Sunday, January 30, 2011

 

BC Rail: The list of unanswered questions is a mile long.

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BC Rail: No questions? You bet there are questions

Posted on The Real Story
BC’s media pundits just don’t get BC Rail.  And that means they are selling British Columbians short.

{Snip} ...

The list of unanswered questions is a mile long.  And depends not only on rumour and conjecture but evidence gathered by both the RCMP and the defence through disclosure, sworn affidavits, patterns of behavior that haven’t been adequately explained and established facts that counter the government message.

Hansard is the first place to go to find unanswered questions.  There’s a list of one hundred questions sitting on the order paper, based on questions the government refused to answer over six years, claiming the case was before the courts.

Stonewally wasn’t just the NDP’s name for Wally Oppal.  It’s the public’s name because it rang true.

And then there are the questions that stem from the evidence that has been disclosed to the court in the five-year fight for disclosure.   That evidence goes well beyond rumour and conjecture.

We could start with something I’m sure some would call tangential – the sworn affidavit of Rosemary Hayes regarding the destruction of documents relevant to the case.  It’s never been disclosed how many documents were destroyed and more importantly, the name of the mysterious senior official who ordered their destruction in the months leading up to the 2009 election.

And there’s the sworn affidavit of George Copley that revealed that the Deputy to the Premier was provided with evidence and RCMP questions prior to RCMP interviews with two cabinet ministers, breaching the evidentiary protocol established by Chief Justice Dohm.

Here are a few of the questions that flow from that pattern of facts – What impact did that breach have on the questioning of Collins [Minister of Finance] and Reid [Minister of Transportation] and the direction of the investigation?  Is there any connection between the breach, the questioning and Collins' surprise resignation three weeks later?  Most importantly, did that breach constitute contempt of court or obstruction of justice as at least one RCMP official has implied?

There are also the recent questions about Christy Clark’s connections to the deal, a connection Clark denied in the Legislature.  Documents Alex Tsakumis published last week leads one to ask “Did Clark lie.  And if so, why?”

Keith Baldrey was quick to say that those documents “are not corroborated…. haven’t stood up in court…”  But that’s ridiculous.   If every document the media reported on was required to stand up in court before it was published newspapers would be blank.

Just last week the media was in a frenzy reporting allegations from Harry Lali – now there’s a credible source – about NDP membership forms, without seeing a single form or waiting to see whether the allegations stand up in court.  Did that prevent the media from reporting?  Of course not.

That line of argument is disingenuous in the extreme.

It’s clear that dozens of documents that have been revealed and leaked come straight out of the police investigations and the pre-trial and trial processes.  Their provenance is not in question.  For example no one – not even Christy Clark – has provided any reason to question the  documents Tsukamis has released.  The same can be said for all the documents the defence used in the trial and pre-trial.  And it cannot be denied that they raise troubling questions that stand unanswered and therefore cast doubt over the fairness of the sale, the direction of the investigation and the conduct of the prosecution.

That harms trust in our key institutions.
The final nail in the coffin is the way in which the trial ended.

The government has still not offered a coherent and believable explanation of how the supposedly separate arms of prosecution and government managed to collaborate on the offer of reduced sentencing and continued immunity without talking or knowing what each other was doing.  Somehow, a deal that ended the trial at a crucial and dangerous moment for the government materialized out of thin air.

Who set the Deputy AG and the Finance Deputy to work to overturn government indemnity policy in order to get a deal?  Who approved their decision to overturn the policy to the tune of over $6 million?
Why did the Special Prosecutor drop his insistence on hard time for the slap on the wrist sentence of house arrest with generous exceptions?  How did the deal get done between government, the defence and Special Prosecutor, because it took all three to make it happen?

The way the trial ended had British Columbians up in arms.  The most common word heard in the week after the announcement was ‘corruption’.
Rightly so.

What I don’t get is why pundits are so ready to brush their questions and anger aside.

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BC Mary comment:  And this is precisely why British Columbia must have a Public Inquiry into the highly questionable  sell-off of BC Rail. 

Which reminds me ... remember this stunning little item? ... and it was only a month later that the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial was stopped in its tracks. 


The Scandal That Hides a Scandal

by Rob Wipond

Focus online - Sept. 16, 2010

[Quote]...
During the same testimony yesterday, it was revealed that a former BC Rail president had successfully sued BC Rail for wrongful dismissal. He'd complained that, since the Campbell Liberals had come to power, BC Rail had developed a "failure strategy". Basically, he'd argued in his lawsuit, the company had started deliberately running itself into the ground and intentionally losing money in order to help publicly justify Campbell's plan to sell BC Rail to the private sector. He'd complained about it, and been fired. And then he'd been given a big settlement.

