Wednesday, January 05, 2011
“in the light of the coming January 11, 2011 appearance of the Crown before Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie to request return (to the Crown) of all disclosure documents held by the Defence” in the BC Rail Scandal Basi, Virk, and Basi case.
PART THREE. A Society in Breakdown. British Columbia’s Hip-High Corruption.
By Robin Mathews
January 5, 2011
This series is written “in the light of the coming January 11, 2011 appearance of the Crown before Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie to request return (to the Crown) of all disclosure documents held by the Defence” in the BC Rail Scandal Basi, Virk, and Basi case.
Parts One and Two made allegations that the “three brown men” are racist “set-ups” to cover for some guilty (white) superiors; that the Special Prosecutor was appointed in violation of the legislation governing appointments, and so is illegitimately in position; that the Associate Chief Justice, judge on the case – refusing to remedy the improper appointment - is, herself, improperly sitting; and that the behaviour of judges throughout the process of eight years – and perhaps before that – casts a pall over the British Columbia Supreme Court.
The first two parts look at the convicted, the Crown, and the judiciary involved.
The role of the RCMP – to continue the examination in this third part - is one of the most troubling aspects of corruption in British Columbia, and one of the hardest to address. That is because the RCMP is a large force possessing many, many fine and principled officers who probably disapprove of wrong-doing among their fellow Horsemen more even than ordinary people in British Columbia do.
Apart from the BC Rail Scandal – upon which this series focusses – the RCMP is in disarray … across the country. Its previous top officer, Juliano Zaccardelli, had to resign in disgrace. The trigger to that resignation was probably the question put to him in a Parliamentary Committee when an MP asked him if he had perjured himself this time before the Committee … or was it the last time he appeared, a few days earlier?
Zaccardelli’s replacement – a wholly political appointment of a non-police person – has had more than one attempted insurrection in his ranks. Reported to be a bad tempered egotist who swaggers through the top offices shouting at and insulting men and women of long service, William Elliott was recently complained about by colleagues in an attempt to have him removed. But since he is a servant of the Stephen Harper regime and ideology (more than a top police officer) he stays.
Imagine the “culture”, the “ambiance”, the day to day mood at work in Ottawa headquarters.
In British Columbia the public wakened to the rot in the Force with Robert Dziekanski’s death at the hands of RCMP officers at Vancouver International Airport on October 14, 2007.
To sum up the story very quickly, a whole set of lies was filed as police reporting of the event, and only an accidental videotape of Dziekanski being killed revealed the reporting to be a tapestry of intended falsehood.
Before the vidiotape appeared, the event was one that required firm professional handling and investigation. Instead, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, B.C. top officer Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, premier Gordon Campbell, and, apparently, all other B.C. top officers fell in (knowingly or unknowingly) behind a shabby, sleazy, collegial cover-up of a heinous act and a pack of lies, expressing ‘sympathy’ for the officers involved in the death.
We know that Gary Bass made a public apology to Robert Dziekanski’s mother – and then sent an internal memo to assure officers it wasn’t really an apology.
That is only one story of remarkable RCMP solidarity in the face of highly suspicious (and often criminal) actions on the part of officers. The stories from which present public feelings about the RCMP come are usually of the Robert Dziekanski or the Ian Bush kind – individual outrages solidly supported, and covered up, by top officers in the Force.
We would be wrong to think those events are not related to public outrages of a much more complex, organized, political, and “criminal” kind.
The ‘framing’ of Glen Clark, former BC NDP premier was, I believe, facilitated by an RCMP investigation of highly dubious nature. By design or accident, it accompanied a Mainstream Press and Media campaign of vilification, and then a trial to which I refer in PART TWO. The RCMP portion of the anti-Glen Clark campaign may be seen as part of a large, reactionary operation intended to destabilize the existing democratic balance of the province and move all significantly to the Right.
