Thursday, April 29, 2010


Witness list in Basi-Virk trial full of former ministers


Long-awaited BC Rail case set to cast shadow over Campbell’s first administration

Rod Mickleburgh

Globe and Mail - Wednesday, Apr. 28,

A who’s who of politicians, highly placed bureaucrats, back-room operatives and corporate executives has been subpoenaed to testify in a long-awaited political corruption case that continues to cast a shadow over the first administration of Premier Gordon Campbell.

Among those on the witness list are Mr. Campbell’s chief of staff, Martin Brown, two of the Premier’s former deputy ministers, Ken Dobell and Brenda Eaton, his former finance minister Gary Collins, and key federal Liberal strategist Mark Marissen.

The Crown’s roster of 44 witnesses was read to prospective jurors in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday, providing a tantalizing glimpse of what promises to be one of the most dramatic political trials in the province’s turbulent history. {Snip} ...

While individual premiers and cabinet ministers have been tried before in British Columbia, the Basi-Virk trial appears to cast a wider net than a single politician.

“Wow,” said veteran political commentator Norman Ruff, on hearing some of the names on the witness list. “Those are many of the central players in the first Campbell administration.

“That’s what makes this case so intriguing. It takes in the whole centre of the government. Look for it on the front page. It certainly won’t be dull.”

Also summoned to testify are Claude Mongeau, president and CEO of Canadian National Railway, and the former head of Canadian Pacific, Rob Ritchie.

Canadian Pacific pulled out of the bidding for BC Rail over stated concerns that the government had already decided to award the line to CN.

Judith Reid, provincial transportation minister at the time of the sale, is on the witness list as well.

It took two hours before a jury of seven men and five women was selected from a pool of 133 individuals, who crowded the courtroom, their summons in hand, to be scrutinized by lawyers for all sides in the case.

The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.

Presiding judge Anne MacKenzie, promoted earlier this week to Associate Chief Justice for the B.C. Supreme Court, has imposed a strict publication ban on proceedings, preventing the media from reporting any trial-related material that is not presented with the jury in the courtroom. {Snip ...}

BASI-VIRK - Crown to call staff, ex-cabinet ministers, appointees of Premier Gordon Campbell in BC Legislature Raid case

By Bill Tieleman
Read his column HERE.

Basi-Virk Special Prosecutor Janet Winteringham gave BC Supreme Court Justice Anne MacKenzie the Crown's list of 44 witnesses it intends to call in the corruption trial of three former BC Liberal government aides on Wednesday.

David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi all face trial beginning May 17 in connection with the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail in 2003. A police raid on the BC Legislature on December 28, 2003 was the first sign to the public of the major political scandal.

Former BC Liberal Finance Minister Gary Collins and former Transportation Minister Judith Reid, the current Chief of Staff to Premier Gordon Campbell - Martyn Brown, former BC Rail Chair John McLernon, federal Liberal Party operative Mark Marissen, former BC Liberal government deputy ministers Ken Dobell and Brenda Eaton, and former railway company executives among others.

The Crown's key witnesses, former BC lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran, are also listed.
{Snip} ...

I am travelling this week and was unable to attend the jury selection process.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Gary Collins and Judith Reid among 44 witnesses scheduled to take the stand at BC Rail trial


Former government ministers, insiders on witness list for legislature raid case

Tamsyn Burgmann, 
THE CANADIAN PRESS - April 28, 2010

VANCOUVER, B.C. - Two former B.C. government ministers are on a list of nearly four dozen high-profile witnesses slated to testify when the oft-stalled legislature raid trial finally gets underway later this month.

More than five years after RCMP showed up at the legislature with a search warrant, the accused officially entered guilty pleas in a B.C. Supreme Court room and a jury was selected Wednesday.

"It's going ahead," Michael Bolton, the defence lawyer for former government aide Dave Basi, said outside the court. Bolton said neither he nor his colleagues would be commenting further with the trial in sight.

Basi and Bobby Virk are charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes over allegations they accepted money and other benefits in exchange for leaking information about the $1-billion sale of Crown-owned BC Rail to Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR).

Basi worked for then-finance minister Gary Collins, while Virk worked for then-transportation minister Judith Reid. Basi's cousin Aneal Basi, a government communications officer, is charged with money laundering.

Collins and Reid are among the 44 witnesses scheduled to take the stand when the six-week trial starts on May 17.

The case that has cast a shadow over the B.C. Liberal government and its privatization of the Crown railway began in late December 2003, when RCMP arrived at the legislature and seized boxes of documents from the offices of Basi and Virk.

The Crown alleges the two sold confidential documents about BC Rail to a lobbyist for one of three bidders vying for the Crown corporation at the time, Denver-based OmniTRAX.

Former employees of lobby firm Pilothouse Public Affairs Group, Brian Kieran and Erik Bornman, are also on the list of witnesses and are expected to give key testimony.

Premier Gordon Campbell's chief political strategist, Martin Brown, and his former deputy ministers, Brenda Eaton and Ken Dobell, are also on the witness list read to prospective jurors on Wednesday. So are CN Rail CEO Claude Mongeau, former CP Rail CEO Bob Ritchie and OmniTrax executives.

The accused men, who have remained free without being required to post bail, entered their pleas before Justice Anne Mackenzie in booming voices.

They opted for a jury trial in February after previously requesting a trial by judge alone. A panel of five women, seven men were chosen to sit on the jury that will hear the case.

The complex case has taken years to wind through the legal system as the defence lawyers sought almost a million pages in disclosure documents, including emails, from the government.

In selecting the jury, Mackenzie acknowledged to the courtroom full of jurors that the case has had wide media attention, and she asked that if anyone felt they could not be impartial, they should inform the court. At least one person did so.



Robin Mathews as the BC Rail trial begins

A Little Time in Courtroom 55,  April 28, 2010

By Robin Mathews

Courtroom 55 was packed today, standing room only - probably about 160 people, present for the process of jury selection.  The three accused in the case Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, and Aneal Basi were present and replied clearly "Not Guilty" as the charges were read by the court clerk. 

With the presentation of charges and the response of the accused, their counsel standing close by, the trial - so long awaited - in the BC Rail Scandal ... began... in fact. 

Associate Chief Justice Madam Anne MacKenzie counselled the assembled potential jurors that the trial is estimated (roughly) to last six weeks ... but might run a few more.  It is presently scheduled to begin May 17. Since the date has been changed countless times over the more than three years of pre-trial hearings, the beginning date may, of course, change again.

Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie, elevated to that position only days ago, appears to be ready to continue with the trial. Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett - upon being raised to the Appeals Court after nearly three years of pre-trial presidence - was removed or removed herself last Fall from the BC Rail Scandal case. Today - in the court lists - Justice Bennett was presiding at a Supreme Court (not an Appeals Court) procedure.

In my mind, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie will not have an easy time with the trial.  To begin, her arrival took place under less than triumphant circumstances. The vacating of the position by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett did not meet with universal approval.

In addition, recent actions of Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie have brought forward (to me, at least) questions of competence. The first publication ban announcement provided for a ban on and through the trial - an almost unheard of situation in Canadian experience.  The trial is THE OPEN COURT enactment of the administration of justice in our system.  To announce a publication ban on the trial could only have been an error - which should not have occurred.

Then in a recent hearing (involving Mr. Webster) the doors to the courtroom were closed and locked to the public without apparent reason or any announcement by Justice MacKenzie. Since a publication ban is sufficient (and it was in place) the transformation of the procedure into an 'in camera' event can be neither explained nor defended, I believe.

