Wednesday, January 05, 2011

 

Public Inquiry into the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial and settlement? Michael Smyth says yes ... Vaughn Palmer says yes ... Peter Ewart says yes ...

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Public Inquiry into BC Rail ...

By Michael Smyth
The Province - Jan. 5, 2011


... The $6-million plea bargain brought to a sudden and grinding halt a criminal trial in which a long list of powerful Liberal insiders were expected testify. Former finance minister Gary Collins, for example, was the next scheduled witness when the surprise plea bargain brought the case to an end.

Why did the government pay $6 million to the lawyers of two men who pleaded guilty to charges that included accepting bribes and leaking inside information? Why didn't the government try to recover at least part of the costs from Basi and Virk themselves? Why didn't the government seize their assets or garnishee their wages?

Why did B.C. taxpayers get burned to a crisp to halt a criminal trial that threatened to embarrass so many powerful people?

  {Snip} ...

[BC Attorney-General] De Jong now goes to great pains to say he wasn't involved in the plea bargain, saying he didn't want to interfere in a politically charged case that was overseen by an independent special prosecutor.

But make no mistake: The decision to pay Basi's and Virk's $6-million legal tab was not a decision of the special prosecutor, it was a decision of the government. And Mike de Jong was the minister responsible.

Meanwhile, I still no reason why an independent review of the B.C. Rail file could not be done in a cost-effective manner. Here's an idea: get Thomas Braidwood to do a tightly-focused independent review of the case, including the plea bargain. He is respected. He did a great job on the Robert Dziekanski case. And he did it without running up a Basi-sized bill for his services. Sign him up. And let's get some answers.


Read more HERE.

http://communities.canada.com/theprovince/blogs/victoriassecrets/archive/2011/01/05/toward-a-b-c-rail-inquiry.aspx

msmyth@theprovince.com

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Comment from "Sam" cross-posted:

Sam says:

January 5, 2011 at 8:40 AM
Not sure if you heard Jon McComb last night, but at about 6:35 he had a pretty pointed commentary on this ordeal, referring to it (I’m paraphrasing) as “the single largest example of BC government corruption in living memory” and calling for an inquiry. He replayed a snippet of his interview with George Abbott in which he pushed Abbott pretty hard on the need for an inquiry versus a review of the plea deals. He also indicated that he had put out an invitation to all of the Liberal leader contenders to come on the show and answer similar questions.

It appears at least someone in the MSM is pushing this issue.

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Leadership candidate promises are really confessions of measures that should have been taken long ago

Editor:

Just finished reading all the collective promises spewed by the Liberal candidates: shrink government, investigation into B.C. Rail sale, judicial review of the $6 million Basi/Virk settlement, HST referendum, carbon tax referendum, full expenses disclosure of MLAs, overhaul of the decayed justice system, more transparent government, blah, blah, blah.

From my perspective, these aren't election platforms, they're confessions: the leadership candidates are inadvertently acknowledging these are things that should have been done in the first place.

Humbug to the lot of them.

Rusty Monger
Read more: http://www.delta-optimist.com/technology/Leadership+candidate+promises+really+confessions+measures+that+should+have+been+taken/4079383/story.html#ixzz1ASSnOHsG

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Big Media stories are so alike. Vaughn Palmer is echoing Michael Smyth, and calling for a Public Inquiry on BC Rail, too:

Quote:

... One of the most controversial decisions in the decade of Liberal government and the man who is (as he admits) "ultimately answerable" for it, repeatedly botches the account of what happened.
That makes an even stronger case for an independent review of the $6-million waiver.

And I suggest the reviewer start by interviewing Mike de Jong, to see what story he'll tell this time.

vpalmer@vancouversun.com


Read the full column HERE

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Bumbling+about+Rail+help+Jong+case+leadership/4067924/story.html#ixzz1AGj0SxAj

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Comments:
Murray Langdon (CFAX) Comment

Jan 5, 2011

Not to side with any one candidate, but the mere fact that one BC Liberal leadership hopeful actually acknowledges there is more to the BC Rail sale than we’re being told is encouraging (if not surprising).

George Abbott, known to be a conciliator amongst his cabinet colleagues, has pledged an independent review of the matter. That may not get him any votes from his party faithful, but it certainly will endear him to the public at large.

