Monday, September 13, 2010
BC Rail: The Day in Courtroom 54: Basi, Virk, Basi.
By Robin Mathews
September 13, 2010
The day began at 10:25 with 30 or so in the gallery and nine lawyers in court. [I need to reiterate that the process is illegitimate because of the wrongful appointment of William Berardino QC as special Prosecutor in December of 2003 - appointed by an Attorney General's ministry in which the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General had been long time partners and colleagues (and presumably friends) of Mr. Berardino. His appointment offends the legislation governing such appointments, which demands that even the potential for a perception of bias not be present. He should not be in the courtroom. But all, it seems, tacitly agreed to ignore that major fact. (Are we all crazy?)]
The witness called today was Brian Graham Kenning, a long time corporate officer with major companies - and, of interest to the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial as a director of BC Rail as of 2001 (the arrival of Gordon Campbell), and then a member of the Evaluation Committee to facilitate the transfer of BC Rail to the CNR (in the important years of, especially, 2002, 2003).
Mr. Berardino asked him many, many questions about the role he played and the scrupulousness of the bidding, of confidentiality, and the transfer process. The witness spoke clearly of a process as clean as the driven snow. Little remarks, however, pointed to what might perhaps not be quite as pure.
At one point he said that 'management' had been working on BC Rail matters for some months before the Evaluation Committee became involved. And 'management' believed that action had to be taken on the status of BC Rail. Ardent critics of the sale believe that Campbell and associates intended to dump BC Rail to CN from very early - and the work of 'management' might well have been undertaken to push forward a policy of dumping the operation onto CNR.
The witness reported that in the famous "Core Review" undertaken soon after the arrival of Gordon Campbell to power all Crown Corporations were asked for "public policy" reasons why government should own rather than dumping Crown Corporations onto private interests. Giving reasons not to dump would be, of course, a mug's game with privatizers like Gordon Campbell. Almost no "public policy" reason would satisfy him - and so he (as we know) began dumping everything in sight. The Evaluation Committee - to readers' surprise no doubt - just couldn't do anything else but recommend dumping BC Rail! All the evidence, as the witness chose to see it, pointed to the need to get rid of BC Rail. But of course.
The Evaluation Committee was wholly independent as we all know. But the witness reported it was necessary to have government "at the table", because how could the Evaluation Committee receive directions from the Province. That was the phrase he used: Government needed to be at the table "to bring back directions from the Province". He went on to say the Committee had many decisions "we couldn't make on our own". Of course. And so the independence of the Evaluation Committee was an independence which wasn't really independent.
And so the day went....
Mr. Berardino, in his examination of the witness, was quite clearly, it seemed to me, to be setting up evidence that someone (perhaps the accused??) had presented clearly confidential information to ... others, perhaps bidders for the railway. Over and again he cited documents from the Evaluation Committee and asked about their confidential status... to be assured by the witness that they were intended to be held in strict confidentiality.
The witness spoke highly of the role of CIBC World Markets, and of Charles Rivers Associates - the latter heard on the "fairness" of the bidding process.
Not a word was spoken about the withdrawal of CPR with public statements that the bidding process was tainted, nor of Burlington Northern's similar expression of dismay.
Mr. Berardino announced to the judge that he would take about two hours of tomorrow's day to complete his questioning of the present witness. And so all the questions that surfaced at the time of the bidding suggesting it and negotiations were tainted will doubtless come out in those two hours.
Perhaps now would be a good time to return to the letter written by former BC Liberal MLA Paul Nettleton to our very own BC Mary in the Spring of 2009:
"It was some years later...... (after becoming the Liberal critic for BC Rail in Opposition in 1996)......in the Vancouver office of the Premier within months of the election of 2001 that I was informed by Mr Campbell and Martyn Brown (Shirley Bond and Pat Bell were also present) that the pre election promise to maintain BCR as a Crown Corporation was about to be broken......"
(stuff in brackets mine, which is added clarification based on other statements in Mr. Nettleton's letter)
Do you think Professor Mathews is an infant in long clothes (as our mothers used to say)?
The realities have to be lined up: Robin points out that the whole trial is fraudulent, with Berardino permitted to lead the case. That is REALLY important.
(2) Defence is correct in arguing that the greater criminals are being hid, and 'the boys', though not small potatoes ARE small potatoes in relation to the ones being protected.
"His appointment offends the legislation governing such appointments, which demands that even the potential for a perception of bias not be present."
The parachuting in of J-Mac and her at the least APPARENT bias toward the illigitiimate Berardino is also an issue in this observers mind. It certainly isn't common to parachute in a new judge into such a lengthy and complex case unless it is necessary due to death or illness OF THE JUDGE.
Of course I think Justice Bennett was sending too many signs of impartiality (the way it should be) and let us not forget she presided over the B.S. trial that acquited Glen Clark for having a deck built by terrorists or Mafia or whatever it was they magnified, glorified and exploited all out of proportion to steal the reins of government.
Too bad Glen didn't put a 1/2 billion dollar roof on the deck!