Saturday, November 20, 2010

 

The wild, post-Basi/Virk results of stopping a major trial

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All This, and A Craven Mainstream Press and Media


By Robin Mathews
November 20, 2010


In British Columbia the sudden decapitation of the Gordon Campbell-led sell-out of the province is having wild results.

The people who told Campbell to go were NOT in the cabinet or the caucus.  He had all the legislature actors on their knees … or worse.  Cabinet member Bill Bennett’s “just now” full-scale attack on Gordon Campbell makes that clear.

The people who told Campbell to go were not in the Mainstream Press and Media.

We know – in a desperate attempt to save his skin – Campbell announced a 15% tax cut, and almost before the commentators could finish saying what it meant, Campbell agreed to have it withdrawn.  He (sort of) resigned.  Bill Bennett, cabinet minister, said Campbell should go now, not in some months.  Tossed from cabinet, Bennett spilled a lot of beans – what many of us knew anyhow, that Campbell is a tyrant, a despot, a bully … and a lot more.  

Bennett’s was the gut-spilling of an old hand, not of a novice suddenly offended by the reality of Liberal politics in B.C.  Bennett lived through most of the worst days while the Campbell Liberal government was stripping B.C. of wealth and tossing it to friends with fat purses.  Why didn’t Bill Bennett rise up three, five, seven years ago?  Really bad things were happening….

The fat was in the fire before Bennett caught the scent in his nostrils.  The real owners of the B.C. Liberal Party – many of whom are never seen at Liberal Party conventions, none of whom are among ordinary voters in the province - made the decision. [You might call them “the BC Bilderbergers”.] It was simple: “get rid of Campbell or wander in the desert for ten years unable to have our snouts in the taxpayer-filled public trough.  Now or never!” But why?  What brought it to a head?

It has to do – as chief priority - with the need to cover up what has gone on in B.C. since 2001 when the Liberals took power in B.C.

It has to do with the HST fiasco in which Campbell promised no HST, and then a few weeks after the election announced its implementation.

It has to do with the million dollars a year paid to Campbell’s friend and CEO of (debt buried and ownership muddled) B.C. Ferries, David Hahn.

It has to do with the truths Laila Yuile (and her quiet fellow researchers) are pulling out (like dentists using bare hands!), showing depths and depths of corruption in the awarding of contracts and the completion of highway and bridge projects – all perhaps best focussed by the term “shadow tolls”.  That means apparently non-existent tolls are paid secretly from general government revenues so the public won’t know what inflated profits contractors are getting for their work.

It has to do with the campaign of Rafe Mair and all the environmentalists against the destruction of river energy ownership, the dessication of BC Hydro, the amazing introduction of Accenture [of Enron Disaster fame] as a major player in BC Hydro affairs.  Rafe Mair and his friend Damien Gilles about to set out on a province-wide tour to expose the villainy of the Campbell Liberals in the water energy sector – that spreads icing on the cake.

It has to do with the sudden explosion in the BC Rail Scandal Basi, Virk, and Basi case as first Crown witnesses at top levels of government and business in B.C. revealed they (and most of those who would follow) could only hedge, deny, equivocate, flounder, fake, and forget – anything but frankly tell truth to the jury.  With that public revelation - that the major players in the transfer of BC Rail to the CNR have mountains to hide - came the news that the Special Prosecutor appointed in 2003 to handle a government-thick trial had been appointed in violation of the legislation  - by former partners and colleagues, the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General.

Smoke began to fan into fire, as well, as it became clear the judge on the trial, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, was refusing to lift a finger to remedy the fact that a Special Prosecutor appointed in violation of the legislation is no Special Prosecutor at all!  And so there was really no legitimate Special Prosecutor on the case!

On top of which Defence lawyers insisted the RCMP investigation was [to word it gently] “biased”.

The trial didn’t finish.  It was suddenly, brutally stopped, the door of the courtroom slammed shut.

The big boys you never see and seldom hear about made the decision that Gordon Campbell had to go.  What the Liberal government has done to B.C. since 2001 has got to be covered up.

