished – lost a great deal more.

Why was a Special Crown Prosecutor. Josiah Wood, appointed in Walls’ CIBC case?  What reason was given by the Attorney General?  What was Josiah Wood, “mandated” (instructed) to do by the Attorney General?

The first of those questions would not be asked about the only case that has arisen from the BC Rail Scandal (the corrupt transfer of BC Rail from public ownership to ownership by CNR). The three men accused of wrongdoing are all cabinet appointees.  In their cases selection of a Special Crown Prosecutor is wholly consistent with prosecution services procedures.

But we must ask several questions.  First, was there in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter – using the terms employed by Madam Justice Stromberg-Stein – a situation in which “successive special prosecutors” produced a condition which “undermines the administration of justice by leaving the perception, if not the reality, of political interference and of an oppressive or unfair prosecution?”

We are told Josiah Wood was, briefly, appointed Special Crown Prosecutor.  He was present at all-day meetings before he withdrew.  He withdrew on December 8, 2003, but he very likely had to hear discussion about the intended “raids” which were considered at least as early as October, 2003.

After Josiah Wood others were approached, apparently, to fill the position of Special Crown Prosecutor.  Who were they?  What were they mandated to do?  Rumour has it that one or more people did not “want to give up independence”.  What does that mean?

All of that activity occurred in relation to the whole BC Rail Scandal and other semi-related matters – before anyone was charged. Basi, Virk, and Basi were not charged until more than a year after a Special Crown Prosecutor was appointed.

The people of British Columbia must be told how many and who were approached, what mandates (instructions) they were given, and – in all cases – why they did not choose to act, and why Josiah Wood withdrew after accepting the post.  Was Attorney General Geoff Plant (and his ministry) “special Prosecutor shopping”?  For political reasons?

That is the first question.  The second concerns the appointment of William Berardino as Special Crown Prosecutor.  I do not suggest anything negative or uncomplimentary about the professional competence, the honesty, or the integrity of William Berardino.  As far as I am concerned they are not in question.

Service by an ordinary British Columbian to the rule of law, the fair administration of justice, and to the freedoms of all Canadians requires that in all matters involved in the BC Rail Scandal the potential for perceptions of bias and/or the potential for perceptions of political interference in the administration of justice must be examined – especially since every British Columbian has been affected – many believe negatively – by the transfer of ownership of BC Rail.

William Berardino was appointed Special Crown Prosecutor by the ministry of the Attorney General when Geoff Plant was Attorney General and when Allan Seckel was deputy Attorney General. 

[Of interest is the memo sent from Gordon Campbell to ministers on June 25, 2001 in which he stated that the role of chief executive officer would not be performed by ministers but by deputy ministers who would be selected by the premier’s office.  That appears to have meant that Gordon Campbell was attempting to move from government by elected representatives to  government by appointed favourites.]

Whatever the June 25, 2001 memo meant, on January 1, 2004, Charlie Smith, journalist, reported that Special Crown Prosecutor William Berardino (appointed December 2003) was once a partner of the Attorney General, Geoff Plant, in the firm of Russell Dumoulin.

In fact, Geoff Plant and William Berardino were at Russell Dumoulin at the same time for many years – from 1989 to 1996, at which time Mr. Plant ran for political office.

In addition, the deputy Attorney General at the time of Mr. Berardino’s appointment was Allan Seckel.  Mr. Seckel’s earlier practice was almost wholly with Russell Dumoulin.  He became “deputy managing partner” there, and was a part of the firm, with Mr. Berardino, for eleven or twelve years.

Mr. Berardino left Russell Dumoulin in 2000 to go into Berardino and Harris LLP.  Mr. Harris had also been with Russell Dumoulin, where he was – before leaving – manager of the litigation department.

Allan Seckel, one biography reports, had worked in Geoff Plant’s election campaign to become an MLA.  In 2003 Mr. Seckel left Russell Dumoulin to become Geoff Plant’s deputy Attorney General.

The connections among Mr. Berardino, Mr. Plant, Mr. Seckel, and Mr. Harris cannot, I think, be ignored.  Mr. Seckel (we are told) assisted Mr. Plant in political matters before being appointed deputy Attorney General.  And Mr. Berardino was in long professional association with Mr. Seckel until only three years before being appointed Special Crown Prosecutor.  All three were in long association with Geoff Plant.

The purpose of the appointment of a Special Crown Prosecutor – especially in cases where politicians, civil servants, or police are involved with, or in some relation to, an accused – is to guarantee to the public the complete absence of bias and to assure the independence from (and therefore, I would say, all freedom from connection with) involved parties.

The Ministry of the Attorney General specifically records that “Special prosecutors are appointed where there is a significant potential for a perceived or real improper influence in prosecutorial decision making in a given case”.

