Friday, October 29, 2010

 

BC Rail case a betrayal of us all

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[BC Mary comment:  This is one of the best editorials I've seen, summing up the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial.]

By Paul Willcocks
Courier-Islander & Canada.com - Oct 27, 2010

The conclusion of the B.C. Rail corruption case smells.

The plea deal and the decision to spend up to $6 million of taxpayers' money to make it happen raise serious questions about both the justice system and politics in the province ...

it looks much like the government and the special prosecutor made it worthwhile for Dave Basi and Bob Virk to plead guilty to giving insider information on the B.C. Rail deal to lobbyists for one of the bidders.

The prosecutor agreed on a deal that would see the two men, former aides to Liberal cabinet ministers, avoid jail and accept fairly relaxed house arrest conditions. Basi is to pay a fine equal to the bribes and benefits he got.

And the government agreed to cover $6 million in legal costs for the defendants.

That's not the way it's supposed to work.

Government policy says - rightly - that if employees or MLAs are charged or sued while doing their jobs, taxpayers will pick up the tab. But if you're found guilty, you have to pay the money back.

That's what Gordon Campbell said would be the policy when Glen Clark faced criminal charges. (He was found not guilty, so the legal costs were paid.)

And it's the principle Rich Coleman advanced when he sued poor people for income assistance overpayments. Even if all they could do was pay $5 a month, Coleman said, the taxpayers should be repaid.

But when it came to the Liberal political aides, the rules changed.

And so did the government's story about the deal.

The two men couldn't pay anyway, the government said initially. It would cost too much to try and collect.

But the Globe and Mail reported the government had a mortgage on property owned by Basi. It could have recovered some of the legal costs - about $350,000 - simply by foreclosing. (It certainly would have taken that approach with a person on disability income assistance who owed $50, based on Coleman's statements.)

When the decision to cover the legal fees was announced, Attorney General Mike de Jong said he was not involved in the negotations but added "ultimately I am asked to endorse the recommendations" by the legal services branch.

But two days later, the government said the decision was made by the deputy ministers in finance and the attorney general's office. De Jong wasn't told until the decision was made, they said.

It also took two days before the government revealed that negotiations on covering the legal costs had started after Oct. 5, when special prosecutor Bill Berardino told the government he was negotiating a plea bargain.

Which seems entirely wrong. Special prosecutors are appointed in sensitive cases to avoid any perception of political influence in the justice system.

By briefing the government on the possibility of a plea bargain, the special prosecutor opened the door to political interference. [Emphasis mine. - BC Mary]

The government offered the defendants a choice. Fight on, and risk losing everything - including your homes - to settle the legal bills. Or walk away with $6 million in legal fees covered and get on with your lives. Just plead guilty.

It looks more like let's make a deal than the pursuit of truth and justice.

And you're paying the bills. Perhaps $15 million for the special prosecutor's law firm and the defence lawyers. A few million more for lawyers for Gary Collins and Judith Reid and potential government witnesses. Plus court and police costs - maybe $20  million or more, all in.

The government decided it was worth covering the legal fees in return for guilty pleas - before Gary Collins, Judith Reid, Basi, Virk, maybe Gordon Campbell, testified about the B.C. Rail sale.

But the government isn't supposed to have any role in this, remember. That's why there are special prosecutors.

Only thing is certain in all this - British Columbians are the losers.

Footnote: Gordon Campbell said this week that all questions have been answered and the two men acted alone. "They have said in their statement of facts explicitly that they acted on their own, no one else was involved or knew about this," he said. That's not true. All the brief brief statement of facts, negotiated by lawyers, says is that "Basi and Virk did not obtain the consent of their superiors to demand or accept these benefits." That's far from the sweeping claims the Premier has made.

wiillcocks@gmail.com


Source

http://www.canada.com/Rail+case+betrayal/3731316/story.html

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Why the "poor me" face? 