Finally, the question of the acceptability of the Special Crown Prosecutor to proceed with the trial has not gone away.  I believe I presented Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie (twice) with formal notice of reasons the Special Crown Prosecutor should be removed from the Basi, Virk, and Basi case (as being improperly appointed by a ministry with an "interested" Attorney General and an "interested" deputy Attorney General - both of whom had been long-time partners and colleagues of the person appointed as Special Crown Prosecutor.)

The only response to my (first) letter was a bland statement of disconnection to the situation, written by an agent of the Court judges addressed.  My second letter on the matter has gone unanswered.

Pre-trial actions by (now) Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie have not been reassuring. She will be under a microscope as the "trial proper" unfolds.




Basis, Virk plead not guilty in B.C. Rail case

 By Keith Fraser,
The Province - April 28, 2010

The three men accused in the Basi-Virk case pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the charges they face in connection with the controversial sale of B.C. Rail.

David Basi, Bobby Virk and Basi's cousin Aneal Basi entered the pleas just prior to the start of jury selection in a Vancouver courtroom.

Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie told prospective jurors in the packed courtroom that the case had received some media coverage and if they felt they could not be impartial, they should not sit as jurors.

David Basi and Virk, former government aides, are charged with fraud and breach of trust. Aneal Basi is charged with money laundering. {SNIP} ...

© Copyright (c) The Province

Pleas entered as jury selection for the B.C. Rail case gets underway
Vancouver, BC
— The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail
Apr. 28, 2010

The three men who face charges after the 2003 RCMP raid on the B.C. legislature have officially pleaded not guilty to corruption and money laundering charges and jury selection is underway.

Former B.C. government aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk face charges including fraud and accepting bribes for allegedly selling government secrets related to the sale of Crown-owned BC Rail to CN Rail.

Aneal Basi — Dave Basi's cousin — is also charged with money laundering.

All three men stood and entered pleas in booming voices prior to the start of jury selection.

They have opted for a jury trial, rather than trial by judge alone as they originally elected.

The trial is slated to begin May 17, and last at least six weeks.

Jury selection finally underway in Basi-Virk trial

Nafeesa Karim 

Jury selection is underway at the trial of former government aides charged in connection with the sale of BC Rail.

A couple of hundred people are jam-packed into a BC Supreme courtroom as lawyers whittle the crowd down to 12 jurors and two alternates.

So far former government aids [sic] Dave Basi and Bobby Virk have pleaded not guilty to ten charges of breach of trust and fraud.

Basi's cousin Aneal Basi has pleaded not guilty to money-laundering.

With the amount of publicity the case has received, the judge has warned potential jurors they should not sit on the jury if they can not be impartial. {Snip} ...



Basi Virk confirmed: today (April 28) at 10:00 AM

File 23299 is included in today's BC Supreme Court events.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Basi Virk trial: yesterday and tomorrow

Reminder:  according to the

Public Access Completed Supreme Court List (Adult) 
for files appearing 26 APR 2010 
(see pages 23, 24)

Yesterday, in BC Supreme Court, it was recorded that the curtain will go up again on that long-running Gong Show (File #23299) at 10:00 AM on April 28, 2010, in Courtroom 53, for the next Basi-Virk Pre-Trial Hearing. Everybody welcome.

 Now, the media  performance: 

The Province - April 26, 2010
To read the article, click HERE.


Times Colonist - April 27, 2010

Read it HERE.


The Province - April 27, 2010
 Read it HERE.

Vancouver Sun - April 27, 2010
Same as Times Colonist entry (above).

And then there are the old documents which take on added meaning in the light of new ... um, er ... developments, is that the word? Developments?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Part IV - Notice of Application for Disclosure

By Anonymous

On Sunday we paused our exploration of the defence version of the BC Rail case at paragraph 41. The government of the day has just accepted a bid from CN for the purchase of our B.C. Rail asset; a big chunk of public property and, coincidentally or not, an enormous player in the industrial economy of the province and a potential future player in the public transportation infrastructure has been lost to this province. This happened, as we have already seen, because of a process that, at the very least, has been called into serious question.

I do not intend to get into the details of the 'sale' again at this time. Those who wish to do so can read back over paragraphs 30 - 41 to refresh their memory about what the lawyers for the defendants have said about the 'process'. Suffice to say that, if these allegations and the evidence from the RCMP wiretaps can be sustained in court, there is a strong indication that the 'sale' of B.C. Rail was not an arm's-length commercial transaction. In fact, there is at least the appearance that this was not a legitimate tender and bid process at all. In fact, as much as this case has been characterized as the Basi case, the name it was given last fall - the B.C.Rail case - is far more appropriate.

As we move on to the narrative of events from November 25, 2003 until just prior to the notorious Raid on the Legislature of December 28, readers will encounter some new characters. By the end of this story - that is, by the time we've completed the tour of the Application's “Introduction”, we're going to need a dance card to list all the players.

Immediately after the public announcement that CN was the successful 'bidder' for the spoils of BC Rail, it seems that Finance Minister Collins looked at his day-timer and decided that OmniTRAX was his next priority.

Paragraph 42 - 43 tell us that between November 28, 2003 and December 8, 2003 the RCMP learned, two “… OmniTRAX Executives Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson were going to meet with Minister Collins.” We're told that the meeting is to take place on December 12 at the Villa Del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver. In ¶ 44 we learn this set into motion an elaborate surveillance operation and in ¶ 45 and ¶ 46 we learn why:

¶ 45. The intercepted communication in which Mr. Basi advised Mr. Virk that Minister Collins authorized the Consolation Prize was of substantial significance in respect of whether any criminal wrongdoing could be attributable to Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk.

¶ 46. The RCMP were aware that if Mr. Collins met privately with the OmniTRAX Executives, that this tended to significantly corroborate Mr. Basi's previous advice to Mr. Virk that Minister Collins had approved the Consolation Prize.

And the narrative goes on:

¶ 47. The RCMP were aware that Mr. Virk dealt directly with Minister Collins on the sale of B.C. Rail. To that end, it would make no sense for Mr. Basi to deceive Mr. Virk with respect to Minister Collins' position on the Consolation Prize. The RCMP were also acutely aware that it would make no sense for Mr. Basi to advise OmniTRAX that Minister Collins had authorized the Consolation Prize, and then organize a private meeting between those parties, if that were not the case.

A quick word of caution here: It is important to remember, again, that this is the defence version of events and is, in the nature of its implications only plausible if one accepts the 'theory' the defence is putting forward. These conclusions may well be valid - but they have not yet been tested before a judge. They are only theories at this point. And the use of the phrase 'it would make no sense' is highly suspect and requires the reader to draw conclusions that may be unwarranted.

In any case, a meeting between Mr Collins and two OmniTRAX executives did take place. One can imagine the dramatic possibilities this little meal holds for future exploitation. Let's continue.

¶ 48. On December 12, 2003, Minister Collins in fact met with the OmniTRAX Executives privately at Villa Del Lupo restaurant, wherein the RCMP engaged in a massive surveillance operation to document this meeting. The surveillance included undercover operatives both inside and outside the restaurant and extensive video surveillance and tracking of the parties.

The next section of this story concerns complicated issues and the numerous personalities of several additional individuals as we take the story from that fine dining experience.

Just as a final toast, here's a little blurb about Villa Del Lupo from the restaurant's website:

"Tucked away in a discrete, private setting in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Villa del Lupo offers an unparalleled dining experience. Situated in an ornate heritage mansion, the restaurant boasts a charming and engaging atmosphere that makes guests feel at ease. A visit to the 'House of the Wolf' is like taking a sensory trip into the glory days of a bygone era, an environment that combines the rustic charm of an old world European villa and a 30's-style speakeasy with the swank sophistication of modern technique.