The BC Rail Scandal presents a situation in which the three accused men were Orders in Council (premier’s office) appointees and – especially two of them – worked on the premier’s project to transfer the public ownership of BC Rail to the private possession of CNR – and, indeed, they face accusations in relation to that transfer. 

A connection to their superiors in cabinet, and elsewhere, is constantly and indefatigably argued by Defence counsel.  So much is that the case that Gordon Campbell and associates in the transfer of BC Rail to CNR are almost “ghost” participants in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case. Any lawyer – I suggest – having had close and/or long association with a member or members of Gordon Campbell’s cabinet or his senior civil service may have, as a result, the potential to be perceived in ways that do harm to the reputation of the administration of justice.

I believe reasonable and prudent Canadians – apprised of the information set out here – would have no doubt that the facts of the matter present a condition in which [despite his undoubted independence, honesty, and integrity] the potential for perceived bias and/or the potential for perceived political interest on the part of Mr. Berardino is inescapable.

I believe the condition described requires that Mr. Berardino step away from any involvement in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter.

That whole matter, thirdly, is complicated by actions of Gordon Campbell, premier.  We must remember that on May 8, 2007, Gordon Campbell changed the operating and effective protocol for determining the status of cabinet documents sought in relation to the Basi, Virk, and Basi case.  Mr. Campbell stated that henceforth Allan Seckel would be responsible and he would work with the Special Crown Prosecutor to decide which cabinet documents relating to BC Rail should be deemed confidential.

Mr. McCullough for the Defence alleged on April 3, 2009, that Mr. Seckel had taken on a political role, and – in addition – was making political statements in defence of the Gordon Campbell government.  I believe Mr. McCullough’s statement has merit.  I believe that Mr. Campbell’s action on June 4, 2009 (in relation to the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter) creates the potential for perceived bias and/or the potential for perceived political interest in Mr. Campbell himself and in deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel – who might then have the potential to be perceived to employ bias in his relation with William Berardino … and, indeed, any others….

Mr. Seckel was thrust into a position, I believe, that had been fulfilled by people carefully insulated from political interference so that the disclosure of documents could be as uncontaminated as possible by political interests. 
We remember that on June 25, 2001 Gordon Campbell sent a memo to ministers saying that in future the role of chief executive officer would be filled not by ministers but by deputy ministers appointed from the premier’s office.

I wish that I could, but I cannot see how the long relation among Mr. Seckel, Mr. Berardino, Mr. Harris, and Mr. Plant can be brushed aside as irrelevant to the ‘mighty principle’ of unbiased independence in Special Crown Prosecutors.  Nor can I see how the description of the Special Crown Prosecutor set out by the Attorney General’s ministry can be said to be demonstrated – without the potential of being perceived adversely - by the appointment of William Berardino in the BC Rail Scandal matters.

The whole matter, in addition, fourthly, is complicated further in the method by which Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett was removed to be replaced - after three years of detailed hearings - by Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie on the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter.  On June 4, 2009, Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm appeared in court to hear an application by Mr. Berardino that Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett be removed in favour of a new (to be trial) judge.  I could not see a rational unfolding of meaning in that appearance.

Mr. Berardino argued that Mr. Dohm had the power to remove Madam Justice Bennett and to appoint a new judge.  Mr. Bolton for the Defence was of the opinion, expressed out of court in answer to questions, that Madam Justice Bennett had power over her situation – to stay or to leave. I never heard that difference resolved in discussion in the courtroom.

In court discussion the word “recused” was misused since Madam Justice Bennett had – in no way – any conflict of interest. 

Why then, I ask, did Mr. Berardino want her removed?

Mr. Dohm made statements revealing he believed he had power to remove Madam Justice Bennett and that he was going to assign the trial judge, but not now.  He said he knew who it was going to be.  But he would not name the replacement that day, he said, because he didn’t want to muddy the waters by appointing a trial judge while Madam Justice Bennett was still engaged with the matter of the case.

Mr. Berardino argued that Madam Justice Bennett couldn’t be in two places at once.  (She was recently raised to the Appeals Court.)  He also stated – as I understood him – that Defence had not been filing motions with all materials and all summaries of learned argument so the Prosecution could reply and respond.  He said that “we” have not been following that process in this case…. He seemed to imply that fact (if it was a fact, and I am reporting it correctly) indicated a failure on the part of Madam Justice Bennett. 