If I was a BC Liberal, I would probably want the BC Rail matter buried as far in the past as possible. That’s just being honest, knowing that at the very best, it’s a reminder of a broken promise and messy deal. At worst, all kids [sic] of skeletons could fall out of all kinds of closets and could trigger the party’s demise.

If there was hope for the general public, it will come from free thinking and honest debate. Mr. Abbott also wants to measure the effectiveness of the carbon tax, asking if further scheduled increases should be shelved. Again, that may not be a huge vote-getter because it flies in the face of the party doctrine and contradicts the former leader’s agenda.

So be it. Someone has to do it.

My hope is that we recognize what’s not working and change it. There have been a number of policy decisions that could have and should have been scrapped over the years; ideas are not immune to scrutiny.

I only hope we start seeing some meaningful ideas of discussion from other parties as well. Only then will BC be better positioned for a brighter future instead of struck [sic] in the past, arguing about who did what over the BC Rail sale.
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Smitty did a masterful job of threading the needle today when he was interviewing Christy Clark.

In the audio vault at NW between 12:30 and 1:00.

Have a listen.
 
Note the key phrase in Smyth's article: "a tightly-focused independent review of the case, including the plea-bargain".

As if the plea-bargain were the most notable thing, as opposed to the non-independent prosecutor, the parachuting of judges, the strange warrants, the unconstitutional and illegal publication bans and redacted governments, illegal conduct my lobbyists, the unfiled, uninvestigated charges concerning the wider deal, just not the OmniTRAX aspect, and so much more.

by the sound of the wording, Smyth is advocating a very narrow, limited inquiry which won't touch higher-ups, but will just shuffle paper and witnesses to make it seem as if something has been done. This smacks of the same selective focus on the Airbus inquiry, which is how our new Governor-General got his job - by keeping other Tories than Mulroney alone from the tarnish....the Liberals re the sponsorship scandal weren't anywhere near so lucky....er, conniving.

And to Mr. Langdon, above, it wasn't just a "messy deal" - it was a crooked deal, and dishonest politics in the extreme.

The inquiry should also address the lack of constitutional mechanisms to prevent majority governments from running amuck as have the Liberals since 2001, free to break laws, or simply ignore them, only afterwards, and then only half-heartedly like Abbott, saying "oops, we made a boo-boo...sorry, we'll look into why but the deal is done, let's not punish anyone" and like Christy "we don't want to talk about it, but we'll be open and transparent in future".....

Yeah give Braidwood the job; but don't hobble or put blinkers on him...as was clearly done with now-ACJ Mackenzie when Dohm hand-picked her to replace the too-cooperative, too-public-minded job that the Libs had gotten the federal Tories to "kick upstairs".
 
Abbott doesn't want an inquiry into the BC Rail Deal - he only wants to look into the very limited issue of the payment of Basi and Virk's legal fees - and only that for future reference - there would be no changes or consequences for the current deal!
 
Mike Smyth has been saying/writing some of the right things lately.

His call for an inquiry merely into the legal process of ending the BC-Rail-Robbery Trial is still too limited in scope to satisfy me fully; but, it would be a step going in the right direction so far as it goes. It will eventually have to go much further, however.

Still, i was impressed by the way Smyth took umbrage at the lies and whacked back at de Jong with a little piece of the truth, on nw, the other day.

Here's a the hard-hitting part of the interview:

Smythe: "The problem is it looks politically convenient to hut down a criminal trial that was going to cause the Liberal party a lot of political damage, right? That's what looks politically convenient, and that's what people are concerned about."

De Jong: "Are you, are you suggesting that someone did that?"

Smythe: "I'm suggesting that there is an appearance that the trial was shut down because you guys were going to pay $6 million to these guys' lawyers."

De Jong: "OK, well then let's not talk about appearances, Mike, let's talk about what happened. And let's talk about a role played by an independent prosecutor, who by the way, I've never met, never spoken with, so you know I get why people were angry. An eight-year criminal investigation and trial that led to the criminal conviction of two people for the worst possible breeches of the public trust. No one should be happy about any of that."

Smythe: "Yeah, the worst possible breeches of the public trust and we give their lawyers six million bucks. They're set for life."