Hearing reports of improper investigation and inexplicable delays at the time, I filed a complaint with the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. The only thing about the response to my complaint that wasn’t a farce was the “report” I received three years later, saying that RCMP officers had “wrongly” terminated the investigation of their behaviour. Three years later! The Commission didn’t say it demanded a re-opening and completion of the investigation, but that it would leave to the “discretion” of the RCMP whether or not the Force would reopen the investigation.
Presenting, as RCMP told me at the time, twenty-eight volumes of evidentiary material (carefully constructed out of almost nothing, I suspect), they provided the fuel for a 136 day trial that cleared Glen Clark completely – but not before assisting materially in his political destruction.
Questions about the behaviour of the RCMP in the BC Rail Scandal (which has followed) abound.
We know that highly placed civil servants discussed the coming search warrant “raids” on B.C. legislature offices with RCMP – none keeping any record of discussions. We know that strategy meetings were held with RCMP officers, one at least at which Beverly Busson - then RCMP top officer for B.C. - was in attendance. We know that when the “raids” on the offices of Basi and Virk were only just being completed, (by his own testimony) Martyn Brown, Gordon Campbell’s Chief of Staff, spoke on the telephone with Gary Bass, soon to be top B.C. RCMP officer.
Clearly, officers of the government were in close collaboration with RCMP. We know RCMP sought out the Solicitor General of the day, Rich Coleman, to discuss the matter – not the Speaker of the legislature. We may assume that all of the cabinet members involved in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR were knowledgeable about the coming raids on Dave Basi’s and Bob Virk’s offices…through the contacts I have mentioned.
We know that as late as December 12, 2003, 16 days before the search warrant “raids” on the B.C. legislature and elsewhere that Gary Collins, finance minister, was under RCMP investigation and surveillance. Those are words insisted upon by Defence counsel. We know Mr. Collins was carefully shadowed by RCMP when he met with Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson of OmniTRAX, a U.S. Rail corporation bidding for BC Rail.
We know that bidders other than CNR became aware a “fix was in” to deliver BC Rail to the CNR, and that B.C. cabinet feared there would be no bidders left but CN. It is alleged that OmniTRAX was to be offered a “consolation prize” if it would pretend to stay in the bidding. That, it is alleged, is one of the major reasons for the dinner at the Villa de Lupo in Vancouver on December 12 involving Gary Collins, Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson.
What we know next is (a) that all surveillance of Gary Collins ended very soon after without any record of the termination. We know that at the end of the search warrant “raids” on the offices of Dave Basi and Bob Virk, (b) the suddenly, firmly established RCMP line was that no elected officials were under investigation (or would be).
That is astonishing in the light of the fact that further investigation continued from December 28, 2003 until late December, 2004 when charges were laid against the accused “three brown men”. What went on in that full year of “investigation”? Nothing has been disclosed.
The RCMP was able to announce – before investigation followed from the widely spread search warrant “raids” of twenty people on Dec. 28, 2003 - that no elected officials were under investigation or would be. That almost has to mean that from December, 2003, the RCMP would not examine evidence that implicated any elected officials in wrongdoing, and, that if police came upon evidence, they would ignore it or brush it aside ... for a full year before charges were laid against the three accused.
That would mean that if Dave Basi was ordered by Finance Minister Gary Collins to deliver confidential information to Bruce Clark (lobbyist for Washington Marine), Dave Basi would be investigated but Gary Collins would not.
The search warrant document of December 2003 finally released (heavily censored) on September 10, 2004, reports that though – in effect – eighteen more people than Basi and Virk had warrants served on them, and were searched, those facts “should not be taken as an indication that those individuals are under investigation”. Pardon?
Would their offices and homes have been “raided” and searched, then, only: (a) to train new young RCMP recruits, (b) to get the name of the RCMP in the papers, or (c) to do something active so RCMP officers would not be thought of as merely office layabouts?
Could we possibly be facing a situation in which a real investigation was begun, was proceeding, search warrants were activated, eighteen people (besides Basi and Virk) “raided”? And then all of a sudden orders came to cease real investigation?