When Mr. McCullough rose to object, Mr. Dohm silenced him.  As I understand the process, no real argument on the motion happened or was permitted to happen.  Mr. Berardino seemed to me to be saying that one of the two reasons Madam Justice Bennett should be removed was that she was not assuring proper process in the hearings.  Mr. Dohm seemed happy to hear that said – and yet Madam Justice Bennett was promoted to the Appeals Court.  The hearing before Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm simply did not – to me – make sense.  I still cannot make sense of it.  And it was a very important hearing.

Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett was removed in fact (as far as I could understand the process) – as a fait accompli – on June 4, 2009 in a brief hearing that was more like a press conference in which Mr. Dohm announced the change.  To this observer, there was no doubt in either Mr. Berardino’s or Mr. Dohm’s mind that Madam Justice Bennett would go.

The potential for a perception of bias was presented without disguise, I believe, when Mr. Dohm stated he knew who the replacement would be and would announce the name later, without, in fact, hearing any significant argument against replacement. The whole event, to me, seemed “cooked up”.

I suppose there are cases in which Special Crown Prosecutors ask for the removal of judges long into the preparation of cases for trial, but I don’t know of any … others. 

Placing those four matters concerning the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter before you, as I have done, I believe that as Attorney General you should ask – for the reasons cited – that Mr. Berardino remove himself as Special Crown Prosecutor in the matters arising from the BC Rail Scandal, the matters involving Basi, Virk, and Basi. 

I request, secondly, that all instructions to all Special Crown Prosecutors since the election of Gordon Campbell as premier be made public.

I request in addition that you put in action an open, public, independent Inquiry into prosecutorial services in British Columbia, the Inquiry to recommend that the institution of Special Crown Prosecutor in the province be terminated, or continued as it is, or continued in modified form.

I have become convinced that the institution of the Special Crown Prosecutor has a strong likelihood to have become soiled, that it may be used (and seems, perhaps, on occasion to have been used) as an instrument by which to defeat the rule of law and irreparably to damage the administration of justice.

I will look with pleasure for your reply to this letter.

Yours truly,                                                                    

Robin Mathews



Beautiful Robin! Let's hope it gets a decent response, if any at all. I'm beginning to wonder if it's not time to take this whole damn affair over the heads of the BCSC, to the SCOC...and cross our fingers even then?

The corruption of this government made itself apparent in 2001, and continues to this day as far as I'm concerned. What else are we supposed to think when we see Collins and Dobell's company rewarded with a 100 million dollar government contract today? Especially when they're two of the people likely to be called as witnesses in the BC Rail scandal!

British Columbia seems to have become a sewer for judicial and political misfits. Is this really what we deserve? Is this what we're willing to settle for by our apparent disinterest in the political systems currently running BC? It looks that way.
Leah I think first you have to exhaust all avenues of the Courts at the provincial level... which includes the Court of Appeals before you approach the Supreme Court of Canada.
i dont think this is beautify at all. i think it strays off the topic entirely, is full of conjecture, speculation, rant and rave, just like most all other letters i have seen from this author.

i do not think this letter deserves any response and would be utterly shocked if he did receive one, if just to say that it was summarily read and disposed of to the trash bin.
The Liberal politicians will not dare to attempt an answer. Robin really hit the target squarely. Indeed, the role of Special Prosecutor, intended to ensure fair and independent processing of charges, has been turned on its head to ensure the opposite.

Main stream media? Where are you?
10:10, you need to adopt a User Name, please.

May I suggest "TrashBin"?

"Anonymous" comments won't be accepted any longer.
I just started visiting this site a few days ago, and I cannot claim to understand what the Basi et al case is really about. However Robin Mathew's letter appears to be the result of a considerable amount of meticulous fact gathering and analysis.

The Attorney General has heard from me as well. For example, in 2008 I received a letter offering to accept from me $1000 in lieu of proceeding with a costs assessment after my appeal of a 2007 decision was unsuccessful. The previous year I had sent them $1000 because I wanted no obstacle to proceeding with the appeal.

In response to the second demand I wrote back to Wally Oppal and one of the things I said was that "I do not voluntarily make donations to criminals or criminal organizations". That was the end of that matter. Needless to say, I was delighted by the spectacular manner in which StoneWally's political career came to an end.

The Ministry of A.G. appears to be the most powerful bureaucracy in this province and in my view the abuse of that power is a systemic problem.
Wonderful letter Robin. Have you considered guest lecturing at some of the law schools in Canada? I think that it would be beneficial for our law school students to have the opportunity to discuss and debate these events. I am hopeful that the future lawyers can learn from this large practical joke on the residents of BC.

PS: I will suggest another user name for 10:10; "Gordo"
Our VicPD Sergeant who was connected to the Liberal developer resigned yesterday rather than face the discipline hearing for manipulating the media on the takedown of the Chief.
Anon 10:10...I'm glad Mary isn't going to accept Anonymous comments anymore - find a name, own it, own your opinion...and don't be afraid to state it...even if it is blatantly stupid.

