Saturday, January 01, 2011
PART TWO. A Society in Breakdown. British Columbia's Hip-High Corruption.
By Robin Mathews
January 1, 2011
Continuing revelations from the astonishingly brutal close-down of the BC Rail Scandal Basi, Virk, and Basi trial on October 18, 2010, underscore gigantic questions about criminal behaviour (in one area only) of the Gordon Campbell government ... questions still unanswered. The post close-down revelations provide, as well, more suggestions of a (purposefully?) botched RCMP investigation.
We remember that only one-and-a-half Crown witnesses were cross-examined by Defence counsel when trial (after more than three years of pre-trial hearings) was shut down. About 30 more witnesses had been announced. Witness response came from Martyn Brown, long-time Gordon Campbell Chief of Staff. Brian Kenning, holder of directorships on BC Rail, BC Ferries, etc. etc. etc. and a key figure on the infamous BC Rail “Evaluation Committee”, didn’t finish. Their behaviour under cross-examination appeared to many to have been ‘staged’, faulty, amnesiac, impossible to credit, ridiculous … growingly unbelievable.
And then – suddenly – the trial stopped, ended (in mid-questioning of Brian Kenning) with a huge “compromise” package of charges and withdrawal of charges almost, it seems, dictated by the accused. The Gordon Campbell government – fudging and disinforming and backtracking about the location of responsibility for the pay-out – paid the six million dollars of Defence costs.
PART ONE states that “in the light of the coming January 11, 2011 appearance of the Crown before Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie to request the return of all disclosure documents by the Defence to the Crown, we should look at (a) the convicted, (b) the Crown, (c) the judiciary involved, (d) the RCMP, (e) the Mainstream Press and Media, (f) the Liberal Party, and (g) the NDP.”
PART ONE suggests the “three brown men” accused were ‘set-ups’. If the trial had run to conclusion, evidence of the apparent entrapping of the men in order, it appears to many, to cover for guilty superiors, might very well have seen the jury bring down a NOT GUILTY verdict on all charges.
Is that one of the reasons the trial was brutally ended?
PART ONE also points out that the appointment of the Special (Crown) Prosecutor was effected in violation of the legislation governing the appointment process, and it claims, therefore, that the Special Prosecutor’s work, throughout, is invalid. Moreover, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie (and Chief Justice, Robert Bauman) - fully informed of William Berardino’s improper appointment - refused to act to remedy the wrong. By failing to act, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie may sit, now, improperly on the BC Rail matter.
The long unfolding of judicial action (or inaction) in the BC Rail Scandal Basi, Virk, and Basi case, begins in 1999 (at least) with the resignation of NDP premier Glen Clark. His resignation is a part of what I have always called “the fraudulent investigation and trial of Glen Clark”.
In answer to my complaint and continued insistence upon a review of RCMP behaviour at the time, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP took three full years to tell me the investigation I caused to be opened was “improperly” terminated by officers of the RCMP.
Glen Clark went to trial for 136 days concerning possible improprieties in the building of a $10,000 deck on his East Vancouver home. Clark’s lawyer insisted the charges were vexatious (without foundation). But Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett drove the trial to its conclusion. She was, later appointed as judge on the Basi, Virk, and Basi case.
Justice Bennett found Glen Clark innocent of all charges. We are invited to believe that justice was done. Except that a combination of the RCMP, the trial, and a savage press destroyed the political career of an innocent man.
One of two reasons, moreover, may be suggested for the judgement made by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett in the Clark case. The first is that, painstakingly, she brought truth to light, and served justice. The other possible explanation is that she knew a finding of “guilty”, taken on appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, would have been laughed out of court and the judge ridiculed for having permitted the case to continue in trial at the lower level.
That last (possible) explanation is dark. But allegations swirled: that the original complaint against Clark came from Gordon Campbell’s constituency office; the head RCMP investigator had been at least twice asked by Gordon Campbell to run as a candidate for the legislature; that Ujjal Dosangh slipped into the NDP leader role with the help of IndoCanadian bulk memberships, that he fumbled the election (declaring a week before polling that he had lost!), and then moved effortlessly into the Liberal Party - with a ticket to Ottawa. And Gordon Campbell moved effortlessly into the position of premier of British Columbia.
