Tuesday, August 31, 2010


BC Rail Political Corruption Trial: back in BC Supreme Court (Vancouver) in less than 2 weeks

With Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie presiding, Case No. 23299 is expected to return to Courtroom 54 in BC Supreme Court, Vancouver, on September 13, 2010. Open to the public, of course.

The excellent Defence lawyer, Kevin McCullough, has finished cross-examining Martyn Brown, whose astonishing performance consisted of remembering almost nothing of his 9 years as the premier's Chief of Staff. It was remarkable that he escaped being cited for contempt of court, in my opinion.

Up next ... gee, I forget. Isn't that how the BC Rail issue is supposed to play out? Never mind, I'll find the name before I sign off on this posting.

While searching for the name of the next witness, I saw this ... about the "forgetting". I re-post it here, with some editing: 

BC Mary comment: This is the 1,600th item posted on this blog during the 4 years it has been reaching the public. 

Back in May 2006, many people had begun to realize that too much information about the sale of BC Rail was being withheld. One excellent blog (Pacific Gazette) was already on the case. But 3 more people jumped in, circa May 2006, when the beginning of a trial was announced. "House of Infamy" was first to deal specifically with events arising from the police raid on the offices of the BC Legislature, then "Free Columbians", and then my blog, "The Legislature Raids".

In those olden times, we called these troubles "The Basi-Virk Trial". But it was Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett herself who began to call it "The BC Rail Trial" and then the National Post newspaper added my favourite: "The BC Rail Political Corruption Trial".  It's all referring to the same trial: Case #23299 in BC Supreme Court, now in summer recess [stifled laughter here].

Case #23299 refers specifically to the three Campbell Government employees accused in the tainted sale of BC Rail. Case #23299 is Her Majesty the Queen versus Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi, Bobby Singh Virk, and Aneal Singh Basi. But after these years of questions and search, most of us see the trial as the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial.

As BC Mary, I've had open differences with the mainstream news media in British Columbia. In my view, Big Media has  failed shamefully to provide the basis for an informed society. Fresh from making  exaggerated claims against a former premier as well as a former Opposition Leader, Big Media on the West Coast plunged into a contrary attempt to shield an enormous suspected wrongdoing lest it reflect poorly upon their poster boy, Gordon Campbell.

Big Media on the West Coast has failed to make even an adequate report on the most significant trial ever held in British Columbia (excepting, possibly, the trial of Robert Sommers, one of W.A.C. Bennett's earliest Ministers of Lands and Forests, also for corruption of public assets). 

The West Coast media has displayed a shocking preference for keeping its citizens in a tizzy about sports, Hollywood celebrities, and a certain notorious Pig Farmer ... while seeming to shield us from knowing almost anything about the events which sent 32 uniformed Police sergeants into the BC Legislature, armed with Search Warrants, one Christmas holiday morning in 2003.

Wouldn't you think that the nation's leaders would have rallied around us, with reassurance? Wouldn't you think that a responsible media would've hounded those leaders for reassurance?

But no. Big Media on the West Coast -- it was CanWest then -- displayed an appalling apathy rarely seen in ANY news media ... 

Who can forget BC's premier ... and then Canada's prime minister ... with their pathetic "I know nothing ..." responses to the legitimate questions of an alarmed electorate? Then, as now, the citizens simply and decently wanted to know "Has Organized Crime entered into the corridors of power, and into our governing offices?"  Was that too much to ask? Apparently so.

I've had a specific spat with Ms Lucinda Chodan, Editor-in-Chief of Victoria Times Colonist. One bleak day, I learned that a CanWest reporter had attended one of the Basi-Virk pre-trial sessions but nothing whatever had appeared in the CanWest news media. I e.mailed Ms Chodan "is it too much to ask ...?"  and her reply was "when there's news, we'll print it". Wow. Now that's a quotable quote ... and those historic words are caught and preserved, for posterity, here on The Legislature Raids.  As well as on The Tyee [http://thetyee.ca/News/2007/04/24/MediaScam/]

Well, credit where credit is due: This editorial (copied below) may be Lucinda's writing or influenced by Lucinda. Whatever. The words are important. Big Media is finally realizing that they'd better admit to a few questionable things. 

I'd just like to say "Thank you. But what the heck took you so long?"

Times Colonist -- July 9, 2010

The halting progress of the B.C. Rail corruption case is an indictment of our justice system.

The B.C. Supreme Court trial adjourned this week for an 11-week summer break. "Enjoy yourselves," Justice Anne MacKenzie advised the jurors.