What I’ve listed (only part of the story) would make a graduating journalism student salivate and grab for his/her blackberry as he/she rushed out the door to cover one of the stories.

But the long list of larcenies and betrayals has had almost no effect on the journalists of the Mainstream Press and Media in B.C. who avoid, deny, shamble, cover-up, joke, side-line, sleep, fake, fabulate – anything but present to the people of B.C. information they absolutely have to be given.

None other than peregrinating Rafe Mair pointed to that sleazy fact.  He chose to berate two Mainstream columnists for failing, failing, failing.  One is Mike Smyth of the Province paper.  The other is Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver Sun.

Rafe Mair is an old hand.  Yet his discovery comes late … for him, but better late than never.  I’ve always called Vaughn Palmer “Gordon Campbell’s personal representative at the Vancouver Sun”.  Mair is alarmed that now – only NOW – are they dumping on Gordon Campbell … when for all those years they found ways to suck up … to avoid gigantic issues staring them full in the face.

Then there’s the two Globe and Mail columnists who’ve also never noticed  the major matters of concern to the people of British Columbia.  And they’ve just both written columns that would get D minus in even the worst Journalism Department anywhere in Canada. The two columns should  [November 19, 2010] make any decent person want to retch.

Let’s begin with just-prize-awarded, celebrated Gary Mason.

In the face of all the above, he writes: “Gordon Campbell’s nine-plus years as Premier have been noteworthy for the extended period of calm and normalcy he brought ….”  Campbell was able, Gary Mason says  “to restore a certain amount of tranquility and respectability to the province’s political culture”.  Mason actually writes that incredible nonsense … and worse.

The problem today, Gary Mason tells his readers is that the province may return to the “turmoil … which made B,C, a running, eye-rolling joke on the national stage”.  The problem is not – for Mason – that corruption is yards deep, that the people of the province have been shafted, double-crossed, sold out, cheated, robbed ….  The problem is not that it may take decades of penury before British Columbians can return to something like sovereign ownership of their province.

The problem [for Gary Mason] is that our surface image may be tarnished!

And then he does a re-run of the province’s political history for the last 35 years or so … and the job he does is … a disgrace.  He places Glen Clark, just for instance, beside Gordon Campbell as if the two are comparable. Gary Mason completely rubs out the fact that Glen Clark faced what many insist was a fraudulent RCMP investigation and Supreme Court trial – and was, even so, declared innocent of all accusations of wrongdoing. The whole thing beginning – you’ve guessed it – in Gordon Campbell’s constituency office.

What the hell!  Who cares! Fill up the paper with trash.  Make up history or twist it out of shape. Why not?

As if they sat together to make up their columns, Rod Mickleburgh sets off on the same brainless caper.  “B.C. politics are back in wacko-land” writes Mr. Mickleburgh.  We can be sure that as long as he’s writing for the Globe and Mail that’s what B.C. readers will get. Empty-headed nonsense. Wacko-land.

Then on the subject of wacko-land, Mr. Mickleburgh avoids all of the most pressing issues in the province brought to a head by Gordon Campbell’s resignation.  That takes skill.  Like the other Mainstream Press and Media people in B.C. he has never addressed himself to those issues in a way that would be truly informative.  But he can avoid, cover-up, slip by, joke, sleep, pad, gossip, fulminate, twist history - anything but seriously inform the readership.  He’s (obviously) not paid to do that.  Can we say he’s (obviously) paid NOT to do that?

This is a time when the Mainstream Press and Media should be reviewing the hard news, re-visiting the most egregious sell-outs by the Campbell cabinet, the dirtiest and the most capricious betrayals – many mentioned in the first part of this article.  This is the time they should be putting their fingers on the worst sell-outs, mishaps, and overruns - and proposing ways to remedy all the bad things done.

They don’t. They won’t. They will touch NONE OF IT.

