Saturday, June 05, 2010
The BC Rail Scandal, Basi, Virk, and Basi Trial Focuses Wide-Ranging Political Abuse (by Campbell) of Special Crown Prosecutor Appointments
The following is a letter sent to Stephen Owen, UBC vice-president, External, Legal, and Community Relations. Mr. Owen has been asked by B.C. Attorney General Michael de Jong to “review” the appointment process for Special Crown Prosecutors and – it seems – to smother criticism and to cover-up what I believe has been (and is) serious, on-going abuse.
Attorney General de Jong said at the time of Mr. Owen’s appointment: “In my view the system has generally worked well over the years”. Mr. de Jong merely wants a look at ”fine-tuning some of the issues”.
Stephen Owen said: “I don’t see the recent cases as suggesting the system needs to be dramatically changed or doesn’t work, but it should be reviewed to see if it can be improved.”(May, 2010)
The category of Special Prosecutor needs, I believe, dramatic rebuilding or abolition altogether. But both (Liberal) Michael de Jong and (Liberal) Stephen Owen soft-pedal the abuse that has taken (and is taking) place. I believe the process of appointment of Special (Crown) Prosecutors has been regularly abused. I believe it has been employed politically to protect wrongdoing by the Gordon Campbell government. I am forced to the suspicion that the de Jong/Owen move is an attempt to cover up a sorry condition needing complete overhaul.
That moves me to ask about Stephen Owen’s suitability to undertake the review. Is conflict of interest and/or the potential for perception of conflict of interest on his part so strong as to rule him out? Owen was, and presumably is, a Liberal. He was deputy Attorney General in the B.C. ministry, and he was a Liberal MP. He is presently – by job description – “responsible for guiding and enhancing engagement with government at all levels” for UBC…. Can such a person ALSO act as an unbiased critic (as a Liberal) of a B.C. (Liberal) government process (and ministry) under serious attack?
The answer, I believe, is that he cannot possibly act as an unbiased critic.
As if to make a fantasy of the whole “review” process, Mr. Owen very likely SHOULD NOT have been appointed because of “the potential for perception of bias or the incontrovertible bias” he will show in any work he does on the matter. He has been appointed to look at the potential for perception of bias or incontrovertible bias shown in the appointment of Special (Crown) Prosecutors!
Every Special Crown Prosecutor appointed since the election of Gordon Campbell in 2001 must be suspect.
Every appointee must be carefully and completely examined. (What were his/her connections to the Campbell Machine? What was he/she paid?)
How much is the Special Prosecutor appointment kept as a rich plum to give to Liberal supporters – and how much do they, in turn, contribute to the Gordon Campbell party?
How many of the appointments have been demonstrable, political appointments to further the political aims of, or to cover wrongdoing by Gordon Campbell and/or his associates?
How many have been made in clear violation of the Special (Crown) Prosecutor legislation?
Why is there no check, no review, no process by which potential appointees are thoroughly vetted?
The Letter to Mr. Stephen Owen follows.
Dear Vice President Owen:
Your appointment to review the process for appointing Special (Crown) Prosecutors is subject to criticism on the basis of conflict of interest or the potential for perceived conflict of interest. Moreover, your making light of the necessity for review indicates, perhaps, that you don’t intend – nor were appointed - to ensure seriousness in the examination of what I believe is serious, continuous, intended violation of the legislation. Attorney General de Jong – to show his seriousness – has refused to answer a letter from me about a specific, present, on-going violation.
The superficial “reason” usually presented for the review concerns the appointment of Terrence Robertson as Special Prosecutor in the election spending investigation involving Kash Reed, B.C. Solicitor General. After completing his findings, Mr. Robertson reported that his firm contributed money to the Kash Heed campaign. The press made much of the matter and revealed that many Special Crown Prosecutors and/or their firms contribute to the Liberal Party.
What has been almost totally unreported in relation to the Kash Heed affair is that Terrence Robertson was wrongly appointed as Special Prosecutor in the Winston Blackmore/Jim Oler Bountiful bigamy case, and that Madam Justice Sunni Stromberg Stein ruled that Attorney General Wally Oppal had no jurisdiction to direct his officials to appoint Terrence Robertson. I believe Mr. Robertson should have known he was not appointable. Madam Justice Stromberg Stein stopped the proceedings.