Do you think before you write? Or do you just write what you're told to in PAB fashion?
aBC - you're right. It was wishful thinking on my part.

It would be nice to run out of corruption with this trial (at the justice and political levels) before the province runs out of money funding this b*llsh*t.

Have a good one... .
10:10 shoul adopt the name "Anonymous PAB."
Robin this is perfect. Full of fact, names, and a good aspect of what is going on in this province. Good work, thanks. I believe I will now write these people a email referring to yor letter in a few days asking why there is no reply when it took 2 ministries only 6 days to make a decision at Cache Creek.
Re your 1/7/10:20 comment;
Good stuff Mary! That's exactly what I meant by 'reducing the options'. It's your blog, you set the rules!
Professor Matthews has asked some very good questions that are deserving of answers. I know that I have wondered whether the Special Prosecutor retaining process is a conflict free zone. The examples Robin put forth certainly have crossed my mind.
I would be willing to put my name in support of his letter in an online petition.
Hi Mary,

Thank you Robin for your determined PUSH towards the truth.

Speaking of the A.G.

“A channel” news this morning reported that Attorney General Mike de Jong wants to start a pilot project that would see cameras set up in selected courtrooms around BC.

The A.G. was keen to start this project as soon as the technical issues were handled. Jong also added that the cameras would help British Columbians understand the justice system better.

The former A.G. oppal also brought up the camera issue before the last election, saying he was looking into the use of cameras in the courtroom.

Me, being cynical……I wonder what’s up?

Since when has this Campbell government ever wanted British Columbians to understand anything better?
Anonymous 8:06
Wow. Has the media reported on this?

and...I've said it before and I'll say it again. Robin Matthews is a courageous and devoted man. What drives you to attend every session of this case and then report and comment about it Robin? I would be interested in hearing your answer to that question.
I dont find Mathews credible. He has suspected racism as motivating the charges and prosecution of BVB, as they are "sikh men." Oct 5 2009.

How does he know they are "sikh"? Maybe they are. They are for sure indo-canadian.

Coincidently, the former Attorny General, Wally Opal, is also an indo canadian. Maybe even a "sikh man"?
gee Whiz,

Many thanks for adopting a User Name. I can tell you that it makes a very pleasant difference.

I've read and re-read your comment, but I don't really understand your point.

Do you believe that the charges were NOT motivated by racism? That's racism, not religious persuasion.

What's your point?
I have seen no credible evidence whatsoever of charges and procesution of BVB as being motivated by racism. None. My point is, Mathews comes off like a ranting, raving lunatic when he tries to make that connection.
Anonymous 8:01:

Are you the same person as "gee Whiz"? If so, PLEASE use that name when you sign in ... or you risk being deleted.

As explained, I am not accepting Anonymous comments any longer.

Robin Mathews never tried to make any case for racism; for discussion purposes, he was wondering why those 3 men were charged while none of those who were in positions of authority were charged,

who, you must admit, were not only different because they had "authority" but, he asked, could it have been something to do with race? (sorry, I don't have the exact wording).

I strongly disagree with your general complaint. I think Robin has made a complex situation much easier to understand, as we search for the real causes of losing a railroad.

What is your opinion, for example, of the long relationship between Bill Berardino, the attorney general, and others who have key positions in the matter but who SHOULD be at arm's length?
Anonymous 8:06 - is there anything more on this? That whole thing stunk at the time, mainly as he had led the Raid on the Legislature. Are more people involved, has media reported on it?
In respect of Bill Berardino, he is a lawyer. So is and was the AG, as were many other AGs. I see nothing wrong with this Lawyer and / or his partnership getting income for doing this work for the province.

Now if Berardino was a family member of Collins, Basi or Virk, Bains, or anyone at Pilothouse, I definately wonder if the fix was in or what.

But no, I have no problem with Berardino getting the work, nor did I ever find Plant anything but solid, pragmatic and competant.

Methinks Mathews sees smoke where none exists, but for steam coming off his over-worked imagination.

Lets get this thing to trial.
Gee Whiz,

What about that bit about being "at arm's length" and not connected ...

that's what Robin is pointing to,

not their competence.
P.S. Gee Whiz,

This is for you, a reminder of what Robin actually said:

The connections among Mr. Berardino, Mr. Plant, Mr. Seckel, and Mr. Harris cannot, I think, be ignored. Mr. Seckel (we are told) assisted Mr. Plant in political matters before being appointed deputy Attorney General. And Mr. Berardino was in long professional association with Mr. Seckel until only three years before being appointed Special Crown Prosecutor. All three were in long association with Geoff Plant.