No wonder concerned people in the province are reading the bloggers.  The concerned people have to.  They can’t get real news anywhere else. It may be time for the people in B.C’s bloggerland to declare open war against the silly, empty, comprador clowns of the Mainstream Press and Media.  They  – almost without exception - need replacing.  They need replacing as much as the whole army of corrupt B.C. corporate/political actors the Mainstream Press and Media protect and cover for.

 
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Questions remain with the curious end to the BC Rail Trial

By Citizen Journalist 54
November 20, 2010


On Monday October 18th, I was preparing to head downtown for the next installment of testimony from Brian Kenning.  I was unable to secure transportation until the afternoon but felt that attending part of the Supreme Court hearing would still allow me to report back to the readers of BC Mary's site about the continuing inability of Mr. Kenning to recall key events about the sale of BC Rail to CN Rail.  As I began to turn on the TV to watch the noon news I heard the unthinkable.  A plea deal had been reached in the BC Rail corruption trial.

The news came out of the blue. Why now?  What had caused this deal to be reached?  Why did the Special Prosecutor offer a deal on the eve of former BC Finance Minister Gary Collins testifying?  What changed in his prosecution to offer a conditional sentence?  Did someone linked to the government approach Special Prosecutor Berardino about ending the trial?  The questions about the strange end to this case would cascade around the province for weeks.

Plea agreements have been a controversial subject among members of the judiciary, trial lawyers and the public.  The criticisms regarding plea deals are many but, ultimately, agreeing to a plea deal does not allow for a full public dissemination of the evidence and thus precludes the public from knowing all the details around the sale of BC Rail to CN Rail.

The most serious concern with the plea-bargaining process relates to the possibility that an accused who is in fact innocent will be induced to plead guilty. Thus, in the case of the plea deal with Dave Basi and Bob Virk we have a situation that an inducement was in fact offered to them in exchange for stopping the trial.  The office of the Attorney General offered to not collect the defense legal fees from Basi and Virk in exchange for the guilty pleas and Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino offered a conditional sentence.  Mr Berardino also agreed to drop the entire case against the 3rd accused, Aneal Basi.

On October 18th, Bill Berardino filed an agreed statement of facts outlining the case against the two former political aides.  In reading the statement of facts produced by the Special Prosecutor, I am left with more questions than answers.  The infamous trip to Denver to watch a NFL football game was allegedly discussed with former Finance Minister Gary Collins.  This is based on the fact that the RCMP's own search warrant state that Basi told Gary Collins about the trip!  If Minister Gary Collins knew about the trip to Denver, how can this be a crime?  What evidence was there that the trip was in fact reimbursed by Pilothouse?  Is this why the plea deal was offered before Gary Collins testified?

I also am concerned at how the evidence heard in Supreme Court does not mesh with other items in the statement of facts.  For example, Brian Kenning testified under cross examination that the information about the indicative bids contained in a Pilothouse briefing note was incorrect.  The statement of facts state that Virk gave Kieran that information.  Did Virk get convicted for giving incorrect and false information?

Basi was alleged to have received monies from Bornmann for "political favours".  What does this mean?  Where are the details to describe these favours?  Both Basi and Virk were also charged with accepting "meals".  Where are those benefits in the statement of facts?  Were those false allegations?  What else is missing?

The legal fees in this case and the costs associated with this trial are not insignificant.  The total cost of the trial were approximately $18 Million with the majority of the cost going to cover the fees paid to the Special Prosecutor (the $18 Million figure does not including the millions of dollars spent on the investigation by the RCMP, the trial management costs from May 17th to October 18, 2010, and other related court costs).  The estimated breakdown is as follows:

$1-2 Million for "document management costs" - whatever that means
$3 Million for defense counsel - total of roughly $6 Million
$10 Million and counting for the fees paid to Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino and his associates Janet Winteringham, Andi Mackay, Michael Sobkin, and Brent Olthius.  All appeared at times during the 7 year prosecution of this case.  (It should be noted that Janet Winteringham and Andi Mackay have opened their own law practice in a downtown Vancouver building owned by the Chairman of the CN Rail board, David Maclean.)