Notable is that Mr. Oppal ignored legislation saying the assistant deputy Attorney General appoints Special Prosecutors. Mr. Oppal refused to take the advice of two appointed Special Prosecutors – one after the other. Mr. Oppal involved himself in flagrant political interference, and then proceeded with charges when Terrence Robertson accepted appointment.
Robertson, I insist, should not have accepted appointment in 2009. Madam Justice Stromberg Stein made that clear when she stopped the action. Nonetheless, in 2010 the Attorney General ministry appointed Robertson AGAIN as Special Prosecutor to investigate the Kash Heed electoral financing matter.
Reasonable British Columbians might well believe that the double appointment demonstrates the Campbell cabinet is practiced in politicizing the appointment of Special Prosecutors. And it suggests there may well be a preferred list of political appointees used by the Campbell cabinet to get judicial outcomes favourable to Cambbell and his friends.
The Doug Walls case (2003-04) is significant. A relation by marriage to Gordon Campbell, Walls was accused of financial wrongdoing by CIBC involving a Prince George auto company. Nonetheless, Walls was contracted by Gordon Campbell’s ministry of Children and Families. In a scandal involving large sums of money and Walls, the deputy minister was fired and the minister resigned. No charges were laid against Mr. Walls.
But charges were laid in Prince George over the CIBC accusation of Walls defrauding it of more than $5000.00. That case involved Mr. Walls and CIBC. There was no need for a Special Prosecutor, but the Attorney General appointed Mr. Josiah Wood to the case, and it was heard by Associate Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, Patrick Dohm. Gordon Campbell professed to know little about Mr. Walls, but it is alleged he leased his car from Walls and stayed at his home in Prince George.
Ron Collins wrote in May of 2004 that the Ministry of Children and Families wrote off more than a million dollars owed to it by CareNet, a society for which Mr. Walls was Project Manager. Collins reports Mr. Walls was repeatedly awarded untendered contracts with no competition; that he was paid more than the contractual limit; that one of his contracts was backdated by three months; and more. No charges were laid in the matter.
Could it be that the administration of justice stops at Gordon Campbell’s door? Could it be that the administration of justice is seriously tampered with in Gordon Campbell’s interest by the ministry of the Attorney General?
Could it be that Special Prosecutors are appointed to effect those ends? The whole process, as I have suggested, needs thorough investigation and public review. I refer to only a few questionable appointments in this letter.
The most alarming breach of the legislation governing the appointment of Special Prosecutors is before us now – the appointment of William Berardino as Special Prosecutor in the BC Rail Scandal case, and, in particular, in the criminal action against three Order in Council appointees – Dave Basi, Bob Virk, and Aneal Basi.
As you well know, Mr. Owen, one of the key reasons for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor is to guarantee the appointee will have no connection to elected representatives, civil servants, police officers, and/or others of similar kinds – where connection with them may be believed to suggest bias.
Mr. William Berardino was appointed in December of 2003 by the Attorney General’s ministry in which the Attorney General, Geoff Plant, and the Deputy Attorney General, Allan Seckel BOTH were long-time partners and colleagues of William Berardino. Both HAD TO BE interested parties in the accusations against the three men charged.
Mr. Berardino may, moreover – like Terrence Robertson – have been a product of “Special Prosecutor shopping”. We know that Josiah Wood preceded Mr. Berardino as Special Prosecutor, and that he withdrew. Attorney General de Jong refuses to give any information about the process of finding and appointing William Berardino.
Mr. Berardino assessed the RCMP’s investigation materials (which had to touch upon cabinet ministers and, perhaps, others of high rank), and he framed charges exclusively against the three presently accused men.
In 2005 Mr. Plant, Attorney General, chose – for inexplicable reasons (as did other cabinet members close to the BC Rail Scandal) to leave politics. Mr. Berardino donated money to the election campaign of Mr. Plant’s successor, Wally Oppal.
