Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Gone to Parksville Beach for a while ...
We can be sure that all is not quiet on the Western front, and that a lot is happening backstage. The public, at this point, is being kept completely in the dark by their regular news media. But never say die, we can look back at some of the stories that will keep us informed of the basic points at issue -- noting, as we do, that everyone seemed much more willing to break out into print in the early days after 28 Dec. 2003.
It would have seemed only natural to need to discuss (in print, on the street, in broadcasts, online) a police raid involving our Legislature, a shocking event which had never happened before in Canada. What seems very unnatural is when British Columbia says nothing, hears nothing about this affair. As with the trial of former Constable Ravinder Dosanjh which began on May 15, went on for 2 days, then disappeared on May 17. If you do a search of Vancouver Sun for this, they'll tell you to ask BC Mary.
It's an old history lesson: that it's relatively easy to study the facts as presented, but it's much harder to discover what's being omitted from the history. And often, it's the omissions which tell the real truth.
But for now, I'm going to Parksville beach for a while. I'll be back a.s.a.p. Meantime, these comments sections are open, ready to welcome your input.
- BC Mary.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Dave Basi owns the UVic Young Liberals
Saanich-Gulf Islands Young Liberal pays price for loyalty
Jody Paterson Times Colonist 19 January 2004
A young legislative assistant working in the B.C. government caucus says he was fired in the fall for campaigning for a federal Liberal candidate who didn't have David Basi's backing. Less than two days after trying to organize an October meeting between Saanich-Gulf Islands Liberal hopeful Bob Russell and the UVic Young Liberals Club, the worker was called into his boss's office and given an ultimatum: Quit Russell's campaign or be fired. His boss told him the B.C. government didn't like any of their appointed staff to be involved in federal campaign work. And if not for a number of his legislature co-workers doing similar political work without repercussion -- Basi and Bob Virk most notably -- he might have believed her ...
"One thing you need to know is that Dave Basi owns the UVic Young Liberals Club. I guess he has owned them since he was at UVic himself," [he said.] "So the first thing that happened was the club got the event cancelled that I'd been putting together. And then I heard that Dave Basi had been asking who I was and where I worked. Two days later, I got called into my boss's office." ...
Russell remains appalled at his young helper being hounded out of his government job. But he's happy to have him on the team, and says the ongoing media scrutiny of Basi's organizing style and the federal Liberals' tainted membership lists will benefit the party immensely in the long run. ...
Yeah, right. That's what we all thought. "Ongoing media scrutiny" my foot.
- BC Mary.
BC Rail process shrouded in secrecy
Joy MacPhail: If the B.C. Liberal government is interested in pursuing any level of accountability, the deal should be opened for scrutiny. It's not enough for the Premier to say he's willing to campaign on this in the next election. What's he going to campaign on? Open up the deal now.
Actually, here's why the government probably doesn't want to release the deal. Here's what we know already, taking a closer look. There are supposedly $1 billion of benefits for British Columbians. Wrong — $250 million of that is at risk.
It's not even guaranteed in terms of tax credits. We've had no ruling from the Canada Revenue Agency about whether CN is going to be able to use those tax credits to write down its own payment of taxes to Canada, so the taxpayers could be left on the hook for that $250 million if the Canada Revenue Agency doesn't agree with the Premier on the tax credits. It's the British Columbia taxpayers that will be on the hook for that.
Let's be clear. Even the $1 billion isn't $1 billion. CN is going to pay $250 million less in taxes than it would have prior to this deal because of this deal. How is that good news for Canadians or British Columbians that a private, publicly held corporation is going to be paying a quarter of a billion dollars less in taxes?
Then let's look at the figures of the rest of the $750 million. Some of it's going to go to deserving projects — deserving projects that didn't need to have the B.C. Rail deal at all. The government could have committed to these projects regardless, but I certainly hope that the government is going to proceed with these projects. They haven't yet proceeded on any of the projects. They're deserving, and I hope that the money is well used, because our communities in the north need all the help they can get. They have been completely ignored by this government to date.
Here's what some of the projects are: $4 million for an expansion to the Prince George Airport; $17.2 million to fund expansions at the port of Prince Rupert, even though that expansion requires $54 million; $15 million for a first nations' trust fund that has become incredibly controversial already with this Minister of Transportation trying to use it as a claim of support for the B.C. Rail deal and the aboriginal leaders saying, "Uh uh. Not so"; $135 million for a northern development initiative. Good news — all of that. However, the total amount of that funding is 17 percent of the billion dollars that CN is claiming to pay that goes to our communities. That's the best-case scenario. Dig deeper, and it gets even a little more sketchy.
The northern development initiative. Some $60 million will be divided into four regional funds: the Peace gets $15 million, Prince George gets $15 million, the northwest gets $15 million and the Cariboo-Chilcotin gets $15 million. It's $15 million each, so the entire Peace region gets $15 million out of a billion dollars. That's 1.5 percent of the entire deal. Is that a good deal for the Peace when the mayors along the line are saying, "Uh uh. Hold off. Suspend the deal until the police investigations are over"? They're getting a total of $15 million. That's it. The northwest, the entire northwest, gets the same — $15 million.