That's very stunning evidence to indict the Campbell Liberals -- especially in light of similar accusations more recently that the Campbell Liberals are also deliberately trying to make our health care system and our education system fail (see also this month's Focus feature), in order to justify privatization ... [end of quote]


Visit the story for its embedded links. http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/96

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Some of the questions which were asked in court ... 

... May 19 [2010]: Campbell's chief of staff Martyn Brown denies that CN Rail's campaign donations to the B.C. Liberal party played a role in the company being chosen as the winning bidder for BC Rail in 2003.

May 20: Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough alleges that his client, Virk, was repeatedly told by Campbell and Brown to "keep his mouth shut" and they would "take care of him."

June 9: Brown denies that he told Virk to leak a document to the media. He also rejects a defence suggestion that Campbell would have told Virk to leak the same document.

June 10: Brown repeatedly denies suggestions in court that Campbell decided to sell BC Rail to CN Rail before a public bidding process even began.

June 15: Brown admits that it was not "good optics" when the co-chairman of the B.C. Liberals 2001 election campaign took a consulting contract with BC Rail four months after the election.

Brown could offer no reason why Patrick Kinsella would contact BC Rail and offer to sell his services and "political savvy."

and then, whammo! the trial is shut down. Over. Finished. 

Oct. 18: Basi and Virk plead guilty. The Crown stays the charges against Aneal Basi.

Read more

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/real-estate/Timeline+tells+tale+Rail+linked+case/3692162/story.html?id=3692162#ixzz1CcmYg6Sl

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Cross-posted from comments, with thanks to Evan Symons:


BC Rail's operating performance actually peaked in the last 2 years it was owned by the provincial government, largely because of the policies implemented by Mark Mudie, the former president who was fired.

From page 3 of the 2003 BC Rail annual report found here:
http://bcrco.com/2003report.pdf

"Overall, the Company performed admirably on the strategic plan announced in 2002 to focus on being a key transportation link for the province’s export-oriented rail customers. Operating income for the year was $78.5 million compared to $65.5 million in 2002. Revenues remained constant while expenses were reduced by more than $15 million.”

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Noted in passing, this comment on Huffington Post in U.S.A. ... 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Libertarian09/omar-suleiman-egypt-vice-_n_815805_75718471.html


      “A few years ago here in BC they 'privatized' BC Rail, what had been a 'Crown Corporation', and in the week preceeding the official announcement something like 30% of the stocks in BC Rail changed hands. It has since been revealed that many government officials, some of them in the Provincial leadership and people they are associated with, dumped their holdings. When the announcement was made, the share prices plummeted and many of the ones who had just sold their shares were lined up to buy them back.

A clear case of 'insider trading' occurred, within the government itself and not only the fact that nothing will come of it but the casual acceptance by the public infuriates me.

It is the same here, while the economists and politician s are telling me the recession is over and the economy is growing none of the jobs lost locally have returned, everyone is just as concerned for their job security and a huge number of them are going to be f**ked when the interest rates go up. And up they will go, we have already had the Governor of the Bank of Canada warn that rate hikes are coming and when the do "they will hit fast and hard" ...

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Comments:
BC Rail's operating performance actually peaked in the last 2 years it was owned by the provincial government, largely because of the policies implemented by Mark Mudie, the former president who was fired.

From page 3 of the 2003 BC Rail annual report found here: http://bcrco.com/2003report.pdf
"Overall, the Company performed admirably on the strategic plan announced in 2002 to focus on being a key transportation link for the province’s export-oriented rail customers. Operating income for the year was $78.5 million compared to $65.5 million in 2002. Revenues remained constant while expenses were reduced by more than $15 million.”
 
Rob Wipond is one of the best journalists around, anywhere.

Every one of his articles is a must-read for me.

So, this former BC Rail president got a "big settlement". Not begrudging him his dues, given his noble intentions and the price he paid in having been fired for trying to protect the interests of BC citizens, but guess who paid for it? You and me.

This settlement is just another cost to the taxpayers of BC just like the Basi/Virk payoff was, all thanks to Gordon Campbell's unlawful rampage through our province, pillaging and plundering as he goes.