In the Spring of 2007 Gordon Campbell, apparently, became ill-at-ease with a well-functioning protocol for vetting cabinet documents sought by Defence in disclosure application. Unilaterally, Gordon Campbell ended the working protocol (clearly involving himself as dominating politician – out of political interest - in a legal matter before the courts). He announced Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel would henceforth take full responsibility for cabinet documents – and that Seckel would consult with Special Prosecutor William Berardino … who was for eleven years Mr. Seckel’s partner and colleague.
In 2009 Mr. Berardino appeared before Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm to argue that Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett should be removed from the position of presiding judge at pre-trial hearings because she couldn’t be in two places at once, and because procedure, Mr. Berardino alleged, had not been exactly followed. Some believe Madam Justice Bennett was removed because she allowed too great access (through disclosure) to documents embarrassing to Gordon Campbell and his associates in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to CNR.
Whatever the case in respect to the replacement of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett by Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie, the wrongful appointment of William Berardino in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case is alive, is present, and must invalidate the Crown’s case against the three men. The trial is taking place …now.
For that reason, you must intervene now, and you must demand the removal of William Berardino in order to assure the administration of justice in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case is not permanently fouled.
If you refuse to act in this emergent matter without delay, I believe you will give evidence to British Columbians that your appointment was made (and accepted) not to protect and preserve the administration of justice in British Columbia … but to assist the cover-up of on-going wrongdoing by the Gordon Campbell cabinet. I believe you will be endorsing violations of justice in B.C. by Gordon Campbell and his associates.
Please reply to this letter, and please act without delay, publicly, to set in motion the machinery necessary to remove Willliam Berardino as Special Prosecutor in the BC Rail Scandal Basi, Virk, and Basi case.
Nothing solid but hey if you can't have a little faith in right wing assholes who can you ever believe in.
The GREAT SATAN
And Oh Great Satan, the interesting thing will be to see which of the 40 or 50 possibilities as rationale for that mistrial will be "the one". Berardino's illegal appointment? Justice Mackenzie deciding the public furore, in spite of her publication ban, is sufficient reason to end the trial since it cannot be "fair" if the public are vocal (and vocal about her appointment as well as her judgements, or rather her lack of any sense of real justice).
Somehow, they'll blame the NDP. And try and stash all those evidence boxes away and get busy on propaganda about how it was all a mistake and there's not so much of a problem as "radical conspiracy theorists" are demonstrating in their analyses in blogspace.
Maybe just the realization that "oh, these guys shouldn't have even been charged, other people should have"....without anyone else being charged.
Or Erik Bornmann even testifying in order to earn the amnesty for being in the instigator of the crime under examination in the first place. It's not his crime that's even really all that important; it's all that money changing hands between CN, Campbell, Kinsella.....
....and how is it, again, that the Washington Group was part of this?
A mistrial will only add to the scandal, not end it.....
See, re Robin's comments tonight to Stephen Owen, if Berardino's appointment was illegal, then motions he made in the course of the case are cast in the appropriate suspect light. And among those, very pointedly, is the ditching of the publicly-minded justice previously in charge of the case, and her replacement by an until-then nobody, who - upon doing her assigned dirty work - was mysteriously appointed (with nice pay raise) the the position of ACJ.
Why has not Corporate Crime investigated teh clear pattern of government contracts (and assets) in exchange for campaign donations? Because it is illegal....
The "national" media continues to talk about Mulroney-Schreiber, even though the assets and cash - and sovereignty issues and constitutional issues manifest in this case - those are paltry by comparison.
22 Minutes and Air Farce on Comedy Channel this week keeps on playing Chretien-era shows/reruns......not that they're still in production, but if they were I know they'd use this to slag Liberals, without getting that Campbellites aren't Liberals any more than Harper and pals are Diefenbakerites. "They" just don't get it (people from east of the mountains)....not that the pundits on CBC et al have any real political reliability or neutrality in the slightest....
