Monday, March 08, 2010

 

BC Rail: scenes to remember as the May 3 trial date approaches

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The other day, while cyber-chatting with someone who thanked me for work done on behalf of BC Rail, I thought about something new ...

Apart from the questionable sale of a huge public asset, doesn't BC Rail have an extra dimension?  To me, it certainly does. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized what that extra dimension to BC Rail is ... to me, at least. And so it became clearer, why I am quite happy to keep doing this blog. 

Now I'm wondering if it applies to others who (like me) were scarcely even aware of the "why" behind it all ...

So here's what I figured out: 


BC Rail is a symbol. It's the precious symbol of the beautiful old province of British Columbia (the whole length and breadth) that most of us know and love. 

BC Rail  was hard-won, leaping from one phase to the next, managing to extend and improve the services to towns, villages, reserves, farms, industries, along its 1,500 km. north-south length plus more trackage west and north from Prince George,  facilitating a genuinely healthy economy. 


In my mind's eye, I always picture BC Rail steaming happily along the edge of a beautiful B.C. river (not an IPP, but one of our own rushing rivers), its train whistle echoing off the steep mountain on its other side. Ours. Our river, our mountain, our train: the practical, useful, profitable train that joins us all in this unique province.


So BC Rail to me symbolizes British Columbia. And frankly, I find it personally intolerable that it was taken from our control by trickery ("Elect me and I will never sell BC Rail"), crippled in its ability to respond to local needs, and placed in a position where it is submissive to the orders of non-British Columbians in Texas. Or Montreal. Or wherever.


Possibly we'll find out how this happened,  after May 3, 2010. That's my hope, anyway.


So, for the moment, I am following a small faded note I made long ago which says simply "Hansard - March 3, 2004: No minutes exist to seal the BC Rail deal. See Nov. 13, 2002 - Secret Agenda. Nov. 20 - expelled."


Please join me, in looking back at the beginnings of the BC Rail tragedy. - BC Mary. 
__________________________________________

Official Report of
Debates of the Legislative Assembly
(Hansard)
Wednesday March 3, 2004
Afternoon sitting
Volume 21, Number 5
Read it all, click HERE.

Oral Questions

POLICE INVESTIGATION OF
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS


 J. MacPhail [Leader of the 2-person Opposition]: Will the government ... tell us why David Basi got fired and Bob Virk got suspended with pay? What is the government not telling us about what they knew about the activities of David Basi that was not in the summary of the warrants released yesterday? Bob Virk is still on the public payroll, when his actions, according to the summary, are no different than Mr. Basi's. Can the Deputy Premier tell this House what the Premier and his chief of staff know about what was going on in the Finance minister's office that they aren't telling the public?

           Hon. G. Collins [Minister of Finance in 77-member Campbell government]: I answered that question yesterday in estimates. I answered it two months ago, and I answered it yesterday in the corridor.

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

           J. MacPhail: Well, maybe the Minister of Finance is having a conversation in his own mind. He has not answered that question at all.

           When the police raided the Finance minister's office, that Finance minister assured British Columbians that David Basi had no role in the sale of B.C. Rail. The summary released yesterday directly contradicts the Minister of Finance. Mr. Basi was up to his eyeballs in the B.C. Rail deal, and it is inconceivable that the Finance minister did not know that.

           In fact, we know that Mr. Basi was directly involved in lobbying stakeholders — Colin Kinsley, the mayor of Prince George, to name one, as well as others — to support the Premier's broken promise. Will the Minister of Finance now admit that his chief political aide was directly involved in the sale of B.C. Rail and had access to confidential information?

           Hon. G. Collins: Mr. Speaker, if she checks the record from the end of December, she'll find the answers to those questions as well. As well, we talked about it yesterday in estimates for several hours, and I answered it as well.

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

           J. MacPhail: In fact, checking the record shows that this minister and this government said that Mr. Basi had nothing to do with the B.C. Rail deal. That's exactly what the Minister of Finance said.

           Another incredible statement yesterday by the Premier. The Premier said yesterday that the investigation has nothing to do with his government. If the matter weren't so serious, that statement would be laughable. The Premier also said that he would gladly run for re-election on his broken promise to sell B.C. Rail.

[ Page 8998 ]

           I can't wait. I wonder what part of the deal the Premier will feature in the ads — the broken promise, the criminal investigation, the stonewalling, the Finance minister. The Premier and the Finance minister know more than they're telling.