We know from documents released by the court (during pre-trial hearings) that George Copley, counsel for the cabinet, wrote to people in the Attorney General’s office well into 2004 reporting that he and William Berardino visited Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm. Mr. Copley reports that Mr. Berardino asked him not to mention the delay in the process. Mr. Copley agreed – and he noted that Mr. Dohm did not bring up the subject. Plainly, delay in laying charges was a real, noticeable matter.
We remember that after the December 28, 2003 “raids” on legislature offices, Dave Basi was fired immediately. But Bob Virk was treated differently, was suspended with pay for a full year, until the day charges were laid. Discussion in the Supreme Court hallways claimed that both Martyn Brown, Gordon Campbell’s Chief of Staff, and Gordon Campbell himself telephoned Mr. Virk to tell him “to hang in”, that everything would be fixed up.
But everything wasn’t. Were the “investigators”, under the advice of (improperly appointed) Special Prosecutor William Berardino, trying to find a way to separate Mr. Virk from charges?
Forces in power had managed to assure that no elected officials were to be under investigation. And no white Liberals were to be under investigation either – as far as can be determined. Bob Virk, it seems, was also to be separated from those charged. Bob Virk had been on the Evaluation Committee and was deeply tied to at least one other committee dealing with “the sale”. Did he know altogether too much about the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR … to be charged?
Was the long delay a matter of trying to separate Bob Virk from the charges that were going to be laid – a separation that became impossible? After a delay of a whole year, on suspension with full pay, Bob Virk was suddenly fired … and included in the charges – and the time bomb of information about the corrupt transfer began to tick.
Commentators routinely suggest the trial was shut down dramatically because of the ridiculous, unbelievable display under cross examination that Crown Witnesses had provided and that others to follow would doubtless also provide. None has suggested it also was stopped because of testimony Bob Virk would provide as a Defence witness.
The question remains – who was pulling the strings of the puppets? Who decided that on December 28 or 29, 2003, the RCMP would announce that no elected official was under investigation? Who decided that none of the wide-ranging lobbyist people, various contacts with Erik Bornmann (who admitted offering and paying a bribe), and Liberals otherwise loosely connected would face charges?
Who decided that “surveillance” and “investigation” of Gary Collins would abruptly cease … without record?
Why did the RCMP persistently – according to Defence counsel in the pre-trial hearings – delay disclosure of materials in RCMP possession sought by order of the Court?
Why is the Crown now going to try to get all of that documentation back?
Apart from those questions, we know that the officer in charge of investigations in 2003 and 2004, Kevin Debruyckere, is the brother-in-law of Kelly Reichert, long-time Executive Director of the B.C. Liberal Party. We know there was a mix-up in the timing of Mr. Debruyckere’s formal reporting of that connection to his superiors.
We know that Counsel for the Defence came close to insisting that Mr. Debruyckere discussed the investigation with Mr. Reichert and that Reichert discussed matters with Gordon Campbell, premier. If that is true, and if the investigation was highly confidential, then Mr. Debruyckere should be open to investigation, himself, for breach of confidence, breach of trust, and – if investigation showed he received benefits – fraud.
British Columbians will have more questions - their own questions about the behaviour of the RCMP in the BC Rail Scandal - and concerning the criminal trial that sprang from it: the trial of Dave Basi, Bob Virk, and Aneal Basi. But even without airing those questions, enough is presented here to call into question the role of the RCMP in the BC Rail Scandal.
If the RCMP soiled the investigation that led to the charges against Dave Basi, Bob Virk, and Aneal Basi, then nothing they presented as evidence can be depended upon. Evidence that is “real” on the face of it (prima facie) may become something very different in the light of other evidence that should accompany it, modify it, and – in many cases – transform it. If failure on the part of the RCMP to investigate, and where warranted, to charge others involved in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR occurred, then all other “evidence” the Force produced was corrupt.