So much of this process and this announcement are wrapped up in suspicion and secrecy. The other bidders complained about the process. One even dropped out. The winner was a major donor to the Liberal Party. The fairness adviser raised serious concerns about leaks. The government said not to worry. The Premier isn't showing us the deal. We have no idea when the competition bureau is going to be finished. I was told it would take three to six months. We're at the end of the fifth month now. There are serious land claims issues that need to be done. All of this is being done under a continuing cloud of secrecy by the government.
I'm going to go through the B.C. Rail deal in time lines and ask a series of questions. June 5, 2001, a month after the Liberals sweep the B.C. provincial election, Dave Basi is named the ministerial assistant to Finance minister Gary Collins. Bob Virk becomes ministerial assistant to Transportation minister Judith Reid.
By the way, it was in April of 2001, during the election, that the B.C. Liberals added to their new-era platform. It had not been part of the new-era platform before April when the B.C. Liberals held a news conference and said: "We are committing to not sell B.C. Rail after much consultation." They actually held a news conference and added that promise to the New Era document, because of course, we know in 1996 they said they were going to sell B.C. Rail, and they lost the north.
Why did CP Rail stop bidding for BC Rail?
J. MacPhail: The Minister of Finance is on record in his estimates saying that he called the failed bidders after this process finished. He was on record telling me that he called Omnitrax, a failed bidder. Then he had dinner with them after, too, because Omnitrax wasn't satisfied with the private telephone call. They actually wanted to have a private dinner.
The minister must have called or someone in government must have called CP Rail, as well, if the Minister of Finance said it was government's practice to call the failed bidders. It was a brand-new practice to me, but hey, what do I know?
If the Minister of Finance's word about Omnitrax holds true — that the government contacted the failed bidders — surely someone must have talked to CP Rail. CP Rail only pulled out days before the bidding process concluded, and CP Rail let it be known that they were dissatisfied with the fairness of the bid. Who called CP Rail?
Hon. K. Falcon: I believe Minister Collins [former Finance Minister Gary Collins] — and you would have to confirm independently with him — did call CPR, as I believe he did call all the bidders that had been unsuccessful. My understanding is that the purpose of those phone calls was, essentially, to extend appreciation for the efforts, time and money they had invested in the process and to let them know the government appreciated the fact they'd invested the time, money and resources.
J. MacPhail: Yeah, I'm not quite sure…. I think that's probably a first. I don't think there has ever been another minister in history, depending on political stripe, that has done that — ever.
We're assuming it's good business if all of the bidders were treated fairly. The minister says: "Oh, it's good business." We have no idea whether the bidders were treated fairly. What we do know is that Omnitrax was the only one that got a private dinner with the Minister of Finance after he made that phone call to them. He made the phone call, and then they wanted a private dinner with him, and he gave it to them. No staff, no bureaucrats — just Omnitrax and the Minister of Finance. There was also a bidding process going on for the rail spur out to Roberts Bank during that period of time as well.
Is the minister suggesting that yes, CPR was called, but he doesn't know the nature of the conversation? Or is he saying I should ask or the media should ask the Minister of Finance whether he called CP Rail or not? We know he didn't have a private dinner with CP Rail the way he did with Omnitrax.
Hon. K. Falcon: Yes, as I explained to the member, the Minister of Finance did make those phone calls. The phone calls were made in the spirit of thanking them for their involvement in the process.
J. MacPhail: So what did CPR say to the Minister of Finance?
Hon. K. Falcon: You'd have to ask the Minister of Finance. I haven't got the slightest clue.
J. MacPhail: If the Minister of Finance said he made the calls to just reassure them that everything was fine, surely there must be some record. There must be some feedback given to show the fairness and the balance the calls took. We know that only Omnitrax got a private dinner with the Minister of Finance after that. They're the only ones. Pat Broe, who is the CEO…. I think Broe partnerships owns Omnitrax. We know they got a private dinner. We know CPR didn't get a private dinner. Is there anything in the analysis, post–bid process, that indicates what CPR said as to why they pulled out of the bidding process?
Hon. K. Falcon: No, there isn't.
J. MacPhail: The minister sort of said off the record or off-mike that it's good business practice to make these calls. How is it good business practice to call them after they've pulled out of a bidding process just days before the final announcement is made, and nobody in government knows why they pulled out? How's that good business practice? What is learned from that?
Hon. K. Falcon: Two points. One is that Charles River Associates, as the member knows from reading the report, did interview all of the bidders in the process prior to releasing his final report. That was reflected in Charles River's final report.
With regard to the Minister of Finance, I can tell you that the Minister of Finance is tireless in his efforts to promote British Columbia and those that are considering investing significant dollars into the province. I take my hat off to the Minister of Finance, because I think that what he is trying to do is extend his hand of appreciation to those that are taking the time, energy and commitment to try and see how they can invest in British Columbia and improve the province.