Whatever the truth of the Glen Clark case, Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm – who granted search warrants in the case from a holiday location in another country, appointed Justice Bennett to the Basi, Virk, and Basi case. Mr. Dohm first granted a fistful of search warrants for the “sweep” known as the search warrant “raids” on the legislature of British Columbia. Only the offices of Dave Basi and Bobby Virk were “raided”, however. Those of their directing superiors and other cabinet members involved in the BC Rail Scandal were left untouched.
The investigation, which was called by the RCMP “everywhichway”, did not find its way to the offices of Gordon Campbell, Gary Collins, Judith Reid, Martyn Brown … or any others directing the actions of Basi and Virk.
Elsewhere, homes and offices were searched in Vancouver and Victoria. None of those searches eventuated in charges being laid.
Defence counsel for Basi, Virk, and Basi fought the case on simple bases. They alleged the accused were “set up” to cover for others. They alleged a “fix” was in to transfer BC Rail to the CNR under the cover of elaborate, widely spread activities, both legitimate and illegitimate.
They argued that the accused were part of a huge propaganda program and structure of deceit employed by the Gordon Campbell government, the men being instruments in the hands of their superiors to complete an improper “deal”.
To build their case, Defence counsel had to gain evidence through access to materials held by BC Rail, the RCMP, the cabinet, and others. Over and over Defence had to apply to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett to get the materials. Defence counsel were, mostly, granted access … but slowly, and with excessive delay and improper delivery from the sources, and with apparent fudging of presentation and categorization by the Crown.
Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett early stated that the process would be as open as possible to the public. To my mind, it was not. She granted materials sought by Defence, but – to my mind – permitted excessive delay and fudging. Transcripts of the “open” trial process were never made available to the public, calling into question the “openness” of the process. The simplest matter – like the inaudibility of people in the court – was never remedied despite microphones in front of every speaker and requests to the judge. For the public to get access to any material – an ornate, involved, Kafka’esque, and time-consuming effort was necessary.
Through months and months of such behaviour, the Mainstream Press and Media remained mute. Not a word was uttered – not one – by any member of that press and media about the conduct of the judge. And when I began to criticize the judge for permitting delay – one of the journalists warned me – three times – that such an exercise of freedom of expression would see me cited for contempt of court.
The Mainstream Press and Media failed consistently to report judicial behaviour, as if the judge could never be questioned and as if the court was territory outside the limits of public scrutiny. More on that later.
Despite my criticisms of delay, the Crown prosecutor, apparently, didn’t like even the slow disclosure of materials needed for the Defence of the accused.
To everyone’s surprise, nearly three years into the pre-trial hearings, Madam Justice Elisabeth Bennett was promoted to the Appeals Court. Would she go, or would she complete the trial first – since the Defence had elected trial by judge alone and expected Justice Bennett to preside? I was twice assured by Michael Bolton, Defence counsel, the decision was Bennett’s alone.
A strange event, however, occurred in the court. Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm – like a bull in a china shop – appeared to hear a motion. It was a motion by the Crown prosecutor, William Berardino, to have Madam Justice Bennett removed from the case. The transcript of that day should be resurrected and closely examined. Mr. Berardino argued that Justice Bennett couldn’t be in two places at once – which assertion was heartily endorsed by Mr. Dohm.
Then Mr. Berardino alleged, I believe, that Justice Bennett wasn’t following precisely correct procedures. Mr. Kevin McCullough, Defence counsel, rose – I presume to protest the statement – and was told roughly to sit down by Associate Chief Justice Dohm. Mr. Dohm announced that there would be a change of judges; he had already picked the replacement; but he wouldn’t name the judge because he didn’t want two named judges as Justice Bennett was tying up loose ends.
And so Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie – soon to be named Associate Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court - replaced Justice Bennett on the Basi, Virk, and Basi case. And she seemed to set about to deny the Defence any further reaches for information.
That prompted the accused to apply to re-elect and have trial by jury. Out of that came the Agreement of Facts in the case – and the weeks and weeks of later argument about what the document actually meant – just what was agreed upon. If Justice Bennett had continued with the trial, none of that would have happened.
Justice MacKenzie, granting trial by jury, exerted a rigid and draconian retroactive publication ban on matters related to the trial. She first, strangely, even banned reporting of the trial before the jury…an unheard of restriction. A few days later she relented and softened the ban just a little. Matters heard before the jury became reportable.
I believe the whole operation – confused by the shift from trial by judge alone to trial by jury – erred on the side of secrecy. Secrecy is the enemy of just legal practice. As days went by without any report coming out of the wranglings and arguments in court – “in the absence of jury”, I scrutinized the publication ban. I concluded the public had a right to know what was going on, even while respecting the publication ban.