"Villa del Lupo has cultivated a loyal following by consistently delivering a dining experience that remains unsurpassed for over fifteen years, constantly providing a veritable feast for the senses. Skillfully combining prompt, knowledgeable service with an extensive award-winning wine list and a menu that will feed not only the body but the soul, you will find your every desire satiated by the 'House of the Wolf'."

Somehow it seems apt.


Monday, April 26, 2010


MacKenzie? Gone from Basi-Virk? The New ACJ?

Holy crap, I mean, come on ... this stunning maneuver is announced today by  the Prime Minister's office, just as the BC Rail / Basi-Virk-Basi pre-trial hearing gets under way and the actual trial looms ... ?

Seeing is believing (sorta); see for yourselves what the PMO says HERE ...


26 APRIL 2010
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the appointment of the Honourable Anne W. MacKenzie, a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, as Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.  She replaces the Honourable Justice Patrick Dohm, who retired on April 16.

After receiving a bachelor of arts degree from the University of British Columbia in 1973, Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie completed a bachelor of laws in 1977.  She was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1978.  In 1990, she was appointed to the Provincial Court of British Columbia, and was elevated to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1996.

Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie is an active and long-time member of the British Columbia Supreme Court’s Criminal Law Committee, and has served on the Executive Committee of the Court. She has participated regularly in the Court’s annual education programs, trial advocacy and Continuing Legal Education programs. In addition, she regularly presides over French language trials.

This appointment is effective immediately.


And Canadian Press says: 

Legislature raid judge promoted to associate justice of B.C. Supreme Court

April 26, 2010
VANCOUVER, B.C. - The B.C. Supreme Court judge shepherding the long-delayed B.C. Rail corruption case to trial has been promoted, but that won't affect her handling of proceedings due to begin next month.

Judge Anne MacKenzie has been named associate chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court.

{Snip} ... 

MacKenzie has served on B.C. Supreme Court since 1996 and sat as a provincial court judge for six years before that appointment.

When Judge Elizabeth Bennett was elevated to the B.C. Court of Appeal, MacKenzie took over the legislature raid case involving government employees Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, Aneal Basi and the sale of B.C. Rail.

Legislature raid judge promoted to associate justice of B.C. Supreme Court

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The B.C. Supreme Court judge shepherding the long-delayed B.C. Rail corruption case to trial has been promoted, but that won't affect her handling of proceedings due to begin next month.

Judge Anne MacKenzie has been named associate chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court.

The Prime Minister's Office announced the appointment Monday morning.

MacKenzie replaces Judge Patrick Dohm, who retired just over one week ago
{Snip} ...

When Judge Elizabeth Bennett was elevated to the B.C. Court of Appeal, MacKenzie took over the legislature raid case involving government employees Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, Aneal Basi and the sale of B.C. Rail.

Some things bear repeating, such as this comment from Skookum1:


Well, we know former ACJ Dohm can't intervene now to ruminate from the bench as to whether or not the new ACJ MacKenzie should be removed from the case, as he did with Justice Bennett. And new ACJ MacKenzie isn't in a position to ruminate on herself (though perhaps she should...).

I think we all have to dread now who will be appointed next, and what new tone the trial will take when that happens.

And the nature of the relationship between the Harper Tories and the Campbell Liberals should come under much closer scrutiny than we've gotten into before. Not that the federal Liberals would be any less in lockstep with the desires of His Gordoship.

"Transparency in government" only makes sense as Campbell's promise if "transparent" is taken to mean "bald-faced".

It's interesting the contrast in how Quebec is dealing with its own corruption scandal right now; I'll see if I can find some news links for comparison.

That big Gala Dinner hoo-hah with its theme of "confidence in the justice system" is pretty ironic, given this latest turn of events, which does anything but bolster confidence in BC's courts. Or the impartiality and altruistic motives of its justices, and those who appoint them.



Confirmed: Virk-Basi today at 10:00 AM

Another Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) for Case #23299 is listed on the official BC Supreme Court's public access web-site for today, April 26, 2010 at 10:00 AM.

Open to the public at 800 Smythe Street, Vancouver, B.C. 


Friday, April 23, 2010


Farmers, local governments call for better rail service in the Peace. "Right now, Dawson Creek is like a dead-end road on CN Rail," said the mayor ...

By Matthew Bains

Northeast News - April 22, 2010, P.12
Reprinted by kind permission of
Melanie Robinson, editor

DAWSON CREEK - Farmers and local government officials in the South Peace are not pleased with the quality of rail service offered by Canadian National.

Garnet Berge, area director for BC Grain Producers Association, said he is part of a committee looking at transportation issues affecting farmers. He said he is concerned about what he said is the deterioration of the line between Dawson Creek and Chetwynd.

"We're getting a little worried that if CN don't upgrade that line or keep it maintained from Chetwynd to Dawson Creek, we might lose that, and if we do, we'll be trucking our grain to Rycroft or Spirit River which we don't want to do ... "

He said that rail is the most efficient and cost-effective way for farmers to ship their products, but that there is no alternative besides CN and he said that the service is poor.

"It's car service," said Berge. "They'll come in and drop cars off on a Friday at 4:00 PM, and the elevators in the winter aren't really open, but they'll want them [the cars] loaded that weekend.  Then CN doesn't show up until Monday morning and the guys in the meantime have worked overtime to load all these cars up ... "

The Peace River Regional District also has concerns and have made a joint submission with their local  government counterparts in the Alberta Peace Region to a Rail Service Review Panel [see below] initiated by the federal Ministry of Transportation. Dawson Creek mayor Mike Bernier worked with Charles Johnson, councillor for Clear Hills County, on that submission.

Bernier said that one of their concerns was the state of the line between Dawson Creek and Hythe, Alberta. He said he was under the impression that when BC Rail was sold to CN, part of that agreement stipulated that line was to stay open for 5 years" [YooHoo, Mr Krog, BC Opposition Justice Critic?! What did we tell you, last July 14, 2009? And what did you do? Nothing. - BC Mary.]
"However, upgrades were never done and the train trestles were allowed to deteriorate, making the line unusable.

"Right now, Dawson Creek is like a dead-end road on CN Rail," said the mayor. "We can't get all the people in Grande Prairie, Rycroft, and Spirit River -- all of them who have grain -- have to drive it from their locations to Dawson Creek to put it on our rail cars."

He said with upgrades to the rail lines in the Peace, the region could utilize the expanded port capacities at the terminal at Prince Rupert via the inland container port in Prince George.  He added rail would be significantly beneficial to the entire northeast region ...

He said investments in rail lines need to be made now instead of waiting for them to get to the point where CN would just shut them down.

"We've got one of the biggest agricultural hubs in British Columbia and Alberta," he said. "We're trying to make sure that it [gets] their attention now and not waiting until it deteriorates any more."

CN could not be reached for comment at press time.  

I looked up the biographies of the 3 men selected for the Rail Service Panel Review.


... Mr. Edison was appointed vice-president, Corporate, in July 2003 and led Canadian National Railway's consolidation and integration of the Canadian National Railway and BC Rail partnership. These responsibilities included train service adjustment, realignment of rail yards in North Vancouver, Squamish and Prince George, reconnection of Canadian National's Hythe-Dawson Creek line and workforce planning.

Prior to his retirement in late 2004, Mr. Edison was active on the boards of the Western Transportation Advisory Council, the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council and the Business Council of British Columbia.

Mr. Edison resides in Surrey, British Columbia.
BC Mary comment:  So, realistically speaking, should anyone expect that Mr Edison would agree with the farmers and others in the Peace River territory that there's any fault with the work he himself oversaw in the Hythe-Dawson Creek line?

Should the people of The Peace point out, without delay, that there may be a hopeless conflict of interest in this procedure??


I'd like to add two things.