J. MacPhail: Can the minister refer to the Charles River Associates final report and read into the record what it says about why CPR withdrew from the bid?
Hon. K. Falcon: We'll dig up that information and provide it to the member at a later point.
J. MacPhail: I don't know why we can't do it now. That's what estimates are for. I've read the final report, and I can't find anything about why CP Rail withdrew from the bid. It doesn't say a word about that. That's why I'm asking the minister these questions about why CP Rail pulled out of the process.
The reason why these questions are so key is because…. We're going to get into the legislative raid, but let's remember that this government had to cancel the second part of the privatization of B.C. Rail. Selling the spur line to Roberts Bank — that sale actually had to be cancelled because of the police investigation.
It's not like these are questions just out of political curiosity. I'm trying to figure out what the business acumen of this government is and what work they actually did to demonstrate impartiality, fairness and balance around the CN successful bid. The reason why I'm sure the minister is going to have trouble finding any quote in the Charles River Associates report giving information about why CP Rail pulled out is because there isn't anything there.
Now, November 19, we have CP Rail and one of the partners in the Omnitrax bid complaining about fairness. November 25, the government announces that it has accepted CN's offer — big splashy announcement. I wasn't invited. I'm not quite sure why. It seems to be a trend of this government not to invite opposition members to an announcement. It was not at all the practice of the previous government to prevent opposition members from attending. They were always notified. This government never does that. Anyway, it was a big splashy announcement, and lo and behold, CN was the successful bidder.
Then legislation is introduced, and I debate that legislation in the House with the previous Minister of Transportation. I'll be examining what the previous Minister of Transportation said during the debate of legislation allowing for the sale of B.C. Rail Properties Ltd. with the minister later on. That was November 25. Then the legislation was passed that week.
December 1, 2003, the B.C. Attorney General is told by his staff that a case requires the appointment of a special prosecutor and may involve the search of the B.C. Legislature. December 27, 2003, the B.C. Solicitor General calls the Premier of B.C., who's on vacation in Hawaii, to tell the Premier to expect an important call in the next day or so. The Solicitor General says later that he did not give the Premier any details.
December 28, 2003, the RCMP and the Victoria police department execute nine search warrants at seven locations across the province, including two offices in the B.C. Legislature. The Solicitor General again calls the Premier to brief him on those legislative police raids.
December 29, 2003, Dave Basi, who was the ministerial assistant to the Minister of Finance, is fired from his job as ministerial assistant, and Bob Virk, who is the ministerial assistant to the former Minister of Transportation, is suspended with pay.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
BC Rail Goes Straight Downhill -- What privatization means for working people
... Stretching from Vancouver to Fort Nelson, the railway is a vital part of British Columbia’s economy. 2,320 km of mainline operating track makes BC Rail the third largest regional railway in Canada. BC Rail hauls over 120,000 freight car loads of lumber and other forest products per year (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BC_Rail ). Publicly owned since 1918, it was also a major tourist attraction. Every year thousands would board the Royal Hudson, a 1940 steam locomotive, to enjoy the scenic trek through British Columbia’s breathtaking mountains. The excursion trips were canceled shortly before the privatization of BC Rail.
From the beginning, the BC Rail deal was rotten to the core. During the 2001 election campaign Gordon Campbell specifically promised not to sell the railway. So, true to his record, it was only a matter of time before it was announced that the government was accepting bids for the railway. The May 15, 2003 announcement outraged many; over 30,000 British Columbians signed a petition demanding that it remain in public hands. But this was only the beginning of the problems.
On November 21, Canadian Pacific Railway formally withdrew from the bidding complaining that the process was “extremely prejudiced” in favour of CN Rail. Several other bidders complained about the process before it was announced that CN’s $1 Billion bid had won them the 999 year lease. Of course, it is only coincidence that CN Rail has donated some $150,000 to the BC Liberal Party since 1994 (Tieleman, March 11 2004, http://www.straight.com/content.cfm?id=1342 ).
The deal turned from bad to worse on December 28 when police raided the legislature in connection with the deal. There is still a veil of secrecy surrounding the investigation that somehow connected drugs, money laundering and the BC Rail deal to several key ministerial assistants. David Basi, a key political player and ministerial aide, was forced to resign over the scandal.
But of course, none of this was enough to stop the BC Liberals from pushing through their corporate agenda. On July 15 of last year CN Rail took possession of the company. The immediate effects were devastating. Hundreds of unionized workers were laid off as CN Rail closed BC Rail facilities across the province.
The debate between private and public ownership is not just some philosophical disagreement of political ideologues. The consequences of privatization are very concrete. Privatizing BC Rail has placed it under all of the pressures of the capitalist system. The never-ending quest for profit plays a terrible role in our society and specifically in BC Rail. The number of accidents on the rail line has shot up a staggering 500% since last year.