Basi back in court for breaching house arrest

CBC - October 29th, 2010 
VN:F [1.8.6_1065]


Former ministerial aide Dave Basi was back in court on Friday for breaching the terms of his house arrest.
Last week, Basi was sentenced to two years house arrest after he pleaded guilty alongside another former ministerial aide Bob Virk to corruptions charges in the sale of BC Rail.
The details of his breach have yet to be released, but Basi is scheduled to appear in court again on November 15.
CBC News
http://www.kelowna.com/2010/10/29/basi-back-in-court-for-breaching-house-arrest/
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And look at the media mob covering the details of Dave Basi's house arrest. Where were they when the court was in session in pre-trial hearings and the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial itself?  

Dave Basi's house arrest up for review 

By Keith Fraser
The Province - Oct 29, 2010


Story is HERE.

http://www.theprovince.com/news/Dave+Basi+house+arrest+conditions+review/3748089/story.html
 
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Judge tightens controls on house arrest of BC Rail corruption convict

By Terri Theodore
The Canadian Press/The Globe and Mail - Oct 29, 2010

Quote:

Sentencing conditions were tightened Friday for a former B.C. government aide less than two weeks after he was sentenced to house arrest for political corruption.

Dave Basi shook his head as he emerged from the Vancouver courtroom.

“I made a mistake,” he told reporters.

He’d just appeared again before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Anne Mackenzie, who handed him the conditional sentence in the political corruption trial just 12 days before.

The judge agreed to the stricter conditions requested by the Crown ...

{Snip} ...

Read more HERE.

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An important point uncovered by our good friend E.M., cross-posted:


Lots of talk about publication ban
on Friday's appearance in room 55.

I also wonder WHY it always is listed on SC page 23299 HMTQ vs Ltd Access for count 003 Accepting bribe from person dealing with gov't 007 Breach of trust by public officer.
and below that
23299-25 HMTQ vs Basi Udhe S CNT 001 Accepting bribe from person dealing with gov't.

From the

The Sc website says this @ Publication ban notice
23299
R. v. Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi
29/10/2010
Vancouver
Supreme Court
Criminal Code of Canada, s. 517
The evidence, representation made and the reasons given at a show cause (bail) hearing shall not be published in any document or broadcast or transmitted in any way until a preliminary hearing is held and the accused is discharged, or if the accused is ordered to stand trial, the trial has ended.

# posted by Blogger E.M : 30

BC Mary says: comments and interpretations will be especially welcome. I can't believe that Dave Basi would risk further trouble ("ordered to stand trial"?) so is this merely a legal formality? Anybody?  


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Basi gets new conditions on conditional sentence
Publication ban prevents reporting of details 

By Neal Hall

Vancouver Sun - Oct. 30, 2010 

Quote: 
 
Disgraced former ministerial aide Dave Basi was back in court Friday ...

Read the story HERE.
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Basi+gets+conditions+conditional+sentence/3751874/story.html 

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Big Media has begun using Letters-to-the-Editor the same way it uses paid, union-certified work by "accredited" journalists. I'd like to think that Big Media provides these contributors with at least a token payment. This, for example, is a good commentary and could've been expanded:


 
Different rules for criminals than for welfare fraudsters?

By B. Rock
Vancouver Sun - October 30, 2010
 
It's fascinating that B.C. Attorney-General Mike de Jong sees fit to take 317 welfare recipients to court, hoping to get back about $3 million. That averages out at less than $10,000 for each court case, if the government is successful.

To force David Basi (who, with Bob Virk, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from a lobbyist in exchange for confidential information) to pay his defence costs, the province can invoke the agreement it already has. How can de Jong think it's not worth seizing at least $352,000 of Basi's assets? He seems to forget this is taxpayers' money he's throwing away.

I guess I won't have to pay my B.C. income taxes any more. De Jong says $352,000 is minuscule, so the amount I owe each year must be infinitesimal.

