Monday, January 10, 2011
Basi, Virk, and Basi. Appearance and Reality: Things are not what they seem
Ten minutes in courtroom 53 (Basi, Virk, and Basi), and one hour in courtroom 55 (Polygamy and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms).
Appearance and Reality: Things are not what they seem.
By Robin Mathews
January 10, 2011
Thanks to EM I went to the court this morning, but the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter was not scheduled until 2:00 in the afternoon. And so I dropped into courtroom 55 where learned and serious arguments are being heard on the meaning of the freedom of religion clauses in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (with special reference to the Bountiful B.C. Christian community practicing bigamy. Is it a crime?)
The Supreme Court of British Columbia seemed at its best. Presided over by Chief Justice Robert Bauman, deliberations were proceeding at stately and unhurried pace. Appearing for the Minister of Justice, Canada, as an expert witness, was Professor John Witte of Emory College in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Being from the United States, he was perfectly comfortable speaking for a full half hour about himself and his outstanding qualifications. Then (an obvious advocate for the criminalization of bigamy) he discoursed on the Greeks, the Romans, Roman Law, the Middle Ages and Canon Law - referring to Aristotle and the Old Testament. It was a bracing and satisfactory hour.
Our culture at its best, you might say.
But behind the appearance is the reality of (former Attorney General) Wally Oppal who violated the legislation governing the appointment of Special Prosecutors, tried to force a trial through the Supreme Court against Bountiful bigamists, and was caught "Special Prosecutor shopping" (going from lawyer to lawyer until he could find one who would do what he - not the law - wanted).
The trial was stopped immediately upon that knowledge. A case was then taken against the accusers of the two men from Bountiful and a ruling made that "the government" had acted improperly. I don't know the final outcome of the civil suit against Wally Oppal - or if the final outcome has been decided.
And so Chief Justice Robert Bauman is - you might say - a hen, sitting on a soiled nest. Which goes on being soiled. Despite the unseemly behaviour of former Attorney General Wally Oppal - nonetheless - he was very recently appointed as chief inquirer (at comfortable pay, you may be sure) into the process of investigation (or lack thereof) of the murders of countless women from the downtown Eastside in the Robert Picton, pig farm murders. You or I would have been ruled out absolutely from such an appointment after the disgrace of Special Prosecutor shopping as Attorney General.
But not Wally Oppal.
Seated in the court, listening, was one of the Prosecution team in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case. That was Janet Winteringham who appeared later in the ten minutes of court time in Courtroom 53. At around two o'clock she reported (to Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie) three applications to the court, which will be taken up on January 16.
Chief among the applications was one to order all documentation held by the Defence in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case be "returned" to the Crown. Simple. The hearing took only a few minutes.
Under questioning outside the courtroom, Ms. Winteringham said the application is for all materials. She said the move is not at all an unusual one. She said usually the materials would go to the RCMP, but in this case the application is to have them held by the Crown.
Asked how long the Crown would hold such a large volume of material, she replied that - usually - until the judge orders something else (to be destroyed or other). I referred to a possible Public Inquiry, and she seemed to be confident they would be available.
They would, I presume, be available for further criminal investigations (of others) (perhaps cabinet ministers), though questions weren't asked about that.
Our culture at its best, you might say.
Except that the "Crown" in this case, the Special Prosecutor, William Berardino, was appointed in a violation of the legislation governing the appointment of Special (Crown) Prosecutors. And when Chief Justice Robert Bauman and Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie were informed of that wrongful appointment they informed me - through officers of the court - that they refused to have anything to do with it or to seek any remedy. Because they had not had a hand in the appointment, I was told - they would do nothing.
That complicates things. There was Ms. Winteringham today - of the Special Prosecution team - asking on behalf of the wrongfully appointed Special Prosecutor, to have all the disclosure materials in the hands of the Defence returned to the care of the person who should not be the Special Prosecutor because he was wrongfully appointed.
To add a complication, the judge to whom the application is being made, is one who refused (approached formally twice) to seek any remedy for the wrongful appointment of the Special Prosecutor.
As I see it, a wrongfully appointed Special Prosecutor is applying to a judge who has failed in her responsibility to law, justice, and the people of British Columbia to have key, sensitive,and central materials in the BC Rail Scandal placed in the hands of "the Crown" - that is, the hands of William Berardino.
As Ms. Winteringham said, the trial is over and, in effect, we move to the next step.
Our culture at its best, you might say.