It stated that there was a ban of “publication in any document or broadcast or transmission of evidence, submissions, rulings and reasons for judgement given in this proceeding in the absence of jury”.
That did not say that the public could not know what the wrangling was about – which was interpretation of the Admission of Facts. With the greatest care I wrote a column which I considered did NOT offend the ban but did give the public some idea of the basis of wrangling (and secrecy). The Mainstream Press and Media, of course, accepted the draconian ban … with passive obedience.
Like a bolt of lightning I received a notice from the court that I was offending the ban and would be hit if I didn’t cease immediately. I believe the court was wrong – but didn’t see myself paying tens and tens of thousands of dollars to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada. That problem of cost is undoubtedly the cause of huge injustice done from within the courts.
I believe the public has no reason to have confidence in the actions of Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie. Indeed, the deafness of Supreme Court judges to the fact that the BC Rail Scandal trials were the most important criminal trials involving government in the history of British Columbia was, almost, astounding. If they felt an obligation to have an open examination of the public’s business, they did not show it. In fact, the opposite.
But Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie did, as I see things, make a ruling that helped to bring the trial to its thundering stop. In the argument about the interpretation of the Agreement of Facts, Crown and Defence disagreed hotly.
The Crown wanted cross-examination questioning to be severely restricted to – in effect – the circumstances of the charges against the three men. As I analyse the matter, the Crown did not want Defence, in fact, to bring to bear the load of their Defence argument – involving the relations of cabinet to corporate actors, to friends of Gordon Campbell, to the inner workings of contact and connection. Defence, in turn, called upon rulings made by Justice Bennett in pre-trials to bolster their demands.
As I see it, Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie ruled as reasonable the broad scope of cross-examination that the Defence counsel saw as necessary to the defence of their clients.
That meant the Gordon Campbell parade – made up exclusively of paper tigers – was about to drenched with rain. The inner workings of the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR were about to be bared. And that exposure promised to be so horrendous that there was every likelihood the accused would be acquitted of all charges against them by a jury grown more and more angry at government and corporate dishonesty, shenanigans, and targettting of Basi, Virk, and Basi as covers for the greater wrongdoing.
The trial had to be stopped.
And it was stopped.
Associate Chief Justice Anne Mackenzie accepted the outlandish agreement forged between the (improperly appointed) Special Crown Prosecutor and the accused (and their counsel) without question and without displacing a hair on her head. The legal process that had been set in motion sometime in 2002, and which ran for the next eight years, was stopped in a moment by the rap of a gavel - without a single major question asked by British Columbians having received a meaningful answer.
PART THREE will continue examination (in fact already begun) of the RCMP, the Mainstream Press and Media, the Liberal Party, and the NDP.
We know what has been, we know how corrupt it all is, we know what has happened.
There has to come a time when we take what we know and move forward. Maybe we will move rightly or maybe we will move wrong but we have to act.
I have to be away for a few days maybe a week for a death in my family but I truly believe that something more of us is going to be required than us reading again about what has happened and how unjust it was. Perhaps a physical presence somewhere where Media will have to attend? anything other than being stuck repeating what we already know.
The government has conducted itself as though it was the private owner of all public assets and as such had unimpaired clearance to buy-sell or bind the public to large new debts at will. The time element was important to enable the plundering of the public purse.
The Robin Mathews column today reads ahead (as they say), and let me point out to you, that it does add one startlingly significant new detail - that the jury might well have acquitted the accused, if the trial hadn't been shut down on Oct. 18, 2010.
I'd say that that was block-buster news -- mentioned here for the first time -- but it seemed you didn't notice it? The column repeats - but to tell the story one has to repeat.
As editor here, I think also that it makes sense to readers to show how the change in judges made trial by jury necessary and the mess that created. And how MacKenzie's agreeing with the Defence about HOW THEY COULD CROSS-EXAMINE [Her hands were tied by what Bennett had ruled earlier] set up the trial for the big buy-off to shut it down.
And you suggest that we knew all this? No, we sure as heck didn't.
Most journalism courses say -- repeatedly -- that in writing up a story 'you tell them what you are going to tell, then you tell them, then you conclude by telling them what you told them'. You'll find this pattern in almost every decent news story you read. It's there to help explain the story in context. That's what a good writer does. And in a 7-year story about criminality and BC Rail, there will be someone reading for the first time about the case - and needs all that outline, laid down end to end from the beginning - and in this case showing the games played by the judiciary.