That, in effect, was the basis of almost the whole structure of the Defence argument, as I understand it: (1) The apparent “real” auction sale of BC Rail was, in fact, a charade. “The fix was in” from before the start to decimate BC Rail and transfer it to CNR. (2) The apparent “real” evidence securing meaningful charges against “the three brown men” was, in fact, a process of targeting, isolation of forces, and disconnection from overall Gordon Campbell government policy and direction.
Through the pre-trial hearings of nearly three years, documentation was piled up in tens of thousands of pages. In that documentation I believe (as a regular observer of the court processes) that a solid basis for the commencement of criminal investigation of others, superiors to the three accused, is present. I wrote formally to then top BC RCMP officer Gary Bass and asked him to open that investigation. He refused.
And now on January 11, 2011, the (improperly appointed) Crown Prosecutor will appear before Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie and ask her to order Defence counsel to return all documentation.
The seriousness of the role of the RCMP in the province cannot be minimized. It has huge and protected power. Crown prosecutors alone in B.C. may lay charges. But Crown prosecutors can’t easily refuse charges when the RCMP has done its job well and presents sound evidence.
If the RCMP is the pawn of a corrupt government, the safety of the whole society is at stake. Random atrocities such as occurred in the Ian Bush and Robert Dziekanski cases will occur. And huge, expensive miscarriages of justice and breaches of trust will occur in matters of public affairs - as many believe they occurred in the BC Rail Scandal and in the RCMP “investigations” associated with it.
So serious have been RCMP failings in the BC Rail Scandal, I believe, that a whole new structure of police oversight must be constructed – after RCMP activity has been fully investigated from (at least) the time of Glen Clark’s ‘frame-up’ until now, and only after recommendations for criminal charges (if appropriate) have been made.
I think it has significant parallels to the situation here in BC. Just switch BC Liberals for Republicans and the NDP for Democrats when reading the piece.
I don't necessarily agree with some of the views here, but it's a very interesting take on the times.
Here's the link to the full article:
‘The Left Has Nowhere to Go’
By Chris Hedges
Posted on Jan 3, 2011
... “The more outrageous the Republicans become, the weaker the left becomes,” (Ralph) Nader said when I reached him at his home in Connecticut on Sunday. “The more outrageous they become, the more the left has to accept the slightly less outrageous corporate Democrats.”
"... Either we begin to practice a fierce moral autonomy and rise up in multiple acts of physical defiance that have no discernable short-term benefit, or we accept the inevitability of corporate slavery. The choice is that grim.
... "The closure of the mechanisms within the power system that once made democratic reform possible means we stand together as the last thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration. If we do not engage in open acts of defiance, we will empower a radical right-wing opposition that will replicate the violence and paranoia of the state. To refuse to defy in every way possible the corporate state is to be complicit in our strangulation.
“... Corporate power makes demands all the time,” Nader went on. “It pulls on the Democrats and the Republicans in one direction. By having this nowhere-to-go mentality and without insisting on demands as the price of your vote, or energy to get out the vote, they have reduced themselves to a cipher. They vote. The vote totals up. But it means nothing.”
..."The timidity and silencing of the left fuels the steady impoverishment of a dispossessed working class and a beleaguered middle class. It solidifies a corporate oligarchy that is dismantling the anemic regulatory agencies that once protected citizens from predatory corporations. The economic system is designed to bail out Wall Street rather than replace the trillions of dollars and millions of jobs lost by workers.
..."You have new class warfare. It is non-unionized lower income and middle class taking it out on the unionized middle-income public employees. It is a classic example of oligarchic manipulation.
"... The banishment from the corporate media, Nader argues, has been one of the major contributors to the demoralization and weakening of the left. Protests by the left, which get little national or local coverage, have steadily dwindled in strength across the country. The first protest gets little or no coverage and this leads to movements, as well as the voices of activists, being diminished and finally suffocated.