B. Rock Maple Ridge

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
 
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Comments:
Good article...
Another also must read, great article on Northern Insights blog by Norm Farrell. Lots of questions that Justice Mackenzie should be answerable to in handling of the BC Rail case.
Taxpayers have not been served 'due process' but have been presented with a hefty bill for this transparent travesty of justice as far as I and others that I speak to are concerned. Suddenly in a flash $6 million dollars was served up to shut down a case that was 'heating up'. Another reason for Campbell's 9% approval rating. He's trying to change the message, but the public isn't buying it...too many lies, too many times.
 
Willcocks is an unimpeachable mainstream writer with high standards and principles. I have no doubt he would be raising the same points were any other party forming government.

Not only does he have principles, he has a keen ability to analyze political and social situations. It goes without saying that he also has fine writing skills.

I was a fan of his writing long before I began blogging.
 
Norm,

Thanks for adding your comments about Paul Willcocks. I agree 100%.

Maybe Paul's the guy to tackle the mysterious topic of Lara Dauphinee ... which made a rare appearance in today's Vancouver Sun:

BC's 100 [women] of Influence

LARA DAUPHINEE

Deputy chief of staff, executive assistant to the premier

Wherever Premier Gordon Campbell goes, Lara Dauphinee is right beside him. She is responsible for his communications branch, scheduling and correspondence. She arranges all his appearances and is the main gatekeeper in charge of access to the premier. Dauphinee, 40, started as a constituency executive and has been with Campbell throughout his years in provincial politics.


Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/influence/3751914/story.html#ixzz13q21ovqz
 
If there was a publication ban, which K. Fraser for the Province writes, did He not violate the ban by writing the added conditions?

...kfraser@theprovince.com

"Under the new conditions, Basi must advise his supervisor a week in advance of planned activities and let the supervisor know of any changes.

He must undergo a study to determine whether he must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

Basi was represented in court Friday by his lawyer, Michael Bolton, who applied for the publication ban. Andrea MacKay, a colleague of special prosecutor Bill Berardino, appeared for the Crown.

Neither side had any comment outside court.
 
Mary, back in June 2010 I found this article that may explain about bail hearings, which apparently are mandatory.


Media ban on bail evidence upheld by top court
Last Updated: Thursday, June 10, 2010 | 1:05 PM ET
The Canadian Press
One of the cases that sparked the Supreme Court of Canada challenge involved Michael White, found guilty in the 2005 murder of his pregnant wife Liana White. (CBC)
The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld a defendant's right to have an automatic publication ban on evidence at their bail hearing.

In an 8-1 decision, the high court dismissed appeals brought by the Associated Press, the CBC, the Toronto Star and the Edmonton Journal that argued judges should decide whether evidence presented at a bail hearing should be temporarily banned from publication.

The ruling upholds a Criminal Code provision that makes a publication ban at a bail hearing mandatory if an accused person requests one.

Writing for the majority, Justice Marie Deschamps said the beneficial effects of bail-hearing publication bans outweigh the negatives.

The bans "avert the disclosure of untested prejudicial information; in other words, to guarantee as much as possible trial fairness and fair access to bail," she wrote. "Although not a perfect outcome, the mandatory ban represents a reasonable compromise."

Justice Rosie Abella was the lone dissenter, saying judges should have the discretion to decide whether a ban should be imposed.
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/06/10/supreme-court-publication-ban-bail-evidence.html#ixzz13rH4jJtV
 
Further to my last comment

The decision of the above Court case say's
"Moreover, the mandatory publication ban provided for in s. 517 is not an absolute ban either on access to the courts or on publication. The provision only prohibits the publication of evidence adduced, information given, representations made, and reasons given by the justice at a bail hearing. The media can publish the identity of the accused, comment on the facts and the offence with which the accused has been charged and for which the bail application has been made, and report on the outcome of the application. Journalists are also not prevented from informing the public of the legal conditions attached to the accused’s release. The temporary nature of the ban is another important factor. The ban ends when the accused is discharged after a preliminary inquiry or at the end of the trial. In essence, it applies only with respect to the bail process, and the information it covers can eventually be made public once more complete information produced in accordance with the standards applicable to criminal trials is available. Although information revealed at the bail hearing may no longer be newsworthy by the time the media can release it, the ban cannot be said to impair freedom of expression more than is necessary. The ban may make journalists’ work more difficult, but it does not prevent them from conveying and commenting on basic, relevant information."