* These kinds of default on the part of CN are deal-breakers, in my view. They provide reasonable grounds for BC Rail to repossess the line.

* An Opposition worthy of the name would be pressing the government to insist that CN fulfill its obligations to the people of the province [Hi, Mr Krog?] or, failing that, pressing the government to begin action to take back ownership of the railway operation.

Sincere thanks to Northeast News, published at Fort St John and Dawson Creek, B.C., for their informative report.



Dohm steps down. Now what?

This week's Friday afternoon surprise news announcement:  Associate Chief Justice of the BC Supreme Court, Patrick Dohm, has  resigned. At age 75, he has retired.

ACJ Dohm, behind the scenes, has played many a riveting role in BC history. In the BC Rail Case, it was he who signed off on the Search Warrants for the police raid on the offices of Dave Basi and Bobby Virk in the BC Legislature. Then it was Dohm  himself (apparently) who went through the 32 boxes of seized documents to decide which were "privileged" and couldn't be shown to the public.

At other times, ACJ Dohm took a starring role at centre stage ... such as in the dramatic and disturbing courtroom scene where he announced (almost over her head) the immediate removal of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett from the BC Rail Case.Robin Mathews, in a letter to the BC Attorney General dated January 7, 2010, wrote about it as follows:

... 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”.

Now Patrick Dohm is gone from BC Supreme Court. Today's story is outlined HERE. But Mr Dohm is well worth a few googles too.  

We must wonder: who will replace him? And what will it mean for the Basi-Virk trial beginning May 3, 2010?

Am I the only one who has sensed the presence of ACJ Patrick Dohm behind some of the actions of Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie -- presumably Dohm's  nominee for this job? - BC Mary.


Thursday, April 22, 2010



My dear friends,

Earlier today (Thursday, April 22), I checked the completed BC Supreme Court Listings  and saw that the Basi, Virk Defence had made an application on April 21, 2010 for a Stay of Proceedings "pursuant to S.24(1) on the basis of a breach of S. 11 (b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

This was repeated 3 times, which I believe indicated that the application was being made on behalf of three people: Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi, Bobby Singh Virk, and Aneal Singh Basi.

With a next appearance scheduled for a Pre-Trial Conference at 10:00 AM on April 26 (next Monday), one might assume, that the Defence Application for a Stay of Proceedings would be considered ... perhaps even ruled upon ... at that time.  In an open courtroom. With the public in attendance.

I'll keep my notes about what I saw earlier today. I'll have them laminated. I'll have them framed.  Because I swear, this ... this sudden and apparently secret maneuver  must surely be an offence under the terms of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 For Files Appearing on 21-APR-2010

On 2nd thought, I had another long look at that Completed BC Supreme Court list. I started at Page 1 (of 40 pages) of

Vancouver Law Courts
Public Access Completed Supreme Court List (Adult)
For Files appearing on 20 April 2010

and went through it carefully. I found many entries for Aneal Basi, Bobby Virk, and Limited Access (Dave Basi), with appearances on 21 April and anticipated on 26 April and May 3 as well as May 17.

So it does look as if we're still chugging along.

The term "adjourn" begins to make sense when I read the segment about the witness, Ian Munro:


Ian Munro, Witness from Nova Scotia, Halifax, give evidence by means of technology that permits him to testify in Nova Scotia in Virtual presence of the parties and the Court.

It appears that Ian Munro will give his evidence on May 3, 2010 ... and that the trial is then "adjourned" until May 17 (for reasons unknown).

Not until we get to page 38 does the "Stay of Proceedings" appear and I must have jumped to the conclusion that it would be an application by the Defence for a stay. Although it doesn't actually say that. It just says "Stay of Proceedings pursuant to S. 24(1) etc. ..."

So my conclusion is: a Stay of Proceedings is being sought ... so it presumably would begin with an application to be heard by Justice MacKenzie on Monday, April 26 at 10:00 AM. , as I had first thought.

However, there's a lot to figure out, in those 40 pages.  I hope others will give it their attention and let us know how you see the present situation.

Completed Court Listings can be found by starting out along the same route as daily court schedules:

* BC Criminal Charges (left margin), then

* Public Access Completed Supreme Court List (Adult)

* Vancouver Law Courts

The main thing is: I don't think there has been a Stay of Proceedings granted in this case. Not yet, anyway. 

And that's a huge relief.  - BC Mary.



Basi-Virk? Not today, apparently ...

BC Supreme Court listings for today, April 22, 2010, shows no listing for Basi, Virk, or Basi (Case No. 23299). 

Does this mean that there are no discussions ongoing? Not even in the judge's chambers?

We don't know.

We don't know because there's a special Publication Ban laid on this case by the presiding judge: Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie.

You can see her ruling HERE, as well as her corrected version.

And you can see the chilling effects of her cockeyed ruling almost everywhere you look in the news media -- that is to say, you won't find any mention whatsoever of the Basi-Virk case -- except for Bill Tieleman's blog and BC Mary's blog.

The judge provides no reason for this publication ban ... and I believe that any  law, any judicial ruling should be crystal clear for public understanding and acceptance.

But this is not the case with Madam MacKenzie's ruling. On the contrary, this ruling has baffled and inhibited even the professional journalists.

Have we seen a report by Keith Fraser after he was confronted by that locked Courtroom door on April 15? No, we haven't.* Why? That's what I am trying to understand.

Robin Mathews did report on it and declares that by stepping carefully, we can safely cross the ban and discuss the people's business. But should we need to approach the topic of BC Rail with fear and trembling?

Why should our legitimate public concern suddenly be viewed as risky? and  law-abiding citizens be viewed with such suspicion?

It's as if we, the public, are guilty unless somehow proven innocent of a crime we don't even know about.  With every fibre of my British Columbia being, I object to that insult.

I would like to ask the judge: have you found that the people of B.C. are trying to influence the trial process? or the verdict? or the jury?

Going by what people say on this blog, I believe that no, you haven't found such a thing. People on this blog are, in my view, trying their best to understand this trial. That's what dutiful citizens do. That, Madam Justice, should be encouraged. 

I would also suggest to the judge that she  work with us ... not against us ...

It was our railway, remember? The Accused and their bosses were our employees, remember? As are you.

As for who's paying the cost, Case No. 23299 is our trial, too. Ours.

Ours to watch over until, in the end, the BC Rail trial should fulfill its own special duty by enabling us to feel that justice has been done.

Therefore, in my view, those Courtroom doors should be wide open, with reporting un-blocked and encouraged.

- BC Mary

* There's a very brief report by Keith Fraser in The Province for today, April 22, 2010 HERE

Bill Tieleman's report is HERE.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Pssst ... something's happening in BCSC today ... is it BC Rail?

I profoundly disagree ... but today I accept the interpretation of a well-informed British Columbian as to what BC Supreme Court Justice Anne MacKenzie means by her publication ban over the You-Know-What-Trial. Today I will follow my honoured mentor's advice. Here goes:

Today, April 21, 2010, there's a listing on the official BC Supreme Court schedule which all British Columbians should know about but I'm not allowed to say what it is. And no, I am not kidding.

I believe I am obeying the intent of the MacKenzie ban that I urge everyone -- everyone -- to check today's court listing and see some familiar names and one startling new one.  Here's the drill:

Go to the left margin of this page. Under LINKS, find "BC Criminal Courts". Click on. Then click on these 3 more things (in pdf):

* Daily court lists - criminal
* Adult Supreme Court Lists
* Vancouver Law Courts - Supreme Court List

The first two pages of the 7 pages are what concerns us today, in this publication ban. And since the BC Supreme Court created the public listing, I must have faith that it's permissible for any member of the public to read the damn thing. 