In 2004 there were two train derailments on the BC Rail line. On Monday, December 5 2005 BC Rail saw its tenth train derailment of the year. Many believe that the cause of these accidents is the length of the trains. When BC Rail was operated publicly, the length of the trains rarely exceeded 100 cars. After being privatized, those same tracks carried trains sometimes exceeding 130 cars through environmentally sensitive areas.
On November 4, CN was ordered to limit their trains between Squamish and Clinton to 80 cars. But the order came too late for the Cheakamus River. On August 5, 2005 a train derailed into the river dumping over 40,000 liters of sodium hydroxide into the salmon habitat. The river instantly turned from its usual rich green colour to a foggy brown as silt and sodium hydroxide swept downstream killing every species of fish in its path. Thousands upon thousands of dead fish now line the shore of the once healthy river. It may take generations for the river to recover.
The BC Rail privatization has been an absolute disaster. It serves as a powerful indictment of not only the BC Liberal government, but of the entire capitalist system. This is just one more sign that private interests are incapable of protecting jobs and the environment. The BC Liberals have shown that they have no problem tearing up contracts; it’s time they tear up this one. Take Back BC Rail!
Unabridged story: http://www.marxist.ca/content/view/40/46
Saturday, June 24, 2006
The Collins-Basi friendship dates back to early 1990s; Basi was the only aide hired directly by a B.C. Liberal cabinet minister
David Basi became ministerial assistant to Gary Collins shortly after the May 2001 provincial election, a job that paid $66,800 in 2003.
Basi had applied and was rejected for a B.C. Liberal Caucus staff job after the 1996 election, thwarted after a check of his references and other due diligence. The then-Opposition house leader Gary Collins was reportedly unhappy with the decision to reject Basi, with whom he had formed a friendship when Basi served as an intern with the Liberal Opposition in the early 1990s.
After the 2001 election, Basi was the only ministerial aide hired directly by a cabinet minister, when Gary Collins became the newly elected Minister of Finance, and Dave Basi became his top-level Ministerial Aide. Basi was the only exception. All other MAs were appointed by Martyn Brown, Premier Gordon Campbell's chief of staff.
Basi was a strong Paul Martin supporter, working on the Martin leadership campaign as a key Vancouver Island membership organizer and helping win control of several federal ridings. Former Liberal cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal blamed Basi after Martin forces took over his Vancouver SouthBurnaby constituency.
When EsquimaltJuan de Fuca Conservative MP Keith Martin decided to become a federal Liberal, he met Basi days before the raids.
Basi, his wife Inderjit, a provincial government employee, and his mother, Sukhbir, a chambermaid, own four Victoria-area houses valued at $1.2 million.
In late December, police raided a marijuana grow operation in a house near Victoria purchased by Basi in March 2003. Neighbours told media no one had been living there. Basi's lawyer, Chris Considine, said Basi was unaware of the illegal activity.
Basi is a federal Liberal Party donor, contributing $3,730 between 1998 and 2001, according to Elections Canada. A Sukhbir Basi donated $2,752 in 1997 and 1998.
Another Basi political connection is to Mandeep Sandhu. Basi orchestrated the election of Sandhu to the executive of the federal Liberal riding association in EsquimaltJuan de Fuca on December 7, but Sandhu was disallowed because he wasn't a party member. Two days later, police arrested Sandhu and searched his Saanich house in connection with the drug investigation. They released Sandhu without charges.
Sandhu is a cousin of suspended Victoria police officer Ravinder Dosanjh, with whom he jointly owns a Victoria rental property. Sandhu is also related to Amar Bajwa, another Martin leadership organizer. Bajwa is membership chair in the Vancouver SouthBurnaby riding of which Herb Dhaliwal lost control, and he has defended Basi publicly in the media.
On two occasions, in 1999 and 2001, Gary Collins introduced Bajwa in the B.C. legislature.
From: "Police raids and BC Rail" by Bill Tieleman
Also: "Basi Hirings, Firings Intrigue" by Bill Tieleman
As we wait well into the 3rd year for the Legislature Raids trials to begin, we revisit some background information. The Basi, Virk, and Basi affair is not a difficult or complex issue except for its interlocking cast of characters and their various motives. So, as with a Russian novel, it helps if we can refer to who did what, who said something else, and what happened next. Your input is decidedly welcome.
The Honourable Gary Collins ... while still B.C. Minister of Finance
Joy MacPhail: Mr. Chair, I want to go now to…. This arises out of question period today. I want to look at the lobbyist registration website, please. The minister has said that he never met with Mr. Bornman. I'm sure every single lobbyist in the province is now saying, "Oh God, I hope she doesn't explore this any further," because of course, lobbyists bill on the basis of their connections, on their access, their ability to get access to government ...