"And the only hope left, Nader argues, is if the conservatives in the right-wing movement break from the corporatists. If the big banks again start going to the cliff and calling for new bailouts, Nader says, this may provoke a schism between conservative groups embodied by figures such as Ron Paul, and corporate lackeys.
Me, I favour ditching parties altogether. They've run the course of their effectiveness and have themselves become corrupted vessels. Maybe this new rise in independents will actually bring about the demise of the "first past the post system" that the almost-successful referendum failed to produce.
"No matter how cynical I get, I can never keep up!"
1) The go-to guy on the cover-up of the BC-Rail Robbery was Patty Dohm. This guy knows everything ex post facto. He's witness number one as we the people proceed to prosecute.
2) The external coordinator for doing the dirty deed, for pulling off the actual robbery by fraud in contract law, was Patty Kinsella.
3) Gordo was the board's top-pick for chief executive (i like, "CAPO" for gordo). He was profiled and given the job of fronting (read, lying) to the public from inside government. The arrival of Lara Dauphinee was no accident, either.
4) Para-public technocrats--like Ken Dobell and Chris Trumpy who acted during the process stage; or, like Alan Seckel, David Loukidelis, and Graham Witmarsh who all acted after the fact--pulled the real weight doing the legal due-diligence inside the bureaus of provincial power. It is also a simple fact that the had sharp counterparts in the private sector who met them half-way only to lug away vast amounts of the public wealth on behalf of the crony-kapital interests at cibc and cnr.
5) Dennis Skulski, agent to the Aspers, and that neo-con chorus broadcaster, jointly guided the media message for over a decade in order to ensure that the syndicate got off scott-free in the minds of the woefully un-informed public.
6) And throughout this whole crime, the mounties were thrust into a most un-tenable position. They had the DEA breathing down their necks to take some action against Jas Bains. As well, they had to report to the Feds, at the Justice Dept., which was the purview of the Liberal Party of Canada and the home of several prominent supporters ( eg. Marissen/ Clarke) who were also involved in the BC Rail Robbery. And at the provincial level, the top brass, or second-in-charge, Gary Bass had every reason to stay well-connected to the premier of BC who was in a position to negotiate their new service contract.
Now, ask yourselves--how were all of these disparate players connected so effectively? Who could pull something like this off?
The RCMP, sold their souls to, the devil Campbell, to save their next contract with BC province. They again, eroded the trust of the citizens. We have watched a corrupt judicial system, allow the RCMP literally, to get away with murder. There are BC people who don't even want the RCMP, as an icon for Canada. Their image is in tatters. The RCMP are definitely pro Campbell. Many feel, we would be better off with the provincial police. When a police force, isn't for the citizens, and covers up for corrupt government officials. They are of no use, to the BC citizens. We have watched them do Campbell's dirty work for him, far too often.
She was with Gordo, SFAIK, right from the leadership challenge in '95 onwards.....but why, and where did she come from? Who's she connected to? (other than Gordo, of course)
Anybody that high up in a state or federal executive branch in the US would have been seriously vetted, not just parachuted in from previous invisibility......
Yes, they have been a tight circle operating for many yrs in the shadows - all well connected. Most of the public would have no idea.
Since the BC Rail scandal . . . peoples' awareness has expanded from what was most often kept under tight wraps - only visible to a few.
Your comment re Gary Bass and his 'cooperative' stance with the Campbell Govt now promoted to head up all of Western Canada was particularly interesting.
According to disclosure during pre-trial, didn't Bass receive a call from then Sol Gen Big Boy Coleman's ADM Gary Begg suggesting the RCMP NOTpursue the politicians after the Raid on the Leg?
There are other questions about his involvement/interference with key files involving the BC Govt.
1) Did Basi ever pay the $78,000 'fine' or was that added, concurrently, to his sentence?
2) Do Basi/Virk have to wait until their period of 'incarceration' has ended to start collecting their pensions?
3) Did de Jong take into consideration the aforementioned pensions when he decided not to pursue repayment of the $6 million legal fees?
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