But remember: if you attend this conference at 10:00 AM, you must not tell us about it. My friend assures me that there's a publication ban over all this. OK?

Despite my own reaction to something which seems so disrespectful of the public interest, I give my special, sincere Thanks to my honoured mentor who tried so hard to explain this to me.

I'm sure we'll all sleep more soundly in our beds tonight, having maintained our silence today.

- BC Mary.

Some things do bear repeating ... such as this comment from G West today:

I agree Mary. This is way tooooooooo important for those of us out here in the boondocks who have followed (as much as we're able) every twist and turn of this case to pretend we're now 'okay' with locked doors and self-throttling 'reporters'.

It's just NOT GOOD ENOUGH and there are way too many questions - many asked by Robin Mathews and yourself - which need to be explored for us to all just shut up in the interim.

We can't report on what's happening behind those doors but we sure as hell can discuss what's already happened; what we already know and what we may legitimately extrapolate from that knowledge.

Justice is, or should be, a vital living thing - it can't survive with a bag over its head.

I think we need to get that debate going again - even if it amounts to nothing more than an academic exercise which starts out by looking at Madame Justice Mackenzie's actions in the context of other similar cases and judicial precedent.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Basi-Virk in BC Supreme Court today

Confirmed in today's BCSC listings: Basi, Virk, Basi at 10:00 AM.

No mention of locked Courtroom doors, so we may assume that the people's court is open to the public today April 20, 2010.


Monday, April 19, 2010


Racism. Gordon Campbell's BC Rail Scandal

By Robin Mathews

The ‘No No’ word in the BC Rail Scandal – Racism - has to be looked at. It must be, because it is so totally rejected by “important” people.  [The “Scandal” refers to the corrupt transfer by the Gordon Campbell government of BC Rail to CNR.]                                                                  

The tiniest tip of the iceberg is the up-coming trial of three former cabinet aides – charged (variously) with fourteen counts of fraud, breach of trust, and money laundering.  Investigations were on foot as early as 2002.  Legislature offices of the later-accused were the only ones subjected to search warrant ‘raids’ on December 28, 2003. The accused were charged after yet another year of investigation – in December 2004.

The charges all relate to the BC Rail Scandal – directly.

Offices of the direct bosses of the men accused were untouched in the searches of legislature offices.  The offices of Gordon Campbell, chief architect of the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to CNR, were left in their pristine purity. Through all the investigation, no one else has been alleged to have engaged in wrongful activity.

One has to remember, of course, that from the earliest moment, the RCMP announced that no elected official was under [or would be under] investigation.  Years (literally) of investigation of alleged crimes directly involving the BC Rail Scandal by-passed – carefully avoiding - involved politicians, corporation officers, and the platoons of civil servants at work to effect the tainted “sale” of BC Rail. ALL the effort, apparently, was undertaken to fasten on three men, the accused in the case. 

They make up “the tiniest tip” of the iceberg. The huge, portion hid from view, I believe, involves corporate and government wheelers and dealers who are being shielded from investigation – and have been from the beginning. 

The one word that has been unspoken, and to people like RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass is “unspeakable” in the case is the word ‘Racism’.

The three accused men, you see, are Sikhs.

No ‘white’ person has been charged.

Indeed, what would be a hilarious development (if it weren’t so serious) is that the key Crown witness in the case, lily-white Eric Bornmann, Liberal operative, lobbyist, etc. was, allegedly, an active participant in the key allegation of bribe-offered and bribe-received.  He was extracted from the action, given blanket immunity it seems, and will testify at the trial. 

When I wrote to RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass asking for an RCMP investigation of Gordon Campbell and associates in the transfer of BC Rail to CNR, he refused. (And in refusing, I believe, is derelict in his duty to justice and the people of British Columbia.) The only part of my letter to him that brought Deputy Commissioner Bass to emotional speech was the suggestion that the accused men might be the victims of Racism. 

I think the response of Bass reveals touchiness on the subject, perhaps … possibly because he knows or suspects that the targetting of the three accused does, in fact, involve racism. 

In my view, Deputy Commissioner Bass is a large part of the iceberg invisible under the water in the BC Rail Scandal.  His failure to undertake full and open investigation of Gordon Campbell and associates in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR is of cardinal importance.  And, alas, Mr. Bass does not have a fine reputation.  If one looks only at the Robert Dziekanski case, Mr. Bass had to have assented to the alleged false reporting on the events at Vancouver International Airport when Robert Dziekanski was allegedly killed by RCMP officers.  As top B.C. officer, he had to be a part of an alleged cover-up that has shaken confidence in the RCMP across the nation.

Deputy Commissioner Bass comes to us in B.C. from strange origins, moreover. He was a favourite of disgraced former RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli.  One remembers that Zaccardelli was forced to resign the top job in a hail of allegations.  One of the funniest [though appalling as well] occurred in Parliamentary Committee when a committee member asked Zaccardelli if he had perjured himself this time – or was it last time when his tailored story was totally different! Alleged perjury?  From the top police officer in Canada?

Zaccardelli appointed his favourites to top jobs, we are told. The favourites recognized themselves so clearly, [Paul Palango, Dispersing the Fog, Key Porter, 2008] they apparently called themselves (after Zaccardelli’s old division) ‘the J Division mafia’.  The appointment of Gary Bass as assistant commissioner in B.C. is referred to by Palango as “incestuousness” (p. 24).

As if to poison any attempt to see him in virtuous terms, Bass responded to RCMP Commissioner William Elliott regarding Dziekanski.  With imprudence of a kind one might expect from Robert Mugabe, Elliott had telephoned the four RCMP officers involved in the death of Dziekanski to express his support!!  The reply Bass sent was that the calls by  Commissioner Elliott “were a big hit” at the Richmond detachment where the four men were employed!

Such behaviour cannot be believed – except it is on the record.  As is the chummy conversation Bass had at the time with premier Gordon Campbell who also expressed support for the officers – who were plainly engaged in behaviour of the most questionable kind!

I have no record of Deputy Commissioner Bass saying, at any time, that there is zero tolerance in his Division for improper violence – though examples of alleged cover-up of such behaviour under his watch are there to examine.

When I mentioned racism to him in connection with the charges against Basi, Virk, and Basi, Mr. Bass recoiled.  But the likelihood increases. 

‘White’ Special Crown Prosecutor William Berardino was appointed in violation of all the legislation covering the role.  Neither the Attorney General nor the top officers of the Supreme Court will act in the matter or recognize its importance.

‘White’ cabinet ministers vacated their jobs in 2005 perfectly innocently … when the BC Rail Scandal was getting hot.  Deputy premier Christie Clark, Attorney General Geoff Plant [whose ministry had wrongfully appointed William Berardino], Gary Collins, finance minister – deep in the BC Rail fiasco, Judith Reid, transportation minister.  All were among the leavers.  None has been investigated since the legislature raids of 2003.

The list of people outside the legislature “searched” as a result of search warrants issued (December 28, 2003) is long.  The warrants have never been fully opened – which is not usual practice.  When they were, finally, partially opened in 2004, the only people whose search warrants were completely unsealed were the not-yet, at the time, accused Sikhs.  All the ‘white’ folk continued to be – strangely and especially – protected.

Racism?  Or something else?  I don’t know what to conclude.  What do you conclude?



Just like BC Rail ...

HST And The Crack In The Door

By Peter Ewart
Opinion 250 - April 19, 2010

... But there is something else that is eating away at the credibility of the government in regards to the HST. And that is the method by which it was brought in. It is here that the government is weakest, its arguments most feeble and illogical.

Prior to and during the provincial election in May of 2009, the Campbell government made no bones about it – BC Liberals were steadfastly against the HST. And the Liberals won the election ...