The purpose of the appointment of a Special Crown Prosecutor – especially in cases where politicians, civil servants, or police are involved with, or in some relation to, an accused – is to guarantee to the public the complete absence of bias and to assure the independence from (and therefore, I would say, all freedom from connection with) involved parties.

what exactly does Robin mean by "at arms length?" and not connected? I am unaware of any blood relationship that would connected anyone?? Nor do I see any conflict of intest, real or perceived. I have not heard of any disapproval or action by the Law Society. Nor have I heard of any conflict of interest raised by the NDP. So what Mathews has in his head is beyond me ... ?

Enough talk already; lets get the trial started.
I see what Mathews is saying but says many things I disagree with (ie that the charges and prosecution was / is motivated by racism). Thats just so absurd.

I disagree there is any conflict or bias here other than that of the Defence in their desperation to do anything to keep this from going to trial.
Gee Whiz,

OK, so it's two different points of view. Nothing wrong with that. And I certainly agree that it will be a good thing to get that trial going.

Right now I want to thank you for picking a User Name and sticking with it,

it's so much better for me to be able to follow a point of conversation.

I hope others will do the same.
If three people enter a partnership to sell widgets together, they are associated and do not deal with each other at arm's length.

According to Gee Whiz, that does not apply if the partners sell legal services instead of widgets.
Anonymous comments are no longer accepted on this site.

Once again, I remind my valued commentors that they may retain 100% of their privacy -- and will also assist me in moderating this forum -- if they adopt a USER NAME of their own choosing. And stick with it.

That way, we can have a more meaningful conversation.

I hope that the Anonymous comment just deleted (about de Jong) will be sent in again with USER NAME attached.

I suggest "ordersfromgordo".

Gee Whiz is a dissembler, a fielder of pointless points and repeater of incantations ("let's get this to trial", over and over). Blathering absurdities in face of powerful facts, as he is doing, is an old tactic of agents provocateurs and "moles" sent to disrupt political organizing. Whether on the payroll of the PAB or not, this guy (and I'm sure it's a guy) can't see, or claims not to, that "at arm's length" would not be only about family, but also about relationships such as those that long-time law partners would have.

Nor do I see any conflict of intest,[sic] real or perceived. is a blatant denial of reality and presumes that his opinion (whoever he is) has some kind of greater weight than anyone else here, including and especially Robin.

A gross denial of reality is what the "prosperity" of BC is built on, and how the government of the corrupt is justified.

It's also pretty clear Gee Whiz wants to nail Basi, Virk and Basi for this all by themselves, and whitewash the role of everyone else.

No doubt, too, the moon is made of lollipops. Green-cheese flavoured lollipops perhaps, but still lollipops.

"I see nothing wrong" is a refrain from this person, over and over and over. Yes, such moral turpitude is a self-enforcing delusion. The inability to see injustice as wrong is the mark of a political psychopath.

This is what I was saying a while ago about how disheartening it was to realize the full scope of sociopathic self-interest in BC, in the context of those who work for, are part of, or campaign for the BC Liberals. it's not just Gordo who displays the trait of complete and vicious insouciance; it's an army of the brainwashed (some of them, no doubt, well-paid for being so).

This person is so insistent on his non-points that I'd make a bet (if we knew who he was) that he's in the food chain associated with the scandal......and in the line of fire if more than BVB are ever charged.
Happy New Year Mary and fellow followers. Look at this. Times Colonist Jan. 9/2010

A Victoria police officer accused of leaking information to the media about the former chief has retired, avoiding a disciplinary hearing.

The Victoria Police Department received a complaint in September 2008 regarding then-sergeant Jim Simpson, whose alleged disclosure of documents to the media sparked an investigation into then-chief Paul Battershill. The leaked letter in question triggered a meeting where senior officers aired concerns about Battershill, including his affair with a labour lawyer contracted to provide advice to the police board.
A disciplinary hearing was scheduled for Feb. 1, but with Simpson's retirement, that hearing is cancelled.
Sorry not sure who wrote this story, can any one tell me what page it actually is on in the paper.

Thanks, E.M.,

from what we know (which certainly isn't the WHOLE story),

this is very good news indeed.
Did anyone else see this letter from Kevin Bent
Vancouver Sun Jan 8 2010

Dear customers:

The parent company of The Vancouver Sun and The Province, Canwest Limited Partnership and its subsidiaries have filed for creditor protection Friday, January 8, 2010. Please, let me assure you this will not affect you or your relationship with our newspapers.
Yes, E.M.,

I certainly saw the editorial announcement and damn near choked ...

Mr Bent (Mr Cave-In Bent) assures us that we'll be receiving the same high quality news reporting ... and hogwash like that,

I mean, I don't like to kick anybody when they're down,

but surely to heaven if he's willing to sink under the weight of Gordo's lies and fakery

then maybe it's no loss to democracy at all.