So, Don F., if you are suggesting we dump all that, I say your suggestion would NOT be an improvement on the reporting available on The Legislature Raids. In fact, I'm surprised that you even mentioned it.
Where I agree with you 101% is that we must act now. How about some suggestions?
I'm going to be posting photos (as soon as tech-help arrives) of the abandoned BC Rail lines in northern B.C., a deal breaker ... the BC government could re-possess the railway on those grounds. We should act on that. I tried, on the 5th anniversary of the tainted, still semi-secret BCR-CN deal. How to proceed with that now?
Or, what's your advice on how best to get charges laid against the allegedly corrupt politicians who rigged the sale of a publicly-owned railway (BC Rail) to a private corporation (CN)?
I appreciate what you and Robin do immensely Mary and am behind 101%.
I would endorse you and your site to anyone anywhere as necessary to understand our common plight, please consider my words of late last night as those of a frustrated person not quite up to his best bellowing that frustration, not a slight against your efforts in any form.
In the court of public opinion, the verdict is overwhelmingly guilty, but the criminals need to be identified clearly, visibly and unequivocally in the media by the media. Should any of the guilty object, he or she can use the courts to seek remedy and we would again have our day in court as well.
I suggest a format of mug shot and charges listed on a wanted poster with their crimes detailed.
Gordon Campbell-GUILTY of Breach of Trust, Influence Peddling, Theft by Conversion, Accepting undeclared Benefits, etc. etc.etc.
All of the perps should be so identified and held to account by the public. MacLean, Brown, Kinsella, Clark, MacKenzie, Berardino, Dohm, DeBruckiere(sp),and on and on and on.
The next government must then be charged with initiating the return of BC Rail to the rightfull(sp) owners. At the same time they must be charged with finding acceptable remedy to all the other acts of malfeasance and criminality of the present provincial government.
That's very, very good of you to write again this way.
And I'm sorry indeed about your loss.
Seems like a strange co-incidence that I have just finished writing to Paul Nettleton ... after his sudden, inexplicable endorsement of Christy Clark as the next BC premier.
I don't want to lose Paul's friendship. Or his steady encouragement.
But what I really wanted to do was holler "Noooooo!!!" It's so much like a small death, as we try to learn to let go of something precious.
Well ... being human ain't for sissies, eh?
Thanks again for writing. And it's got me wondering if I couldn't just lay a charge or two myself against the alleged unindicted criminals in the BC Rail case ...
what do you think?
I see no difference between them being aquited and getting the sentense they got: No legal bills, no jail time, a paltry fine, equal to the amount Basi accepted from a certain developer.
Yet thre goes Mathews again, planting the seed of racism about the "brown men" where I see no evidence of racism motivating prosecution whatsoever, nor does Mathew have any evidence.
I am fast tiring of this over-played record and see no "block buster" new news here.
There are no gavels in any court in BC. There are in US courts.
Mathews watching too much tv?
I do agree with him though, 101% that the process was not open.
Courts of Canada - DefinitionAlthough a court, like the Supreme Court of British Columbia, ... The judge does not have a gavel. He or she merely raises his or her voice (or stand up ...
Aww, JPC (or is that PAB?),
you're breakin' my heart. So you're saying that some Evil Demon is dragging you in here against your will, and torturing you by forcing you to read this blog ... what an outrage!
And Anon 9:44, of a Sunday morning you were lucky enough to find a flaw in Robin Mathews' reasoning ... and you generously rushed in here to tell us. WooHOOO. Now I wish you'd go back through all the comments which keep yakking on, comparing the OJ Simpson trial to the BCRail Trial ... and explain that, as well.
Jeez. And a Happy New Year to you, too.
Good for you for starting some brainstorming!..."Mission Must Be Possible"...if there are honest, knowledgeable lawyers within this province or even beyond who are willing to ProBono a campaign for the people and with the people to set up a People's Enquiry into "The Legislature Raids-2003".
As an artist, I know that artists in the past(France) have set up an alternate exhibit to the status quo exhibit. Granted this is a much more sober and important expose...on behalf of justice and truth for reestablishing democracy.Who needs the MSM as shown in the Fight HST initiative.Those who do not lead tend to follow.