           Erik Bornman is a registered lobbyist for Omnitrax, and Mr. Bornman lists the Minister of Finance as one of his lobby targets.

           Interjections.

           Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order. Hon. member, may we have a question, please.

           J. MacPhail: Can the minister…

           Mr. Speaker: Now, please.

           J. MacPhail: …tell us if he ever met with Mr. Bornman, and who else was in the room?

           Hon. G. Collins: I never met with Erik Bornman. I'm sure the Premier will be thrilled to go to the public with that as an election issue — the fact that we revitalized B.C. Rail. Communities along….

           Interjection.

           Hon. G. Collins: Mr. Speaker, if she wants to ask a series of questions, she can get up and ask them in the normal order of the House. The fact of the matter is that I never met with him. How many times does she want to ask me that?

           The fact of the matter is that the Premier and every single member of our caucus will be excited about talking about the revitalization of B.C. Rail — as well as will all the mayors along the communities, as well as the mayor in Prince Rupert, as well as all the communities and all the jobs they're going to receive as a result of that action.

To be continued ...

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Comments:
That's a feeling of excitment which never materialized.

BC Rail has been, more than anything else, the 'symbol' of the this government.

As often as the Premier tries to wash his hands of this, even in the brackish waters of the Olympics, he's always going to be Lady Macbeth on this file - muttering, as he walks off the stage of politics into the history of the wholesale selloff of this province's future -
"Here's the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. O, O, O!"

I couldn't help but think of that as I watched Campbell, soiled hands hidden in red olympic mittens, frenetically cheering and waving 'his' games.

It won't work Gordon - whatever happens to Basi and Virk - thie will be your 'legacy'.
 
Thank you for this BC Mary. For the past hour and a half I've been reading Hansard, the one that you have a link to which also contains ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF FINANCE line 9039.

J. MacPhail is asking questions of the Hon. G. Collins on what he knew, and when in regards to the raid on the BC Legislature and the sale of BC Rail to CN.

Bornmann comes into the questioning by Joy MacPhail as to what Gary Collins knew about the lobbyist acting on behalf of Omnitrax..... with the bottom line being implied that Collins denying he didn't have any contact whatsoever with the lobbyist (after 2001), but the public is left with what appears to be that Dave Basi probably did have direct contact with Bornmannn because Collins Finance Ministry didn't keep any records of who visited his office for lobbying purposes.



What I did know was that only two offices were raided, Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, no other offices were raided but on line [1540] Joy MacPhail shouts out:

"Yes, it did....the computer systems"

to which Gary Collins replied: "Well, I don't think that was a public statement by the police at that time. The member may have been able to see with her crystal ball something different, but at that time that's what we all knew."

"J. MacPhail: The government knew about it."



A bit below line [1525]:

"Hon. G. Collins: I described, I think at length, yesterday the roles of each person in the office. I also explained at length yesterday the role that Mr. Penner is playing as parliamentary secretary to replace the duties of Mr. Basi."

Barry Penner taking an active part to replace Dave Basi is a new one on me. The link above is an official announcement from the Premier's Office date Feb 5, 2004


AND THEY'VE BEEN BUSY SHREDDING THE DOCUMENTS EVER SINCE.
 
Way to go NVG...and I think you're absolutely right about the shredding. As much as I'd like to flay Campbell for his ignorance and arrogance, and his total failure both as a leader, and a human being...we have to remember that his entire cabinet is as equally to blame as he is. What he didn't think of or do, they did.

They should to a person, lose every damn thing they have in this world, and have their names struck from any record book. Give them a reason for being called "the black hole of BC."

For a start.
 
I suppose Hansard can't be recalled from public viewing even if things said in it constitute "evidence" huh?

And just curious, G West, though I asked this on Tieleman's blog too - does a publication ban apply Canada-wide or does an edict from the Supreme Court of BC only have force in BC?
 
"They should to a person, lose every damn thing they have in this world, and have their names struck from any record book.

Wow there Leah, not from the criminal record book of convicted felons if justice should ever deign to show its face in British Columbia! Though I must admit the likelihood of that seems extremely remote - British Columbia the jurisdiction where justice dares not intrude!
 
meh...Koot...I guess if they did face justice and received what they deserve, the names could stay in that book.

Just got a better idea!

How about we publish every lie, corrupt twisting of law, every theft from the citizens of the Province and put it into a text book for high-schoolers. We could title it "The Gordon Campbell Government Wasn't Totally Useless After All - History Can Always Use Them as a Bad Example."

Or something like that.
 
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