But it sure is pathetic.

Anyway, I've been suggesting to others how cool it would be if good bloggers could buy one of the 23 newspapers and begin telling all they know about what we need to know,

if you catch my drift. Two current examples: Laila Yuile's current posting on corruption in public works tendering, and Grant Gough's on Gordo's happy new year.
To prove the point, there's a much better news report in The Globe and Mail for Jan. 8, 2010:

CanWest newspapers go on block despite CEO Asper's objections
EM I didn't choke on Mr. Bent's statement. It was great to see my yearly subscription, paid for in advance, is being held in trust rather than bailing out parent company CanWest.

You paid CanWest in advance?

Just curious: when does your yearly subscription expire? You should have everything you need to know about Tiger Woods and Jay Lenno by then, for sure.
skookum, what verbose and pedantic diatribe!!!

btw, you are right; i see no injustice in the apppointed prosecutor. none. but yet you do. fine. i really dont care if you feel that way or not. yet from the tone and import of your letter, my opinion really seems to bother you. leave that alone. i dont share your opinion; lay off already.

the trial will start with or without my or your shill. so be it.
oh and skookum, you would loose your bet becuase i have no connection to ANYONE in this trial, nor do i know anyone connected to it. None. I come here for informaition (i am insterested in why and what is taking so long) but mostly for my own amusement.

thanks for responding to my posts; that amuses and thus encourages me!!
Have we progressed in the Canwest arrangement? Instead of the Asper boys serving their financial masters, the bankers take direct control of the communications hydra.

Now, expect the newspapers to run stories about how wonderfully well we are served by Canadian banks and how it could be even better if all forms of regulation were assigned to the bankers directly.

I can't wait for the cross-marketing campaigns. Need a loan? How about a 12 month subscription, too?
Re Simpson, the rumor within VicPD is that recovered e mails implicate some other people and the other shoes are going to drop soon, including senior managers.
You seem surprised BC Mary that I paid in advance. How do you manage to get for your daily newspaper out of the box without paying for it?
Anon 11:27 ... please,

please, please choose a NAME for your comments.

Good one, Norman Farrell ...

and will the Banks as publishers be any less supportive of Gordo, Gordo's election campaigns, Gordo's lifestyle? I don't think so.

Only in BC?
aBC ...

You silly person, I don't have to pay a year in advance to get one of CanWest's lousy newspapers out of the box.

Btw, how long does your so-called subscription run, anyway? If it runs, that is.

Maybe you should ask CanWest for your money back.
I'm more than happy with the service I'm receiving from the Vancouver Sun, besides, my payments along with other subscriber's, goes a long way to paying for the assistance this blog has received by skimming the writings of the journalists who work for the Vancouver Sun its sister newspapers.
Wouldn't this be a great time for the competition branch to step in and insist the big dailies be separated from the small community papers? Without monopoly ownership controlling most of the publications in the lower mainland, we might have a much better marketplace for ideas.

Admittedly, the vibrant community of on-line opinion exchange makes this less important that it used to be. However, real competition benefits consumers, which is why large entrepreneurs aim to eliminate it whenever possible.
BC Mary, using this as a search on Google:

"bctrialofbasi-virk" vpalmer

You have used the services of Vaughn Palmer, who works for the Vancouver Sun, 60 "lousy" times.

I'll ask again: how much longer does your 1-year prepaid subscription last?

C'mon, you can tell us.

Yes ... a 2nd chance to take the chains off the press in BC.

Gosh, you're hard to please. Yes, I've alerted readers many, many times to any news report (no matter where it's published) which mentions Basi-Virk or BC Rail.

I do that respectfully, taking only an intro of their work and then providing the URL so that the reader must go directly to the source for the full story. In other words, Vaugh Palmer gains a few readers ... You see something wrong with that ... ?

It's something which, I believe, is welcomed by anybody who works in journalism.

You want me to boycott Palmer or something?

Btw, I've sent a story or two their way too ... how about that?

I'd still like to know how much longer your 1-year prepaid subscription to a CanWest rag lasts. Oh, and just to be clear: CanWest runs very biased, limited coverage newspapers. Did you know that?
March, 2010

Now I guess the question from you will be....... "Are you going to renew?" I'll wait till March


Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun. Professors aim at Harper for proroguing Parliament .... so that the Conservatives (and other MPs) can have time off from work (with pay) to attend the 2010 Winter Olympics. How is it that the BC Liberals can shut down the BC Legislature (proroguing) just so Premier Gordon Campbell can escape the wrath of the Opposition, and public, over the BC Rail pre-trial proceedings?
oh by the way, including "XXX Salsbury Drive" as to hide Mr. Mathews address gives too much away. The units on Salsbury Drive only goes five short blocks long.