Just a couple of months later, BC voters woke up one day to hear this same Liberal government announce that ... it would, indeed, be bringing in the dreaded HST. All of this was done in such a tawdry, slipshod way - arrogance breeds its own clumsy style – as if the government knew that it would, once again, get away with, not just breaking, but smashing to smithereens another election promise.

Just like it got away with the controversial sale of BC Rail after promising – again, before an election – that it wouldn’t sell the railway. But history has its own cunning. Like that hornet’s nest under the pile of lumber in the backyard, the BC Rail scandal won’t disappear no matter how much water is squirted on it. In early May, the trial of the political aides charged with breach of trust is scheduled to begin, and who knows which government leader or minister could get stung by a soggy, wayward hornet ...

Peter Ewart's full column is HERE.


Thursday, April 15, 2010


Basi Virk in BC Supreme Court today ... unexpectedly!

Case No. 23299
HMTQ v. Basi, Virk, Basi
Pre-Trial Hearing
10:00 AM today, April 15, 2010

Unexpectedly - except for those who check the Supreme Court's criminal trial listings every day - there's another Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) this very day at 800 Smythe Street, Vancouver. Presiding judge: Anne MacKenzie.
Charges listed on today's BC Supreme Court calendar are the old ones: Accepting bribe, Breach of Trust, Fraud. 

As usual, we are left wondering w.t.f. is up with this unexpected gathering today ... with Jury selections expected to begin in only 6 more days ... on April 21 (to be confirmed, of course).

Of course, of course there's nothin' to worry about, folks ... so we'll sit quietly (bags over heads) a while longer ...

- BC Mary


Update: But those who trusted the BC Supreme Court listing for Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 10:00 AM found the door to Courtroom 53 virtually slammed in their faces. 

If there is any justification for this affront to the public interest, let the "Reason For ..." be included in the court listings. Or let the "Reason for ... " be explained by a judicial note on that closed courtroom door. 

Or (gasp!) let the facts be known by means of a press release. Anything but a door slammed in the public's face. 

But to announce a Pre-Trial Conference on a trial as important as the BC Rail Trial -- and then lock the public out -- demeans the court. This, in my view,  brings BC Supreme Court down to a level which does not inspire respect or confidence. 

I don't know the word for this disdainful attitude which says: "Look at us, we can do whatever we please, whenever (if ever) we please, for as long as we please. We'll explain nothing to the public. Got it?"

What's the word for that? What kind of court is that?

Because BC Supreme Court does need to explain. Must we keep trying to remind the courts that the citizens of British Columbia once owned BC Rail? That the public has a right and a duty to know what happened to BC Rail? And that, by the way, the BC public is paying the cost of having a judiciary trying to find out what happened to BC Rail?

Is BC Supreme Court really -- in broad daylight -- trying to convey the view that we, the people, are ... phttt ... without significance in the justice system we support?  - BC Mary.


No Time In Courtroom 53.

By Robin Mathews 
April 15, 2010

The announcement was that an application would be made at ten in the morning in courtroom 53 concerning the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter.  I went to the Law Courts.  Fortunately, I went for another reason to be in the Law Courts. 

Fortunately, because there was nothing in the announcement saying the event would be in camera (secret). It was. Without any prior notice.

[I think the failure to inform British Columbians that an announced hearing was, in fact, closed and secret characterizes (at the very least) the sloppy contempt the Supreme Court has for the people it serves.]

I believe I saw Mr. Webster climbing the stairs to courtroom 53.  He is the lawyer nominated by the court to read through [thousands of pages of] disclosure-sought materials in order to report upon their likely relevance to the defence of the accused in the Basi,Virk, and Basi matter.  He reports to the court, and the court looks at what he has selected to make a final decision about relevance.

That process was one that helped slowly and starkly and dramatically to pull many superiors of the three accused and many other related people into the orbit of the Basi, Virk, and Basi case – opening questions about their roles, their possible involvement, and the burning question:  should they, too, have been fully investigated by the RCMP … and why weren’t they?

I stepped briefly into courtroom 53 minutes before ten o’clock.  I believe I saw Mr. Webster there, alone, awaiting – I presume – the appearance of Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie who will preside at the trial of Basi, Virk, and Basi.  He looked from a distance rather like a character out of a 1940’s movie – a Catholic penitent waiting for the priest so he could be confessed of his sins in complete anonymity and privacy.  Whatever he said, it was in complete anonymity and privacy – if it was, in fact, Mr. Webster. 

The publication ban is draconian.  I could have been allowed into the courtroom, and so could Keith Fraser, a reporter there, unable to report what went on – BUT in a free society being present, and at some time in the distant future being a guarantee of truth if the preservation of democracy called upon us –  and THEN to be repositories of information the society might need.  

Not only was the publication ban in place, but - without any preparation of the public - the doors were shut and locked against people like Keith Fraser and me.

Leading legal theorists in all democracies declare that secret proceedings must be suspected as dishonest proceedings.  I suspect….

I suspect that Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie heard information that “the Gordon Campbell interests” do not want ANYONE to hear.  I suspect that there must have been a sudden and dramatic reason to close and lock the door in order to keep out people like Keith Fraser and me.  I suspect that (a) either the Supreme Court of British Columbia is so sloppy and inefficient that it can’t report correctly even a closed hearing, or (b) that suddenly someone decided the information to be imparted at ten a.m. was so “hot” that the doors had to be closed … and locked … on courtroom 53.

I suspect Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie violated her own publication ban, for it doesn’t say observers can’t be present. It says they can’t report anything communicated at the proceedings.  

But the doors were closed and locked!  And there was no notice on the door.  Astounding!

I suspect ….  I suspect ….  I suspect ….  And the best authorities in our system, the most experienced experts on the administration of justice in Canada and other democratic systems are on record as saying, repeatedly, that I have every right to suspect. 

A person has to ask – once again – for whom and what the officers of the Supreme Court of British Columbia are working? For justice?  For the people of British Columbia?  If they are, they are managing to fool more and more people ….

When former judge signed off, see: HERE


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


BCR: British Columbia's own railway

This is a new book:


by Dale Sanders
White River Productions, Kansas City

Blurb: Northern Light is an all-color portrait of one of North America’s most fascinating railways — BC Rail.

With 303 full color photographs and 12 lavishly illustrated maps, this volume presents a retrospective of the entire BC Rail system during its 20-year life span between June 1984 and July 2004. [Surely they jest ... the railway was incorporated in 1908, and publicly-owned since 1912; the name-change from Pacific Great Eastern (PGE) to BCRail took place in 1984. - BC Mary.]

In ... Northern Light may be found all the elements that made BC Rail so interesting. From its locomotives (including steam, diesel, and electric) to its unique Budd RDC passenger operations, BC Rail was a railway like no other.

Besides just machinery, BC Rail’s right-of-way passed through some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery in North America. Perhaps the railway’s most valuable feature were the railroaders who performed their assigned duties with professionalism and a passion for railroading.

The photographs of the machines, landscapes, and people included in Northern Light tell the whole story of British Columbia’s own railway. From the familiar to rare images of remote trackage never before photographed, it’s all here in one amazing volume.

Northern Light: British Columbia's Own Railway is also available from

MacMillan Publications at US$69.95. Details HERE. As well as other online bookstores ...

if anyone locates a Canadian bookseller, please let me know and I'll include it here too.

Meantime, we are indebted to Dale Sanders for bringing his railroad-passions to British Columbia and producing this wonderful-sounding book (I haven't seen it yet).

Just in passing, I do have two DVD treasures which I heartily recommend -- especially #2, which is also a White River Production offering.

 BC RAIL Before the Sale.