Somebody's billing clients a lot of money for their lobbying activities. The one example I asked the minister about today, Erik Bornman — he said he hadn't met with him. Let's see in what other areas Mr. Bornman claims he was going to meet with and billed his client for access…. Mr. Bornman is down as saying that he met with the minister ...
The Certified General Accountants Association was a client of Mr. Bornman, and he claims there were two people he was going to lobby. This minister was one.
Hon. G. Collins: As I said, I've never met with Mr. Bornman, certainly since we were elected ...
J. MacPhail: Erik Bornman claimed he is lobbying the Minister of Finance on behalf of Cap Gemini Ernst and Young. In fact, it was either the Premier or the Minister of Finance that Mr. Bornman was dealing with on that file…. Was it the Minister of Finance on that?
Hon. G. Collins: I may well have met with Cap Gemini. In fact, as I think back, I may well have. I think they're a firm that's well known. But certainly, as I said earlier, I've not met with Erik Bornman on any matter ...
J. MacPhail: ... I don't deny that the minister is telling the truth. I assume he is telling the truth. Except it is interesting that all these people are making big bucks off the grind of politics in this government and it's simply, according to the Minister of Finance, to get a meeting that they don't attend ...
Let me ask the minister. Pilothouse, Brian Kieran's firm, is registered as a lobbyist for this minister in particular. Has he ever met with anyone at Pilothouse?
Hon. G. Collins: First of all, if the member has a concern with how the industry works, she should take it up with the industry, not me.
J. MacPhail: I'm about to.
Hon. G. Collins: Yeah. People can come and ask for meetings with me anytime they want. They don't need to go through anybody ... Now, in response to her specific question, Pilothouse I think is the same company she talked about earlier that Erik Bornman was part of. My understanding is that was the same. Brian Kieran was one partner and Erik Bornman was the other. To answer her question, I don't recall ever meeting with Brian Kieran on an issue either.
J. MacPhail: Oh, I understand this is as much about the lobbying firms that grease the skids of government, particularly the Liberal Party — sorry, not the skids….
Point of Order
Hon. G. Collins: Point of order, Mr. Chairman. Those are pretty severe accusations the member makes, and I think she should be very careful about making them.
J. MacPhail: What point of order is that?
Hon. G. Collins: Well, it's unparliamentary.
J. MacPhail: No, it isn't.
Hon. G. Collins: It is, Mr. Chairman, and I think if you check the record….
J. MacPhail: Tell me what part is unparliamentary.
The Chair: Would the member mind going through the Chair? The minister is going through the Chair, and the member will wait to go through the Chair.
Hon. G. Collins: The member's comments are out of line when she talks of greasing the skids of the party or otherwise. That is a pretty serious allegation, and she should be careful about it.
The Chair: If the member wouldn't mind being very careful about her parliamentary language, it would help the Chair.
J. MacPhail: Absolutely, Mr. Chair. I'm well aware of my parliamentary language. Just because he doesn't like the accusation, doesn't make it unparliamentary, I would say.
These are big donors to the Liberal Party. That's public information. Somehow this government likes to distinguish itself…. I mean, what a day for the Minister of Finance to stand up and claim himself to be pure and say that others should watch out — a pretty rotten day for him to try to make that challenge.
Full record: http:www.legis.gov.bc.ca/Hansard/37th5th/h40303p.htm
Friday, June 23, 2006
Police investigate trading B.C. marijuana for cocaine, organized crime, possible police corruption. And the Opposition battles on ...
Joy MacPhail, 26 April 2004, continues: In April 2002, RCMP and Victoria police launch a joint investigation involving schemes to trade B.C. marijuana for cocaine. The investigation also looks into organized crime and the possible police corruption. May 15, 2003, the government issues requests for proposals for the purchase of B.C. Rail. November 17, 2003, the company hires a fairness adviser, Charles River Associates, and Charles River Associates releases the interim report on the B.C. Rail deal. The report refers to leaks of information. What was the source of those leaks, and what did they contain?
Hon. K. Falcon: The leaks that the member opposite refers to were spelled out in the Charles River Associates report that came out. What he indicated was that the information that was faxed accidentally by the investment banker working on this project to CN…. Immediately upon faxing it, they realized that information shouldn't have been sent. They contacted CN immediately to get that information back — which they did, along with the confirmation that the information wouldn't be used or looked at or what have you. Furthermore, that was information which Charles River took pains to point out was ultimately going to be distributed, and was, to all of the bidders anyhow. It wasn't information that would have a germane impact on the deal itself.
J. MacPhail: I'm looking at page 11 of the November 14, 2003, Charles River report. Again, part of the exercise is to put this information on the public record. It says there were two leaks. Was the minister just describing one there?
Hon. K. Falcon: I just got clarification on that. That was part of the information provided to all the bidders, and though it was a leak, it wasn't a leak that would have been germane to the bidders because they had that information. It was a leak to the media, and it had to do with the Ministry of Transportation's interests in Highway 99 as it relates to the railway line.