...
[68] The seriousness of the infringement was compellingly summarized by Rosenberg J.A. as follows:



Section 517 cuts off meaningful and informed public debate about a fundamental aspect of the administration of criminal justice, the bail system, at the very time that the debate may be most important — when the decision is made to grant or deny bail. It also hinders debate in other circumstances of great public interest, as where an accused on bail commits another, perhaps serious crime. The public is left to speculate about why the accused was released and the justice system is unable to provide a timely and meaningful response because of the statutorily imposed silence. [para. 32]





[69] The importance of public awareness of the bail decision‑making process was stressed in R. v. Hall, 2002 SCC 64, [2002] 3 S.C.R. 309, where McLachlin C.J. expressed what is to me the underlying and driving principle in considering whether the mandatory nature of the ban in s. 517 is justified:

Where justice is not seen to be done by the public, confidence in the bail system and, more generally, the entire justice system may falter. [para. 26]

http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2010/2010scc21/2010scc21.html
 
Further the decision from my last comment
[67] Section 517 of the Criminal Code automatically prevents disclosure of the judge’s reasons and of any information at a bail hearing whenever the accused requests a ban. Neither the public nor the press is prevented from actually being in court during the hearing, but what is mandatorily prohibited is the public dissemination of what is disclosed there until the trial is complete, a chronology that can take years to unfold. This has the effect, for all but the handful of people who are present in the courtroom, of denying access to information surrounding a key aspect of the criminal justice system — the decision whether or not to release an accused back into the community pending his or her trial. This denial is a profound interference with the open court principle.



[68] The seriousness of the infringement was compellingly summarized by Rosenberg J.A. as follows:



Section 517 cuts off meaningful and informed public debate about a fundamental aspect of the administration of criminal justice, the bail system, at the very time that the debate may be most important — when the decision is made to grant or deny bail. It also hinders debate in other circumstances of great public interest, as where an accused on bail commits another, perhaps serious crime. The public is left to speculate about why the accused was released and the justice system is unable to provide a timely and meaningful response because of the statutorily imposed silence. [para. 32]





[69] The importance of public awareness of the bail decision‑making process was stressed in R. v. Hall, 2002 SCC 64, [2002] 3 S.C.R. 309, where McLachlin C.J. expressed what is to me the underlying and driving principle in considering whether the mandatory nature of the ban in s. 517 is justified:

Where justice is not seen to be done by the public, confidence in the bail system and, more generally, the entire justice system may falter. [para. 26]

Worth looking at the whole decision

http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2010/2010scc21/2010scc21.html
 
If this can be included in my last comment, I meant to post this from the decision, but was afraid of losing post due to too many words.

"[38] It is worth noting that the mandatory publication ban provided for in s. 517 is not an absolute ban either on access to the courts or on publication. The provision only prohibits the publication of evidence adduced, information given, representations made, and reasons given by the justice at a bail hearing. But the media can publish the identity of the accused, comment on the facts and the offence that the accused has been charged with, and that an application for bail has been made, as well as report on the outcome of the application. Journalists are also not prevented from informing the public of the legal conditions attached to the release of the accused.



[39] The temporary nature of the ban is another important factor. The ban ends when the accused is discharged after a preliminary inquiry, or at the end of the trial. In essence, it applies only with respect to the bail process, and the information it covers can eventually be made public once more complete information produced in accordance with the standards applicable to criminal trials is available.





[40] In summary, although information revealed at the bail hearing may no longer be newsworthy by the time the media can release it, the ban cannot be said to impair freedom of expression more than is necessary. The ban is limited to a preliminary stage of the criminal justice process and is not absolute, and the information the media are prevented from publishing is untested, and is often one-sided and largely irrelevant to the search for truth. The ban may make journalists’ work more difficult, but it does not prevent them from conveying and commenting on basic, relevant information."
 
who is paying Basi's legal fees now?

Are we or is he?
 
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