Let us compare Mr. Berardino's legal billings to another BC mega trial.  The case of convicted serial killer Wille Pickton involved the mass murder of 26 women, and took 6 years to prosecute.  The prosecution legal costs associated with Pickton's trial was approximately $9 million.  How on earth can Mr. Berardino and his associates bill over a million dollars more than a team of 10 prosecutors who worked full time for 6 years on a case where Wille Pickton is now known as Canada’s worst serial killer?  Where is the transparency of the legal costs associated to this trial?  The taxpayers of this province paid Bill Berardino and his team over $10 Million to have Basi and Virk sit at home and end the full airing of evidence into the sale of BC Rail to CN Rail?  Really?

On the afternoon of October 18th, Mr. Berardino called into radio station CKNW 980 to defend his delaying the case for 7 years.  He argued that Justice Bennett made an error in law and he had a duty to drag this case out for years to appeal that decision all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.  In the same breath, Mr. Berardino tried to defend the plea deal as a way to save court costs.  Unbelievable.  It is clear from the court record that Mary and Robin have so dilligently researched that the cause of the 7 year delay falls at the feet of Bill Berardino, who was appointed Special Prosecutor on Dec 11, 2003.

I believe that Mr. Berardino and his associates handling of this case, Berardino's questionable appointment, the manner of which he bungled disclosure and the ultimate decision to not prosecute others involved in the entire BC Rail affair should be part of a public inquiry.  Otherwise, the questions will remain about this sordid affair and the public will continue to be left in the dark about the backroom deal that ended a trial about a backroom deal.

Citizen Journalist from 54

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CJ54 adds:  I hope to do a follow-up piece based upon the RCMP and Special Prosecutor requesting all documents relating to the sale of BC Rail to CN Rail be returned.


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Comments:
Brava, Robin, Brava! No one could have said it better. Rafe's post was exceptional as well.

Let me relate a story. Recently while chatting with another mother at the playground,she asked what I do.I told her, mentioned my blog,and she began asking questions about what kind of things I write about. I told her, and she was very intrigued,and excited to hear there was an entirely other world of news "out there."

Her words were: " You know,I always say to my husband when I look at the pages of the paper, there must be more than this! What is really going on in the world, our world, locally? Now I know! "

She had no idea about the Tyee,or Sean Holman,or Bill T. or any of us,and it is safe to say that now she is completely hooked.She still reads the paper, but when she is done,she reads all the alternative sites, and has begun exploring the blogosphere as we know one does from blog to blog.And she finds really compelling news,stories and opinions that give a more complete and multi-dimensional view to her world.

I trust people are intelligent to sort fact from fiction.

I also find that it is perfectly fine to mix opinion with facts and truth, which I do all the time,as do others.Something which a reporter who simply reports the events as they occurred can't or must not do. Reporters and columnists or commentators are two totally different things.

Thank you for your kind words,my blog is definately a group effort,with input from many sources.Even when information is not used for a story,it is helpful with respect to other stories,and so tips and notes passed along to me are vital!
There is a veritable army out here,and it lovely to see people from all political backgrounds step up for democracy and truth.
 
Brava, Robin, Brava! No one could have said it better. Rafe's post was exceptional as well.

Let me relate a story. Recently while chatting with another mother at the playground,she asked what I do.I told her, mentioned my blog,and she began asking questions about what kind of things I write about. I told her, and she was very intrigued,and excited to hear there was an entirely other world of news "out there."

Her words were: " You know,I always say to my husband when I look at the pages of the paper, there must be more than this! What is really going on in the world, our world, locally? Now I know! "

She had no idea about the Tyee,or Sean Holman,or Bill T. or any of us,and it is safe to say that now she is completely hooked.She still reads the paper, but when she is done,she reads all the alternative sites, and has begun exploring the blogosphere as we know one does from blog to blog.And she finds really compelling news,stories and opinions that give a more complete and multi-dimensional view to her world.

I trust people are intelligent to sort fact from fiction.