If only Mel Hertig (sp?) Alberta's Ralph Nader/ or Allan Grigg (TVO), Maude Barlow, water crusader or Linda McQuaige of The Toronto Star or even Michael Moore might become interested in helping out reestablishing democracy in the wild west of B.C. Canada. We need some investigative journalism to help get things going beyond our provincial borders.
We will keep on pounding, Campbell's corrupt sale of the BCR, forever. It was a dirty corrupt deal from day one. We will keep up the pounding until, hell freezes over and the devil learns to skate. I refuse to let any of the BC people, to forget about that rotten, evil event. I plug it on, every web site I can find. You don't like it? T.F.B.
Thank you again Robin for your thoughts.
When Campbell announced his resignation, CTV and Global decided to interview Carole James LIVE and in both these interviews James said if Gordon Campbell thinks that just because he has resigned that the BC Rail corruption scandal is going to go away…. he is mistaken.
When the anniversary of the raid on the legislature was repeated for the seventh time recently Leonard Krog (NDP?) sought out the media, I witnessed print, radio and TV on the subject from Krog.
Now is the time for Leonard Krog and a number of high-ranking BCNDP MLA’s to come forward and have a news conference on the subject of retaining all the evidence that pertains to BC Rail.
Any of the MLA’s that are even thinking about running for leadership of the NDP have to be there if they want to be viewed as NOT part of the problem. In fact if you were a backbench MLA I would think that you would also not want to be viewed as part of the problem and be encouraging the leading MLA’s to GET PUBLIC.
Now if you are outside the party and are making a run at leader….lets say an NDP MP from the lower mainland (first, I would like to know were the hell have you been for the last ten years while YOUR province has been continually raped and pillaged?) you might want to declare that your running on a platform to CLEAN UP VICTORIA and repossess which is rightfully ours.
(I have contacted my NDP MP twice asking/pleading for some help before all is lost – no response – I have contacted the federal NDP and begged for help a number of times - no response - and for that matter very few responses from our provincial NDP- approximately 2-3 out of 20 and they were absent of any real substance.
We the people of BC need the NDP to stand up take action and be very public… right now.
Thank you and happy New Year to all that are making a positive contribution in trying to right the wrongs of the BC liberals.
Parzone: I only hope that your wish comes true, and that L. Krog gets up off his skinny a*s and fulfills his overdue obligations to BC Rail and to the people of BC.
Keep on pushing. He needs it. He phoned me once, and his theme was [insert helpless tone]: "What do you want me to do?" And this was maybe 5 years ago. T.F.B. if he doesn't know. Tell him. Yell, if necessary. Taxpayers fork over quite a nice fat salary for him to behave like an Opposition Justice Critic.
What a bunch of morons we seem to have - with president leading the party, who has more baggage than you would believe.
It appears that it is not just the BC Liberal party that is self destructing - the BC NDP are close behind, not wishing to be left out !!!!
The time is ripe for one, two, maybe three new politcal parties to emerge. It would probably be to BC`s advantage to have that many - then there would be a minority government and they would be forced to work together. I also like the idea of several or more independent MLA`s - who would most likely be listening to their constituenmts and working in the best interests of the province - instead of for ideological reasons.
Time is running out - and Campbell is no doubt busy trying to steal more of the provinces assets for his greedy friends.
It is time to wake up and start demanding positive change - including government and politcal reform.
I just read your comments on theleftcoast.ca and need to tell you what I think/know!
Moe Sihota is poison, he has rotted the NDP from the inside. There are still many good people in the party but enough as usual are probably more interested in a nice B.C. Liberal corrupt huge wage rate for premiers and MLA's. The huge salaries along with the huge golden pension plans will always attract the very corrupt unfortunately.
As I see it Moe has enough of a gang joining him in making sure the NDP does not win the election AGAIN, the same as he did in 2009. It is my firm belief that Moe is out to make sure no good NDP person wins the election because it would be hard to remove anyone who succeeded and preceded him to make room for himself. He is banking on his countrymen, who will within a few years carry the majority of the vote in B.C., and are well known to block vote, to carry him over the finish line.
Check out cbc.ca and straight.com, the PAB are out in full force, all 200+ and madly stacking the blogs with their sick and disgusting comments. Also check out Moe the enemy, he has started this Dana Larsen character assination at exactly the right time for the Liberals and the corrupt media to capitilize on it and he is doing it by making his comments through the corporate controlled media. I also believe he was always the enemy directing Carole James in all the wrong directions, purposely.
It's getting really dirty and dangerous out there, especially for the HST heroes doing Gordon Head and Chong.
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