It's unlikely the three defendants -- or anyone else involved with this eight-year-old investigation -- will find it easy to enjoy themselves as the case drags on.

The long summer break follows the first eight weeks of the trial of Dave Basi and Bob Virk on charges of breach of trust, fraud and accepting bribes to help one of the bidders for B.C. Rail, and of Aneal Basi on money-laundering charges. In that time, only one witness has testified. Weeks have been taken up with legal arguments, with the jury excluded.

What about? We can't tell you. MacKenzie issued a sweeping publication ban on anything said in court in the absence of the jury.

The purpose is understandable. Coverage of the legal arguments -- which are not evidence -- could influence jurors. The primary consideration must be a fair trial for the accused.

But the public has a right to know what is going on in the courtroom, what is causing the delays and why the legal issues weren't settled in advance.

MacKenzie could help inform the public by providing information, in the jury's presence, on the general nature of the issues.

This case began with a corruption investigation in 2002. It made headlines in December 2003, when police armed with search warrants carted boxes from legislature. A year later, the charges were laid and the trial was scheduled for June 2006.

But the prosecution's delays in disclosing evidence to the defence and various pre-trial legal arguments stalled the proceedings for four years, until this May. Even then the trial was expected to take up to eight weeks. Now it is predicted to last 10 months, although based on progress so far it is hard to be confident in that estimate.

We have no idea who to blame for halting progress and many delays.

But the delays are unfair to the accused and those named in search warrants and other documents, who have spent more than eight years under a cloud.

They are unfair, and costly, to the public, which is waiting to learn whether corruption tainted the government's sale of B.C. Rail. They reduce the chance of a fair trial, as witnesses' memories fade.

And they reinforce the public perception that our criminal justice system is not working.

BC Mary can't help saying one more thing: if the Times Colonist (or any media) is so gosh-darned concerned about these matters, let's see them apply to the court for a lifting of that draconian Publication Ban imposed by Madam Justice MacKenzie.  Or demand it, in an editorial. Excluding, of course, the bit about the Secret Witness. Nobody's trying to derail the trial proceedings. I'd simply say that the citizens of British Columbia are feeling a great need to be treated with due respect.

As I understand the situation: 

* nobody -- neither Crown Prosecution team nor the Defence team -- asked for a publication ban

* The judge did not explain why she felt the ban was necessary

* in fact, MacKenzie did not provide a formal, written ruling on the matter of a publication ban, such as who it's supposed to protect

* little, if any, consideration has been given to what everyone seems to suggest  is the sacred duty to provide open courtrooms and free-flowing information in a democratic society. So who speaks for the citizens, in the matter of the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial?

The BC Rail Political Corruption Trial resumes on September 13, 2010. According to Vancouver Sun, the next witness will be Allan Wallace of CIBC World Markets.
Wallace was part of the financial advisory team when the Campbell government decided to privatize BC Rail in 2003.

The trial jury has heard an allegation from the defence that CIBC's financial advisor contract was worth millions but was never put out for public tender, which broke a campaign promise by the BC Liberal government of Gordon Campbell.

The trial has heard no evidence to substantiate the defence allegation.

Read more HERE


With thanks to E.M. 

Comment by Ray Blessin: Allan Wallace/CIBC have contributed $144,000 to the Gordon Campbell "Liberals" since 2005


Allan Wallace/CIBC have contributed $144,000 to the Gordon Campbell "Liberals" since 2005

Ray Blessin
Will Allan Wallace's memory have faded, too??? Hopefully, there will be loads of records to jog his memory. And, perhaps, the Judge will show some authority when faced with "I don't recall" answers in the future.
When I navigated to the Times Colonist yesterday, they asked me to do a survey. Every single window they gave me to comment, I begged them to Appeal the Publication Ban and send an investigative reporter to cover the trial. Haven't heard back from them...
Ray Blessin: special thanks for that interesting piece of information!

Kim: what a great idea. I'll go back and do that too.
BC Rail trial and HST recall elections - this fall is shaping up to be an interesting period of time.
I think the question that has to be asked, will the Star Witness for the Crown, one Erik Bornman memory we as sharp as Martyn Brown's and if not, then where will that leave the Special Prosecutor and his case.

One thing will be clear, though, if Erik Bornman's recollections are sharp as a tack, it can't be a one-side, lop-sided affair where his testimony will only favour the Crown Prosecutor. He will be grilled by the Defense Counsels, and will certainly make Martyn Brown's testimony even worse looking than what we've heard from the Chief of Staff so far.
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