Why include any of his address?
BC Mary I have to agree with you that Canwest appears to provide biased, limited coverage.

THe TC didnt even cover the Bains trial that started this whole mess. YOU had to bring the fact that that Bains was found guilty and sent to prison for 9 yrs to their attention.

How utterly confounding. One may speculate why:

Incompetence? Collusion w/the province? or maybe it was becuase there are fewer reporters due to the fact that news media and adverstising is going the way of the dinosaur, and that mostly all coverage now is of national concern that can be copied to regional and local newspapers within the corporate group so as to fill the papers and save money on reporters at the same time?

Skookum ... where are you? I would love to hear from you; come out and play!!

Commentors adopting their own special User Names has provided an unexpected bonus.

Now I know who participates in the conversation with good ideas.

And now we all know who the A-holes are, too, whining and complaining. You just never quit, do you. Everything and everybody ... all bad, all wrong, according to you.
Gee Whiz,

Too true. CanWest's newspaper in Victoria never did publish a word about the Bains trial, when they could have picked up Ian Mulgrew's Feb 17, 2009 story from Vancouver Sun. For some reason, they didn't.

It leaves us wondering what else CanWest never mentions.
aBc what do you mean, "just so Premier Gordon Campbell can escape the wrath of the Opposition, and public, over the BC Rail pre-trial proceedings"???

You mean Carol James and the NDP?
Youre joking, right? Funny!

As for the Public, you would know that the news media rarely if ever reports on this trial, so just how would the Public be able to "wrath" anything to Campell when the Public is in the dark as nothing is ever reported on the topic to begin with???

Have you been drinking?
aBC, re your 4:31 comment of BC Mary who removed part of Mathews address, and your comment as to why include the address at all, may i add the following:

I think BC Mary is showing that she cares about the privacy of others when she attempts to remove such extraneous informaiton from her blogs. As you would be aware, the same cannot be said for other blog masters, who post the complete address as provided on the letters as though they are oblivious to any privacy concerns of the authors.

Remember, these letters were adressed not to an open forum, but to others. As such the Author may have not intended or noticed that his personal address would be made known to everyone on the planet becuase he had put it there on his letter. So its thinking ahead and prudent of BC MAry to anticipate that, and remove part of the address just in case. Harms the import of the letter not. And gets the informaiton out to us all fast than it would if she had to go over all these concerns with the authors first.

So lighten up a little will ya?

Why flame everything and everyone that gets under your skin?
Gee Whiz,

Thanks for the assist, it's much appreciated.

To the witless twerp who wrote in at 8:38 AM

please note again that Anonymous comments (especially those denouncing others for anonymity) are no longer accepted on this site.

I hope you will try again when you're in a better frame of mind. And ready to discuss the topic of BCRAIL.
An excellent letter. I think Robin's concerns are becoming apparent to more and more people, who search out the free press.

I too hope to see the Canwest empire broken up into individual units for sale. Lets get some differing opinion and some real competition! I hope this is the time, when we reach critical mass and take back our democracy!

Thanks, BC Mary.
Kim although I disagree with some of Mathews comments, I agree with many of them, and I especially agree with you in that I too hope Canwest empire is set aside so that other, small, more localised, diversified, brave and motivated reporting gets done and voiced.
Thank you Robin for formalizing what many are feeling is happening in BC. Knowing in your gut that things are not as they seem has merit. What to do about it is another. One commenter above has mentioned they would sign some sort of on-line petition. I would as well.

I certainly feel that Beautiful BC, since Gordo has been at the helm, is where justice has become a privelege and not a right.
island cynic,

What a nice message ... thank you!

I guess our best efforts could go into the RECALL petitions,

especially in the riding of Vancouver - Point Grey which could relieve us of Gordo and his decisions.
yes BC Mary 10:08 but if we RECALLED campbell and the rest of the Liberal bandits, then we would be left with Carol James and no one wants that.
Two things, Gee WhiZ:

1) There is nobody worse than Campbell,

2) and I hear that Carole James might not be around much longer, as Opposition leader,

So 3) read 1) again.
BC Mary I heard the same. I heard Moe Sihota is going to be it. If so, then yes, the NDP will win in a Landslide. If Moe can keep the likes of Krog half-way on topic, and thats a big IF, and if he can find any talent to run a cabinet, an even bigger IF, then the province will succeed.
Hi Mary,

Gee Whiz…..January 10,2010 3:25 PM

I wonder if you would like to enlighten the legislature raids readers to which of Robin Mathews comments you disagree with and why?
parazone, I have already done that. If you havent cared to pay attention, say so. Dont use a cover to disguise your lack of attention. Either way, I wont repeat myself yet again.
i dont agree with Mathew's indications that the charges and prosecution was or is motivated by racism.