And every time this government takes another ill-conceived or unlawful action such as this, those dollars are being taken away from the programs and services that are being stripped from children, seniors, students, people in need of medical care, abused spouses, and on and on and on.
 
Re:

And there’s the sworn affidavit of George Copley that revealed that the Deputy to the Premier was provided with evidence and RCMP questions prior to RCMP interviews with two cabinet ministers, breaching the evidentiary protocol established by Chief Justice Dohm.


Is that the Deputy Premier that's meant, or the Deputy Chief of Staff? I'm thinking it's most obviously the former....

At present in Wikipedia a BC Liberal campaign worker is conducting an edit war against mention of BC Rail from Christy Clark's article, and has also tried to dirty up the Adrian Dix and Glen Clark articles (Fast Ferries, Casinogate, the usual bad-old-NDP shibboleths we're familiar with in blogspace).

The SPA (single-purpose-account editor) doing this is maintaining over and over that Christy was not involved/subject to the investigation into BC Rail, but Copley's affidavit above is proof that's anything but the case....is it online somewhere so I can cite it? (I normally can't cite blogs there...). Also when the Clark-Marrissen household was searched that was by warrant, no? Despite Coleman's order an advance warning be given to them, it was still a warrant, no? And was it her name on the warrant, or Marrissen's?

The same SPA is also trying to remove (repeatedly) any mention of Bruce Clark....so far as I know mention of him being in the same bribery game as Basi and Virk is so far only in the Bornmann warrants/depositions and/or Basi's diaries....the Bornmann warrants are citable, the diaries may not be....other than I could say "it has been reported in memos alleged to be those of Dave Basi...."

Wikipedia is becoming a battleground, let's put it that way; unlike the Sun and Province, they will not find it so easy to control and people who will become involved will be highly-nonpartisan and "from away" and resistant to fudging what sources say, and deleting citable information....the more citable information available to add to the various connected articles there, the more coverage there can be there....there's more than one of me, there's only one of them (so far).....I wish I could just write history articles instead of having to deal with spin doctor soaping though....the conduct of the SPA in question has violated numerous Wikipedia guidelines, including very ironically WP:COI, the conflict-of-interest guidelines, and also made veiled legal threats; both are big no-no's as is fidding with accuracy in BLPs (biographies of living persons) with deliberately defamatory additions to the Dix and Glen Clark articles....all the while accusing me of breaking the same guidelines, apparently in an effort to get me blocked so he can have his way with "editing" the articles as he sees fit....clearly someone from Clark's campaign team.

Anyway thanks for the ammo folks, it's gonna help....links if any to Copley's affidavit and anything in non-blog webprint about the Rosemary Hayes thing would be great....that Huffington Post thing is great, but unfortunately I definitely can't cite comments to a blog or news article, though certain blogs (like this one and Laila's) I've gotten away with citing....I wish Ariana Huffington would wake up and smell the manure, and realize it involves some of the biggest players in the US money markets (Gates, Buffet, Cheney, etc)....we need Amy Goodman to come back for another try at the border, I think.....
 
A few years ago here in BC they 'privatized' BC Rail, what had been a 'Crown Corporation', and in the week preceeding the official announcement something like 30% of the stocks in BC Rail changed hands. It has since been revealed that many government officials, some of them in the Provincial leadership and people they are associated with, dumped their holdings. When the announcement was made, the share prices plummeted and many of the ones who had just sold their shares were lined up to buy them back.

A clear case of 'insider trading' occurred, within the government itself and not only the fact that nothing will come of it but the casual acceptance by the public infuriates me.


If those were on US stockmarkets, this is clearly a matter for the Securities and Exchange Commission and/or a Congressional/Senate Hearing. If on a Canadian exchange, given that the railway was then a US company after the sale, it may still be an SEC matter though on a foreign stock exchange, by foreign stock-holders....anyone know if WMG were one of the stock-holders before the announcement? Because if Americans were involved in that activity, it's definitely in the SEC's bailiwick. Who is it that governs conduct on Canadian exchanges? Not that the Tories are going to look into this .... anything but; probably some of their own people were involved....
 
I'm informed that "Deputy to the Premier" means not Deputy Premier or Deputy Chief of Staff, but Deputy Minister to the Premier. How many deputies does a sherriff need anyway?
 
Jessica McDonald, Deputy Minister to the Premier???

http://www.bcndpcaucus.ca/files/BCRaffadavits/Krogcorres.pdf
 
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