J. MacPhail: Let me read from the report of Charles River Associates: "In the second case, we have been informed that the error was quickly identified." Can the minister tell us what that error was? Can he repeat what that error was that this report is referring to?
Hon. K. Falcon: That was the provision of information to CN that they shouldn't have been sent. That was immediately destroyed.
J. MacPhail: But what was the information? We've been trying to find this out for ages. Of course, the fairness adviser doesn't say anything about what the information was. We now know it was sent to CN. Thank you very much to the minister for identifying that. It says: "We have been informed that the error was quickly identified." This is the fairness adviser, who should be speaking more in the positive, I think, rather than in the passive.
What was the action that was taken? Who took the action? Who identified the error?
Hon. K. Falcon: The information was commercial data about B.C. Rail's business operations, information that was ultimately made available to all of the bidders. It was the investment bankers that realized they had inadvertently faxed that particular portion of the information to CN earlier than they should have received it. They contacted the evaluation committee to let them know that they had inadvertently done this. Legal counsel from the government side had contacted CN immediately and asked for legal undertakings from their counsel that they would immediately destroy the information, and that legal undertaking was given.
J. MacPhail: Who are the investment bankers, and when did they discover this? What was the date?
Hon. K. Falcon: The investment banker was CIBC World Markets. We haven't got a specific date, but we are pretty confident it was sometime in mid-October. It would have been…. Yes, we can find out for you. We'll take that on notice and find out.
J. MacPhail: In September CIBC World Markets was caught saying, "Of course, CN would be the best choice for buying B.C. Rail" — early September 2003. That's why I was interested in knowing who it was that leaked to CN. We have in September 2003 the investment bankers saying publicly that CN, of course, is the best choice for buying B.C. Rail. In October we have CIBC World Markets leaking information to CN inadvertently or wrongly. The bid closes in November. How long a process did it take to notify CN, to get the information destroyed and, more importantly, to distribute the same information to all of the other bidders? Timing here is very important.
Hon. K. Falcon: The time involved would be three days maximum.
One thing I should say — I should correct an earlier comment I made — is that the data that was faxed out would be data that would only have gone to the final partner, so I was incorrect in saying it would have ultimately gone to all of them. It actually would have just gone to the final one, so I wanted to correct that.
J. MacPhail: What does that correction mean? The data that was given to CN never, ever went to the other bidders?
Hon. K. Falcon: Yes.
J. MacPhail: Okay. Let me just get this clear. In September 2003, CIBC World Markets, the analyst, who's the investment banker for British Columbia, says: "Of course CN would be the best company to buy B.C. Rail. They're actually doing the bidding of the taxpayers." They show their hand — that CN would be the best choice. That's September. In October there's a leak of commercial data to CN while the bidding is going on. CN is one of four bidders, and that commercial data is never distributed to the other bidders — and somehow this is a fair process?
How does that work? The minister said this data that was leaked to them should have only gone to the final bidder. Well, the problem is: we were in the middle of a bidding process that had four bidders. How is that fair?
Hon. K. Falcon: The CIBC World Markets reference you're making to the CN deal apparently referred to the Ontario Northland deal. One thing I think it is important to point out to the member, as I'm sure the member is aware, is that in those large organizations, those large investment banking and banking concerns, they do have market analysts, who operate quite separately from the investment banking arms. It is quite common. There is what is commonly referred to as a Chinese wall between the two of them, so that the analysts will continue to make comments on how they view the world in the rail sector, for example, and the investment banking arm will operate very independently of that.
The other thing I would point out is that in regards to the information, the reason why it wouldn't go to all the parties is because the information is very commercially sensitive — data that you don't want the competitors to have. You don't want them to have access to all of that data. The final negotiating partner you end up with is the partner you would like to have access to that data.
J. MacPhail: I am very pleased with the forthrightness of the Minister of Transportation. He's what we like to call courageous in telling the truth. But let's be very clear. What the minister has just admitted to is that the leak, which we asked about day after day in the Legislature and in question period…. We now know what it is. It's commercially sensitive information of B.C. Rail that should only go, in the final analysis, to the successful bidder — except that CN got it halfway through the bidding process. If that doesn't give you a leg up, what does?
The playing field wasn't levelled after that. The government didn't say: "Oh, my gosh. That's such a big error; we should start all over again." They didn't do anything. They called up CN after they'd had the data for three days, minimum — at least three days, and that's three days from the time it was discovered that this information had been leaked. They've got three days to absorb it and then destroy it, and the other three bidders get nothing.
Madam Chair, I will just refresh the minister's memory. The Minister of Finance of British Columbia commented on the inappropriateness of the CIBC World Markets analyst making the comments that she did about the B.C. Rail deal. It was around the time of the release of the first-quarter report. The story interfered with the release of the first-quarter report.
It was about a CIBC World Markets analyst — I think it was a woman — who made those inappropriate comments, and she was chastised. The company, the investment banker, was chastised by the Minister of Finance of British Columbia, so the admission was delivered by the government that yes indeed, CIBC World Markets did say this about the sale of B.C. Rail. I find it unbelievable, but I'm very happy that the minister has been so courageous in the truth here that this is the story.