BC Rail was British Columbia's Crown jewel railroad. Watch the last months of BC Rail's operation from North Vancouver all the way to Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson ... the scenery is magnificent ...

DVD running time: 90 minutes
Price: $24.95.


TWILIGHT ON THE RAILS. The end of an Era in North America.

A White River Production. 

Quote: This powerful documentary film ... covers events surrounding the end of passenger train services on BC Rail in remote British Columbia ... enshrouded in political controversy, the train's pending demise on the last day of October 2002 set off a furor in British Columbia.

When several BC Rail passenger employees choose retirement during the last week of service, the cameras witness first-hand the final run of the engineer and conductor ...

the final run for the train itself is beset with delays as demonstrators blockade the train at Williams Lake ... Seton Lake ... trying to make their voices heard by a government that seems to have turned a deaf ear ...

Through BC Rail employees, witnesses, and townspeople along the line, Twilight on the Rails is a fascinating look at the tragedy associated with ... the fight for their train and the loss of their town's connection to the outside world.

This is a story you won't ever forget.

82 minutes running time
Price $24.95

White River Productions
PO Box 9580, Kansas City, MO 64133
Toll-free: 877-787-2467 • Non-US: 816-285-6560


Tuesday, April 13, 2010


BNSF is suing BC Rail ... !!!

Lawsuit of the week   
Business in Vancouver -  April 8, 2010

[There's an old Irish quotation: "Don't get angry. Get even." How about a late billing  for alleged services 1990 - 2007?]

BNSF was one of the disillusioned bidders who had reason to believe that the 2003 BC Rail auction was rigged.

Quote: BNSF, found the report  unsatisfactory on many counts - one of the most obvious: Charles River Associates [hired by the Campbell government to assess the fairness] didn't bother to interview the bidding companies involved! Also BNSF recorded that the Gordon Campbell forces did not reveal to bidders a major term of consideration.

That last fact was spotted by the Alberta/B.C. company Ferroequus which refused even to bid because, it appears, it believed it was being misled about government requirements (in order to get lots of bidders who could be said to have "failed" in the bidding?).                                         

Rail operator seeks switching charges

U.S.-based BNSF Railway Co. has sued Teck Metals Ltd., 6317057 Canada Ltd. and Canadian National Railway Co. for switching charges it claims it is owed related to the movement of zinc and lead concentrates and railcars to Vancouver Wharves through various track interchanges.

According to the statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on February 10, since November 1, 2007, CN has been billing and continues to bill switching charges to BNSF for the Vancouver Wharves switching services and the CN switching services – the movement of concentrates and railcars between the terminal facility and BC Rail/CN Rail interchange and between the terminal facility and the CN/BNSF interchange – and BNSF has paid those switching charges, and in turn, billed Teck Metals. In turn, Teck Metals has reimbursed BNSF for those switching charges.

It is alleged that BC Rail [huh?] was receiving payment from Vancouver Wharves for the Vancouver Wharves switching services and was also invoicing and receiving payment from BNSF for the same Vancouver Wharves switching services.

It was further alleged that the transport agreement between BNSF and Teck Metals would pay or otherwise be liable for any and all switching charges incurred and paid by BNSF for the Vancouver Wharves switching services and the CN switching services.

In August 2008, BNSF invoiced Teck Metals for the switching charges paid by BNSF to CN ($3,822,311) for the period of April 1, 2005, to September 30, 2007. In July 2009, BNSF invoiced Teck Metals for the switching charges paid by BNSF to BC Rail ($1,181,366) for the period of January 1, 2004, to March 31, 2005. Teck neglected or refused to pay the invoices.

BNSF is seeking an accounting of all switching charges it paid to BC Rail from July 1, 1990, to September 30, 2007, an accounting of switching charges it paid to CN during the same period as well as orders for payment by Teck Metals and CN to BNSF of all monies found due.

BNSF is also seeking $1,181,366 for switching services provided between January 1, 2004, and March 31, 2005; and $3,822,311 for switching services provided between April 1, 2005, and September 30, 2007, against Teck Metals.

A statement of defence had not been filed by press time.



Let the Mounties explain

This Globe and Mail editorial makes a West Coaster think of Basi, Virk, and Basi ... and to wonder how far ahead the BC Rail trial would be, right now, if we addressed the RCMP in these terms.  Or if the RCMP had felt confident enough to have done so themselves.

The Guergis-Jaffer affair is a small thing by comparison with the BC Rail affair. Very, very small. And yet we never saw in all these years (6 years) this kind of approach to the vital elements leading up to the trial ... except when we read Prof. Mathews' statements about the necessity for police to act in the BC Rail case. I have to wonder why, how, who is  behind the BC Rail scenes making that kind of baffling difference in our vital affairs? 

So far as I can see: Robin Mathews is our West Coast Globe and Mail on the subject of RCMP integrity in the BCRail affair.

Have a look ... and please share your thoughts.  - BC Mary.
Let the Mounties explain ...

The Globe and Mail - April 12, 2010

The RCMP should expeditiously make public the nature of the serious allegations against Helena Guergis, the former minister of state for the status of women and the now independent MP for Simcoe-Grey. It is one of the functions of police forces, rather than of first ministers or other members of the cabinet, to clearly but prudently summarize to the public what a suspected, or charged, person is thought to have done.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper acted properly in passing on the claims made against Ms. Guergis to the RCMP. It is not within the normal duties or skills of a prime minister to formulate and announce suspicions of criminal wrongdoing, while avoiding the shoals of prejudicing a possible future trial, on the one hand, and of compromising a current investigation, on the other. This task is rightly to be expected from the expertise of the police.

Ms. Guergis was a minister of the Crown, and the Canadian public are indeed entitled to be informed of the character of the allegations against her. The RCMP should do so sooner rather than later. It is true that the force revised its procedures after its investigation of possible leaks by politicians of a prospective change of policy on income trusts, but that was in the midst of the 2005 election, which is not the present situation.

Thanks to a sensible policy of the law, police are sheltered by a legal privilege from defamation lawsuits for announcement of investigations and charges, for good reason. It is their duty to inform the public of what they believe to be well founded suspicions, and citizens need to be able to scrutinize the conduct of the police and of the judicial process as a whole.
  [Emphasis added. - BC Mary.]

Indeed, members of Parliament are also sheltered from defamation actions for what they say in the House of Commons. But that is to enable free debate – always subject to the House’s own rules – on matters of public policy, rather than to denounce individuals, though this may often be reasonably incidental to legislative discussion. Parliament is not usually the proper place to unveil criminal investigations or charges.

Moreover, Ms. Guergis’s former portfolio, concerned as it is with gender-based analysis, was not one of those most vulnerable to criminal behaviour or consequently of the most urgent interest to the public. A minister of justice may try to obstruct prosecutions; a minister of finance may try to use budgetary measures for corrupt purposes. A minister of public works may be tempted to award government contracts to cronies.

Mr. Harper acted rightly by communicating the allegations against Ms. Guergis to the police. In their turn, the RCMP should be prompt in disclosing these allegations. Though they might be well advised to err on the side of speed in this case, they must still exercise their judgment.

Full editorial and comments HERE.

In another news report today, the detail-work done by Star reporters on Rahim Jaffer's background creates a  fascinatingly informative article. It's the kind of rough-and-tumble honesty we need to see in West Coast media ...  journalism speaking to power.  Journalism that says: this is what we see, so we're  reporting it. 

Here's one small excerpt from:

Former MP Rahim Jaffer connected to alleged conman:

... Gillani was visibly drunk; Jaffer was not, though he drank steadily.