I also find that it is perfectly fine to mix opinion with facts and truth, which I do all the time,as do others.Something which a reporter who simply reports the events as they occurred can't or must not do. Reporters and columnists or commentators are two totally different things.

Thank you for your kind words,my blog is definately a group effort,with input from many sources.Even when information is not used for a story,it is helpful with respect to other stories,and so tips and notes passed along to me are vital!
There is a veritable army out here,and it lovely to see people from all political backgrounds step up for democracy and truth.
 
Thanks Robin Mathews.


You know that old saying.....

"The Victors write the history"

Maybe it will take a rash of grassy knoll events to change things.

Lastly, Campbell was honoured as builder of the decade Thursday night by the road builders association.

What am I missing..Donald Trump is a builder, what did Campbell build, design, pay for?....Absolutely nothing.

You get three standing ovations and a big party for spending our money, and the next generation`s money!

Time to kick it a notch...Thanks again for your raw analytical passion!
 
Well said Robin. Thankyou for taking the time to put your thoughts down on paper - it is very much appreciated.
You have managed to show just how ineefective and petty, the Vancouver and the Province have become since 2001. Sure seems like they have been bought out by the BC Liberal government doesn't it.

Great stuff - please continue doing it.

Thanks
 
One has to remember that Mair was fired from Brand-X radio on Campbell's orders, through a well orchestrated sexism charge. Campbell and his handlers had to rid 'NW of Mair because he could not be bought off.

The mainstream media are later day Quislings, who have sold their souls to the devil and may they rot in hell.
 
In 1977 I went to see Iggy Pop perform at the PNE gardens. The opening band, their first tour, was Blondie. Iggy is/was one of the world's greatest performers and he didn't disappoint - the crowd had him back for 3 encores and still cheered for a few more minutes.

Blondie was received so-so, nobody really cheered for them and I know this absolutely for sure because they came back for an encore anyway and the guitar player came back on stage and said "Thanks a lot kid" because only one person had been calling for an encore and it was obvious.

The next day I read the Sun (I think) concert review by their music editor Vaughn Palmer and he wrote that the audience adored Blondie and couldn't get enough while Iggy was ho-hum. The exact opposite of the real truth.

There was quite a push to making Blondie into a star at that time and the day I read that column was the day when I first realized Vaughn Palmer could be bought (or so it is alleged). I see no reason to change my mind now.
 
I too was at that Blondie concert, which was fab; I am wondering where gregb was?

The fans were out of control in love with Blondie, and Iggie Pop as far as I recall, was an emaciated after thought. The only reaspon he was allowed more time was becuase of techical reasons, that is, Blondie wasnt ready to come on stage.
 
Great article by CJ 54. I hope that we can read more!
 
Great piece Robin, as usual!

Also it is a real treat to hear from Citizen54 again as well. This little added note is certainly fascinating,it must be a coinkydinky thingie!

"(It should be noted that Janet Winteringham and Andi Mackay have opened their own law practice in a downtown Vancouver building owned by the Chairman of the CN Rail board, David Maclean.)"

And the following should be troubling to all taxpayers, especially when one recalls that one of the "virtues" of plea bargaining is the savings in court and other legal resources - or so those lawyer types tend to claim!

"Let us compare Mr. Berardino's legal billings to another BC mega trial. The case of convicted serial killer Wille Pickton involved the mass murder of 26 women, and took 6 years to prosecute. The prosecution legal costs associated with Pickton's trial was approximately $9 million. How on earth can Mr. Berardino and his associates bill over a million dollars more than a team of 10 prosecutors who worked full time for 6 years on a case where Wille Pickton is now known as Canada’s worst serial killer?"

Of course a comparison of the press coverage of the Pickton trial vs. the BC Rail Corruption Trial is damning as well........They ran daily features on the Pig Farm Trial even when it was in recess - meanwhile, it was difficult to even know if anything was going on in Club 54, unless Lucinda and Pointy Kirk thought it was relevant (and mostly they didn't).
 
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