When this was discovered Charles River Associates says this: "In the second case, we have been informed that the error was quickly identified." We now know that the government didn't identify the error. It was CIBC World Markets. We now know it was sensitive commercial information that should only ever be given to the final bidder. We know that. Then the report goes on to say, "We have documented statements from the attorneys" — I love that American language, "attorneys" — "involved, verifying that the data were retrieved from or destroyed by those who had access to it," so fill in the blanks there. It would be the lawyers from CN saying: "Oh yeah. We've destroyed it."
The minister said that process took three days — minimum three days — from the time it was identified. Well, whoop-de-do — and it's the fairness adviser's assessment that there was no problem there? You don't think getting commercially sensitive data that didn't go to anyone else didn't help CN in its bid?
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Who sent Bob Virk on a year's paid vacation?
J. MacPhail: Okay, but what I'm trying to figure out here is how the government came to the conclusion that this was a personnel matter ... I could save the Premier a lot of time if the minister could explain to me how this is a personnel matter, because then I'll at least know that the government has done some sort of analysis of this and that that's what the Premier will be using as well. It's just completely inappropriate for this minister to upload to the Premier and perhaps at the same time mislead me by saying that I can get some answers there. That's why I'm trying to figure out what the government's rationale is.
Either Martyn Brown or the head of the Public Service Agency or the minister's own personnel director or industrial relations director: who gave the minister advice that this was a personnel matter? The minister is using that as a shield because it has legal consequences, legal implications to it. There must have been some advice.
Hon. K. Falcon: I've answered this question repeatedly. As I told the member many times before, this is something she can extensively question, if she feels it's appropriate, at the Premier's estimates. Bob Virk is a staff member. Clearly, there's a personnel aspect related to that. She'll have every opportunity to engender herself in the questioning through the Premier's estimates.
J. MacPhail: Let me put this to the minister. There's no personnel matter here. Mr. Virk is on paid vacation at the taxpayers' expense. That's what he is. There's not one iota of personnel matters or legal matters involved here, because the minister can't put it on record. He's on paid vacation leave. That's what he's doing, and the public has every right to know why he gets a vacation at the taxpayers' expense. He isn't being disciplined. "He is innocent in the eyes of everyone," says the Minister of Transportation.
There is no grievance filed. There's no disciplinary report on Mr. Virk's file. This isn't a personnel matter; this is a shameful giveaway to Mr. Virk of thousands of dollars every month for him to sit God knows where. He doesn't even have to report in. He's probably out of the province on vacation. It's shameful that the minister is trying to hide behind this being a personnel matter. There's not one legal scintilla of reason why this minister can claim this as a personnel matter, yet he refuses to answer questions.
You know, this government refusing to answer questions about Bob Virk and Dave Basi is embarrassing -- absolutely embarrassing. It just kind of indicates that they have something to hide. Who determines what Mr. Virk's vacation is? ... Is Mr. Virk collecting vacation credits while he's suspended with pay? These are all absolutely legitimate questions. They're not personnel questions unless the minister can stand up and say: "The reason why this is a personnel issue is because there's some area of disagreement between the ministry and Mr. Virk and his treatment." The minister cannot demonstrate that at all.
Hon. K. Falcon: I actually have no idea. I would have to find that out for the member, or perhaps more appropriately, when she has the opportunity in the estimates of the Premier's office, she could probably ask them.
J. MacPhail: Okay. I'm going to ask the Premier about the vacation pay being built up by Bob Virk. I can hardly wait. I can hardly wait to get into the Premier's estimates. Mr. Chair, let's move on. I'll be preparing all of these questions to the Premier ...
Bob Virk had access to legislation before it was introduced into the House
... because of the important work Mr. Basi did, he had to be fired and Mr. Virk not. I thought that was interesting, because the ministerial assistant who briefed me on the B.C. Rail legislation was Bob Virk, not Dave Basi. He had a pretty important job, Mr. Virk did. He actually had access to the legislation before the legislation was introduced into the House. Bob Virk briefed me, Mr. Chair.
Then we find out later that the B.C. Rail deal is under suspicion, or parts of it, as a result of those raids, yet Mr. Virk is innocent until proven guilty, and Mr. Dave Basi is fired. That's even after the Minister of Finance admits that Dave Basi never saw legislation, never saw Treasury Board documents, never saw anything as far as I could tell.
Mr. Virk saw all of those. Mr. Virk had access to the confidential Treasury Board information and access to the legislation far before it was tabled in the Legislature, and he's suspended with pay.
[To be continued ... ]
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Thank God for the police raids on the Legislature ... Thank God.
Hansard for 26 April 2004 will be re-visited here, day by day, to reconsider some vital questions put by Joy MacPhail, Leader of the Opposition, and the replies given by Kevin Falcon, then the newly appointed Minister of Transportation, when the raids were only 4 months behind them. Dave Basi had been fired. Bob Virk was on leave of absence with full pay.