I dont even know if BVB are Sikh men, something Mathers has stated in a letter as if fact.

Last I checekd, Sikhism is a religion, not a race or nationality.

I am unaware of any statement by any of the accused in respect of their faith. I assume all were born in Canada and none of them practice Sikhism, as none of them where turbans.

I do notice that Basi Virk and Basi are of east indian decent, and that as such we may pc refer to them as indo-canadian.

I note that the previous attorny general was indo-canadian and appeared to have no bias for or against other indo-canadians.

I notice that Jim Duncan and Tony Young are not indo-canadian, yet they too have been charged with various crimes connected to Basi.

So where is the racism?
Gee Whiz,

You are so mistaken.

To begin, the names of each of the three accused is:

Udhe (Dave) Singh Basi
Bobby Singh Virk
Aneal Singh Basi

and if you look up the meaning of the word Singh, I think you will find that it is a Sikh reference.

Be that as it may ... there were more people involved in the BCRail-CN deal than Basi, Virk, or Basi ... people who were NOT Sikh ...

especially those who allegedly paid bribes to Basi, but who were NOT Sikh,

and they were not arrested.

So it is fair and reasonable, when exploring a question such as: if 4 people commit a crime and only 2 of them are charged, is that because of racism ...

so what is your problem with that ... or have you figured out that it is OK for Kierans and Bornmann to receive better treatment for no reason at all ...
Thats for pointing out that these three were born unto Sikh families. Perhaps it follows they too are Sikh.

Wasnt the Attonry General also Sikh?

For all you know, all of those charged also happen to be Scorpios.

The connectioon Mathews is trying to make in respect of racisim is such nonsense, and I dont think you have established any evidence.

Are Jim Duncan or Tony Jones Sikh? Scorpios?
Gee Whiz,

There's obviously no point in continuing this circular conversation. You aren't searching for understanding.
BC Mary, might i suggest that you will defend Mathews no matter what he says,no matter how absurd and cheap? Have you EVER dared to disagree with Mathews? Or are you in agreement with all he says?

Mathews has, imo, presented NO evidence that the charges and prosecution were motivated by racsim, and neither have you.

The reason WHY others were not charged we will not know until the trial starts and we hear the evidence and the wire tap details. Who said what. Who offered or asked for a bribe and how it was presented, what was expected in return, etc and so on. I cant wait!!!!!!!! Until then, you arnt exploring anything. You are speculating, speculating over the pale of the absurd I might add.

Imagine police recommending charges if only becuase of the colour of skin of the alleged offending party. I dont buy that at all. Not here in Victoria anyway.

I acknowlege that many indo canadians have been charged connected to this mess, some already covicted (bains, 9 yrs), but Jones and Duncan do not fit the profile of being a Sikh. But even if they did, so what? Proves nothing, other than there was a comminality that had nothing to do with the activities they are alleged to have commited. Their trial will resolve that, I hope.

Please BC Mary, if you have anything palapable, Mathews would have disclosed that by now. I think the accusation of racisim is really, really cheap and tired.

I do admit though, I am very intregued as to why Bornmann didnt get charged with anything, what sort of sweet heart deal he got, and why it was so necessary. This I gotta hear...!
Gee Whiz,

Read my lips: you have misunderstood something Robin said. HE WAS NOT ADVOCATING RACISM. He posed the question, for discussion purposes: could the arrest of Basi, Virk, Basi have been a question of racism?

We don't know the answer to that,

but I don't see how you can read that, and then come up with the crazy idea that Robin Mathews believes in racism.
BC Mary, I cant see your lips but why are you SHOUTING?

So what if you say he isnt advocating racism. Neither were the police officers advocating racism when they recommended charges and the Crown aproved some or all of them.

Or are you suggesting I said that Mathews was advocating racisim?

If so, read back; I have never said that. What I have said is that I disagree with Mathews when he offered up the absurd notion (on more than one occasion) that the charges and prosecution was motivated somehow by racism.

Read Mathews lips however you like, but I think its absolutely unfounded and absurd and serves no one other than the uninformed, the niave, and of course those who are trying to manufacture doubt where none otherwise exists.

Gee Whiz!!!!!
Seriously, G.W., it's time to close this discussion.
Amen to that Mary!
Amen to what, Leah? the fact that Mathews and BC Mary are unable to back up their comments that charges were somehow motivated by racism, then I agree with you.
Amen to the closing of the racism comments. Period.
Leah, agreed; its totally irrelevant.
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