Jaffer is known in Ottawa, where the Edmonton native was an MP for a decade, as a party animal. To those assembled at Harbour 60 though, Jaffer explained that he could not stay out all night. He had borrowed his wife’s Ford Escape, parked it at the Kipling Street house, and Mihelic had driven him to Harbour 60 in the Porsche. Jaffer said his wife, Helena Guergis, the minister of state for the status of women, was returning from a business trip and he had to get home to the house they shared in Angus.

The night progressed from cocktails to wine to liqueurs.

The women were supplied by 23-year-old Jasmine of high class escort agency Cachet Ladies. Gillani tells his friends he is engaged to Jasmine, whom he met a year ago on an escort date ...

The full article is HERE.


Saturday, April 10, 2010


B.C. Rail: Madam Justice MacKenzie's outrageous publication ban

Did I tell you about my macabre joke -- the one where I was momentarily devastated to learn (at the 2nd medical consultation after ALL the test results were in hand) that I am NOT going to die soon??  For 3 weeks, I had accepted the prospect of death. and I was comfortable with that -- if that's what was in the cards. And I certainly didn't want my darling daughter to cry all night ever again. I wanted my last weeks to be happy weeks.

Why did I think my life was ending? First was being told I have cancer. 2) Then the Oncologist's remark that there are a few dark patches showing on the bone scan. 3)  finding cancer in two other places. 4) the Oncologists' decision not to operate.

The part I missed, I guess, is that all the doctors and techs were so upbeat. Yes, the doctors are wonderful (it's a teaching hospital where I'm treated, so everything is spelled out twice -- once for me and again in medical terminology for the M.D. student accompanying us) and at no time did they speak of or imply that The End is Nigher Than I Thought. [Only the A-hole (precise medical terminology) spoke of doom as he - let's call him #5) -  rejoiced at my early demise.]

Fact is: I was completely comfortable with knowing I would soon die. A bit scared about how it would all end ... yes ... but there were several major changes happening in my life and this seemed like part of the pattern. I was OK with the news. I wanted my family to be OK too, and to treat this as an interesting journey.  The prospect of dying does concentrate the mind wonderfully (just as Samuel Johnson said, in the 18th century).

As I wondered how to make best use of my remaining time,  bammo: thoughts of the huge publication ban which Madam Justice MacKenzie had just flung like a toxic cloud over Basi-Virk issues.

The very morning I was to attend that final big medical consultation I had an idea. The way I figured it, Madam J-Mac. had just aimed a toxic spray over

EVERYBODY in the BC Rail trial ... lawyers, the accused, the media and the public ...

and we had all been floored, planked, buzzing in circles

asking "Oh Lord, what does it all mean?"

when in fact we should be declaring our honest views, our deeply-held opinions about our railway, our court, our government.

I mean wtf not??? Isn't that what good citizens do? I think so. 

There may in fact be nothing wrong with her ruling -- coming, as it does, from the Great Book. But the way she issued that edict ... why did she issue an edict which (some say) doesn't depart from normal routine?? Which, of course, kept people asking "What does it all mean?"

And then she re-proclaimed it, with a minor correction. I am convinced that Madam J-Mac was issuing a serious warning -- of some kind -- because people still didn't feel certain that they understood its meaning ... they still felt threatened by it. And to be on the safe side, they tried to avoid mention of BC Rail and/or Basi-Virk. Read Bill Tieleman's good reports on this. He figured he wasn't allowed to even mention who was in court (lawyers or the public) on the last day of public hearings. Imagine that ... and do the words "Zimbabwe" or "Somalia" spring to mind? 

So I began to think that B.C. citizens must not sit quietly with bags over our heads while Madam J-Mac tells us to "Keep movin' along ... silently." Why the heck should we? It's our railroad and our court.

Frankly, the more I concentrated my mind on the BC Rail trial, the more I found Madam J-Mac's court contemptible. Not all courts. Not the Canadian court system. Her specific court hearing this specific trial.  Much, much more admirable was Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett's remark in the self-same trial that the public interest was a top priority.

So I began to draft my inflammatory editorial, telling myself that I wouldn't live to see myself cited, arrested, and facing a Supreme Court trial for Contempt of Court. I'd be sorta, like, safe. Ha!

My wonderful little family had gathered beside me. Even my little grandson (12) asked to stay home from school so he could be with me. My darling daughter. And my ex-husband.  Maybe it was that image: 3 generations looking toward the future ... a future in which governments could with a wink and a nod, shut down the courts of justice with publication bans.

So ... just before we left the house, I looked again at the draft editorial which I had written about MacKenzie's cockeyed ruling (yep, that's what I had called it) ... and thinking w.t.f. not? ... I punched the PUBLISH button before I ran out the door to attend this critical medical conference.

I was smiling. "Maybe I'll be cited for Contempt of Court," I thought, "but the way BC courts move, I'll be long gone before it gets to trial ... ha!"

And so we gathered -- my precious little family seeming so small in the huge hospital -- and then the reports, the summary, the advice ... those dark bits on the bone? probably arthritis. The big, big news was that the treatment -- only a tiny pill taken once a day -- was shown to be 100% responsive ... so that I'd be kept on it -- nothing more -- for "two or three years" and then, if necessary, "we'd consider chemo."  To monitor progress, another CT Scan in 3 months.

"You mean ... ? "  But I knew already ... I ain't gonna die anytime soon. I had outwitted myself. Dang! Oh come on now ... I thought. If you had enough courage to face death a few hours ago and to write a bit of truth to power ... wouldn't you be even better able to do that now? Well yeah ... so here goes with another re-write. My original posting doesn't seem so inflammatory now ... which just goes to show the effect of Madam J-Mac's draconian warning. Intended or not, I had felt intimidated. Others did too.  

Good people are still revisiting, revising, and trying to properly understand Madam Justice MacKenzie's huge publication ban on Basi-Virk (BC Rail) issues. Mainstream media seem only too happy to stop saying anything about the case, the railway, the accused men, or the trial. A co-incidence? I don't think so.

But in my opinion, the main damage has been done: there's apparently no plan whatever for mainstream media coverage of the BC Rail Trial -- such as was laid on for the Pickton Pig Farm Trial.  And the excuse for that? There's a publication ban.

Why is there a publication ban? Shouldn't Justice MacKenzie have to give a reason ... and a very good reason ... before she tries to muzzle the media on Case #23299?

And doesn't the tainted sale of a large, vital railway once owned by the citizens of B.C. require a full and open testing at trial? 

Well, I wasn't cited ... nor will anyone be cited, if you ask me ... because I'm pretty sure Justice MacKenzie's edict couldn't possibly stand up in court.  Also ... who in power would challenge a ruling to silence the evidence of corruption in the unpopular sale of BC Rail?

Who indeed ... except for the people who once owned the railway which some have called "the steel backbone of British Columbia"? The people can challenge this Supreme Court's anti-democratic ruling simply by speaking up and speaking out. (Remember she said we couldn't. At least, I think that's what her cockeyed ruling says.)

If you ask me, I believe that Anne MacKenzie has placed herself in a position where contempt for the BC Supreme Court is the only reasonable response. And here's an excellent example from a citizen responding to a Vancouver Sun article:


It would be very good for a healthy democracy if people from all corners of British Columbia wrote or spoke out forthrightly about anything that tries to prevent the people of B.C. from knowing what's going on in the BC Rail trial.  Don't wait, as I did, for the day when you think your life is over and it's the last best thing you can do for the future.

The good news is that if Madam J-Mac cites us for Contempt of Her Court because we've expressed our opinions ... well then, wouldn't we have real evidence of the suppression of news? Right out in the open? News that justice in B.C. can be seen NOT being done?

But suppose we sit quietly obeying an outrageously boneheaded edict which bans citizens showing responsibility for justice in an informed democracy. That would mean B.C. may never again hope to see a free press or a fair trial. -- BC Mary.