"Mr Campbell, who was it in your administration that ordered the destruction of emails related to this case right before last year's election?" is no more likely to be heard from an interviewer than a lawyer, though I'm sure McCullough would like to get the chance to ask it with Campbell on the stand. "If you took responsibility for this destruction of evidence, why did you not resign as required by the constutition?"
"Or did you just ask someone else to play fall guy for you? Did they get a nice severance package?"
Tell ya what, if this goes to mistrial we could stage a play (or film/TV miniseries), using available evidence and footage, to conduct the trial that should have taken place.
Not that BC Film, Telefilm or the Canada Council or NHB would kick in....
Lawyers, prosecutors, judges, police, media - all have been shown to be self-governing for their own agendas, with no concern for legal propriety, political morality or public accountability. What we have witnesses is unnacceptable and the foxes should have the chicken coop not only taken away from them...and made to confess their sins to the chickens directly.
Not appointing another fox, as with Stephen Owen, to say "oh the (other) foxes didn't do anything wrong....what needs fixing is the legislation so they can do the same things without breaking any rules....."
How many other bits of government largesse to party donors are equally contaminated and corrupt? Seems most likely to say "all of them".
The "national" media, those who know what's going on, are of the mind, or are told to be of the mind, that opening up all the facts of this case to public scrutiny would change "the system as we know it"....in fact, I remember a few of them defending the practices the case opened up, back in the spring of '04, by saying "but it's business as usual" (meaning bribes like OmniTRAX's)......
It is, huh? And why is that? And you're OK with it?? How's that again?
June 8/10 CTV reports
...holds a procedural hearing in Vancouver on Tuesday as it considers new hearing dates.
See the relationship
April 9,2010 Mark Hume G@M
"A decision by the Supreme Court of Canada has cleared the way for the resumption of a public inquiry into the death of Frank Paul"
"The court on Thursday rejected an application by the Attorney-General of British Columbia to appeal a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that said Crown prosecutors could be compelled to testify at the Frank Paul inquiry.
Neil MacKenzie, communications counsel for the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch, said the Supreme Court decision means Crown prosecutors will now have to testify."
Why do they need to testify You might ask,
"“We will be interviewing all of the prosecutors who had a significant involvement with the file, and we’ll call any prosecutor who’s reasonably necessary to understand what was done with the case,” he said.
After 60 days of hearings, the Frank Paul inquiry, headed by retired B.C. Supreme Court justice William Davies, released an interim report in March, 2009.
But the commission withheld its final findings because of the unresolved dispute concerning testimony by Crown prosecutors.
Mr. Davies had wanted prosecutors to explain why charges were not laid against the Vancouver police officers who had dragged Mr. Paul out of jail and left him in an alley on a cold December night in 1998."
So Today June 8
"Retired judge William Davies wrapped up the inquiry in March 2009 with a 446-page report that was harshly critical of Vancouver police in Paul's Dec. 6, 1998 death.
But the inquiry also ended without testimony from three former Crown lawyers -- who are now judges -- and Davies vowed to reconvene the hearings if the courts ruled the three should defend their decision not to charge any of the officers.
In April, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal against the order to testify, clearing the way for the judges to explain their actions in handling the case of the 48-year-old Mi'kmaq from New Brunswick.
There will be a day I am SURE, that the Crown Prosecutors past and present will have to testify in a BC Rail Enquiry.
from Doug Steads site
"BC's Charge Approval Process must go
Introduction and Executive Summary
I have been tilting hard at this particular windmill for the last 10 years. Since even before then, I have been in contact with every SolGen, AGen and Premier provincially as well as their Federal counterparts regarding this BC corruption of the Criminal Code of Canada. Obviously I have not had much success to date, but as changing the DNA of government is a marathon, not a sprint, I take a very long view.
"The Charge Approval Process was again subject of inquiry in 1990 when the government of the day appointed the then-Ombudsman, later Deputy Attorney General, Steven Owen, Q.C., to conduct the Discretion to Prosecute Inquiry. The resulting report was released in November, 1990. This inquiry canvassed the various positions advocating for and against the Charge Approval Process. The report concluded, in the absence of critical examination, that the Process ought to continue but be based on a modified charge approval standard.