De Jong: "Pursuant to a policy Mike that was established in the 1990s."

Smythe: "Well hang on a minute, because the policy as far as I know said that you are indemnified for your lawyer unless you're guilty. I remember when Glen Clark had his house searched, and the government of the day said 'Hey we'll pay for Glen Clark's lawyer unless he's guilty, then we want the money back', right?

De Jong: "Right."

Smythe: "That's the policy. Here we have a situation where these guys plead guilty to these very serious crimes - corruption crimes - and their lawyers are set for life. They're laughing all the way to the bank."

De Jong: "Yes, and you're point, Mike?"

Let's just say it would have been a helleva' dust-up had these two good fellas' met on the ice in this same spirit.

Ahead of us lies quite a battle.

May yee live in interesting times.
 
Mike Smyth has been saying/writing some of the right things lately.

His call for an inquiry merely into the legal process of ending the BC-Rail-Robbery Trial is still too limited in scope to satisfy me fully; but, it would be a step going in the right direction so far as it goes. It will eventually have to go much further, however.
 
Still, i was impressed by the way Smyth took umbrage at the lies and whacked back at de Jong with a little piece of the truth, on nw, the other day.

Here's a the hard-hitting part of the interview:

Smythe: "The problem is it looks politically convenient to hut down a criminal trial that was going to cause the Liberal party a lot of political damage, right? That's what looks politically convenient, and that's what people are concerned about."

De Jong: "Are you, are you suggesting that someone did that?"

Smythe: "I'm suggesting that there is an appearance that the trial was shut down because you guys were going to pay $6 million to these guys' lawyers."

De Jong: "OK, well then let's not talk about appearances, Mike, let's talk about what happened. And let's talk about a role played by an independent prosecutor, who by the way, I've never met, never spoken with, so you know I get why people were angry. An eight-year criminal investigation and trial that led to the criminal conviction of two people for the worst possible breeches of the public trust. No one should be happy about any of that."

Smythe: "Yeah, the worst possible breeches of the public trust and we give their lawyers six million bucks. They're set for life."

De Jong: "Pursuant to a policy Mike that was established in the 1990s."

Smythe: "Well hang on a minute, because the policy as far as I know said that you are indemnified for your lawyer unless you're guilty. I remember when Glen Clark had his house searched, and the government of the day said 'Hey we'll pay for Glen Clark's lawyer unless he's guilty, then we want the money back', right?

De Jong: "Right."

Smythe: "That's the policy. Here we have a situation where these guys plead guilty to these very serious crimes - corruption crimes - and their lawyers are set for life. They're laughing all the way to the bank."

De Jong: "Yes, and you're point, Mike?"

Let's just say it would have been a helleva' dust-up had these two good fellas' met on the ice in this same spirit.

Ahead of us lies quite a battle.

May yee live in interesting times.
 
Two things...

First, Mr. Langdon (as he so often is) is sadly mistaken....Mr. Abbott did NOT call for an inquiry into the BC Rail 'sale'.

Second, why, exactly, is he who always seems to prevaricate, even as he pretends to make bold, populist pronouncements (i.e. Mr. Smyth), calling for 'tightly focused independent review of the case'? I would argue that a major reason that Mr. Braidwood's work on the Dziekanski case was so powerful was precisely because it was NOT 'tightly focused' and narrow in scope.


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For anyone interested, my take on what Mr. Abbott actually called for is here.

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Sam says:
January 5, 2011 at 8:40 AM
Not sure if you heard Jon McComb last night, but at about 6:35 he had a pretty pointed commentary on this ordeal, referring to it (I’m paraphrasing) as “the single largest example of BC government corruption in living memory” and calling for an inquiry. He replayed a snippet of his interview with George Abbott in which he pushed Abbott pretty hard on the need for an inquiry versus a review of the plea deals. He also indicated that he had put out an invitation to all of the Liberal leader contenders to come on the show and answer similar questions.

It appears at least someone in the MSM is pushing this issue.
 
Von pawn just threw de Jong under the bus.

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Bumbling+about+Rail+help+Jong+case+leadership/4067924/story.html

Now this is starting to get interesting.
 
I don't believe you could have a thorough examination of the BC Rail theft with a Liberal government. You have to get the supporting(of corruption) politicians out of office first.
 
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