Except there is hardly a British Columbia school child who does not know that the end of the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial was horrendous. A deal was struck, the responsibility for which was passed - like a burning coal - from hand to hand to hand from Prosecution to elements of Gordon Campbell government until there was almost nobody unburned.
The trial was not finished. It was aborted ... with a long line of Crown witnesses unexamined and with the accused never having taken the stand.
In the court of public opinion - the end of the trial was a rape of justice. And everything ... every question of importance in the eight year, twenty million dollar exercise - remains ... unanswered. The real questions about guilt and innocence have not been answered. Many, many British Columbians believe the people of the province have been cheated and treated with contempt.
But ... then ... this is British Columbia ... and the B.C. Supreme Court.
Next hearing on January 16, 2011.
By Mark Hume
The Globe and Mail - Jan. 10, 2011
Mark Hume's excellent article is HERE, with Bobby Virk's reasons why the Defence must keep these documents in their own care for future use, such as in a Public Inquiry.
Mark Hume says that the next hearing is February 16, 2011. (!)
There seems to be a technical or human glitch in that Robin Mathews' article was posted multiple times. Also I must correct Robin on his reference to the "Bountiful B.C. Christian community". In fact the religious group is a fundamentalist sect of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Thanks as always.
The strange, unintended repetition of the posting was corrected almost immediately. But thanks for the warning ... with only about 10% vision in my left eye these days, it's easier than ever to make mistakes.
I'm not sure that a "BC Christian community" needs correcting ... But thanks, too, for that.
Now ... how about applying that sharp scrutiny to finding the future dates of the Basi-Virk hearings ... and did you see NVG's comment in which he found two official versions of BCSC's schedule for today?
After all that has been said and questioned by so many I am astounded that they carry on in this manner of business as usual when nothing could be farther from the truth. I think i am your average taxpayer trying to do right and work for a goal of fairness and sharing responsibility to my province and the people in it, but something has definitely changed in my thought process and I am now feeling used and being played as a fool.There has been a line crossed and a trust broken.
More so every day it is becoming apparent that it is them suppressing us and letting us know that they don't care what we want or think, we are just their source of money and nothing else. Well the buck stops here!
I don't think I am alone in my thinking nor do I think i am wrong in it. I can bend so far but I am not willing to be broken so we are at a point in time where change must come or unknown and irreversible challenges will lead to conflicts never known here.Today is just an insulting finger to us all.I am appalled, I was hoping someone whom we are paying to protect us would actually do just that!
But not Wally Oppal."
If I recall correctly Wally is also inappropriate for this position as he was AG during at least part of the investigation and/or trial of Pickton and managed to make some very inappropriate public comments, even though it was "before the courts." "It's before the courts" only matters, I guess, if it might be about wrongdoing by BC liaRs!
The aboriginal community, the main victims of the monster Pickton and his perhaps unindicted co-conspirators certainly aren't happy with his appointment and for good reason.
I really have to wonder about some of the lawyers and others in the BC so-called Justice System, like, did they actually sit for their bar exam? Or were they able to hire somebody with a brain to take the test for them?
Truly a great pity that the same set of real, high and proper standards do not apply here in British Columbia.
The provincial initials "BC" are now apt to represent "Bloody Corrupted" where the government and the judiciary are concerned.
The sooner the RECALL INITIATIVE succeeds, the sooner we can start to sort out the horrible mess that Pinocchio Gordon"the liar"Campbell has left behind. Just maybe we will see him incarcerated along with other everyday criminals - sharing a cell with them also. Perish the thought (grins).
Because there is no need NOT TO RETURN them - the matters before the courts, the exhibits and the trial transcripts are matters of PUBLIC RECORD and are accessible to one and all - in most cases on line.
That is what's wrong with the arguments advanced by the Crown in this case - because the material has NOT BEEN made public - for a variety of reasons that are no longer of any consequence since the case is now over and no one's rights are being protected any longer.
Justice, to be done, must be seen to have been done - it's a hoary old legal maxim - but on that principle rests the quality, character, trust and credibility of the whole system.
Not only has the government in this case failed to live up to its obligations - the legal system and the principles of equal justice before the law have been savaged.
One hopes that the arguments of counsel for the intervenors in the case will be persuasive and the judge on the bench will, at long last, rise to the challenge of defending the public interest.
Early on, Justice Bennett made a commitment to defend that interest - it's a long time since that happened and the disposition of this matter has fallen very far from that goal....
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