What role did Bob Virk play in the minister's office?
Hon. K. Falcon: The question was what role Bob Virk played in the minister's office. The member knows well that I've never worked with Bob Virk. Obviously, I wasn't minister at the time that Bob Virk worked in the office. Obviously, it's impossible for me to describe what role he played, but I would presume that he played the role of a normal ministerial assistant — which, the member would be fully aware of, involves liaising with ministry staff, etc.
J. MacPhail: That's why we have public officials advising the minister — so that there's actual continuity of answers. I'm sure the minister knows that a cabinet shuffle is not a reason to not answer questions. Ministerial continuity is a premise of our British parliamentary system regardless of who holds the office.
I know that Mr. Virk was the ministerial assistant advising me on the B.C. Rail sale legislation. I knew he was involved in those discussions before it was tabled in the Legislature. He had access to confidential information around the legislation. What involvement did he have, other than that, in the B.C. Rail deal? Did he meet with the steering committee? Did he attend meetings of the steering committee that directed the sale of B.C. Rail?
Hon. K. Falcon: I have to go back to what I said before, and that is that I wasn't minister at the time that Mr. Virk was involved. I can't possibly even begin to discuss what his level of involvement is, because I can't possibly do that in any knowledgable way that would add any value to this.
I remind the member that we are referring to the vote for '04-05, and the member is referring to the previous fiscal. Unless there is a question associated with the financial implications, I can't add anything for the member.
J. MacPhail: This deal is being booked in '04-05. The sale and the proceeds of this B.C. Rail deal are being booked in '04-05. I always love it when the government tries to say: "Oh my God, you're a fiscal out of order." Wrong. I want to know whether this deal is going to survive or not, and these questions all relate to the survival of this deal. We've got a police investigation into this sale. We've got part of the deal stopped because of a police investigation.
Mr. Chair, these questions are completely in order. If the minister is afraid to answer them, that's a different issue. It is completely unacceptable for this minister to say: "Oh, I wasn't there, so I don't have to answer these questions." It's completely unacceptable, because the minister is being advised by the very people who sat on the steering committee.
Did Mr. Virk attend steering committee meetings regarding the sale of B.C. Rail?
Hon. K. Falcon: I can confirm that Mr. Virk, according to the advice I'm given, attended some of those meetings.
J. MacPhail: That's what our leaks told us too, so I'm glad our sources are exactly accurate. Bob Virk attended the steering committee meetings where the terms of the B.C. Rail sale were discussed. That's what the Minister of Finance said. That's the body that discussed the sale of the B.C. Rail deal. That's what the former Minister of Transportation said in the Legislature when she was ramming legislation through: "Don't worry. The steering committee handled all of these arrangements."
Mr. Bob Virk attended those steering committee hearings, so he had access to inside information. Mr. Virk also saw the legislation before it was tabled in the Legislature, so he had access to confidential information, both financial and legislative. Did Mr. Virk have access to Treasury Board information through the minister's office regarding the sale of B.C. Rail?
Hon. K. Falcon: Again, I'm left in the position of certainly not being prepared to speculate on what information Mr. Virk may or may not have had access to, because I actually don't know. What I can say is that within my office, typically, the ministerial assistant has access to whatever information is at least passing through them to the minister, to myself, relating to cabinet information and Treasury Board information. That certainly wouldn't be uncommon.
J. MacPhail: I'm forced to compliment the minister, again, for his courage. In this case, it's speculative courage, but nevertheless, it's courage.
It is completely unacceptable for the corporate information to disappear with the change of a ministerial political staffer. It is completely unacceptable, so the minister should be able to answer the question. Now he's answering it in a way that actually implicates him, to say that one would have to reach the conclusion that Bob Virk did have access to confidential Treasury Board information.
Being a smart person, I should just sit down and accept that, but I also know the minister knows the answer to that question or can get the answer to that question, because it is simply unacceptable for him to not outright confirm that Mr. Bob Virk had access to confidential Treasury Board information.
Mr. Chair, the reason why this is important is because there's some question about when this deal was actually approved and whether it was approved by cabinet, but we do have everybody admitting that Treasury Board, at least, dealt with this. We can only assume that Mr. Virk, given the practices of ministers' offices, had access not only to confidential legislative information and not only attended steering committee meetings but had access to Treasury Board information regarding the sale of the B.C. Rail deal.
On March 2, Chris Trumpy advises the Minister of Transportation of the RCMP's conversation with him, Mr. Trumpy, that would eventually lead to the cancellation of the Roberts Bank spur line sale. Yet when the Minister of Transportation was questioned on March 3 in the media scrum to which he just referred, when he was asked about whether the Roberts Bank deal may be tainted, the Minister of Transportation said, emphatically, no. Why?
Hon. K. Falcon: The member should know that when you're in the position of minister…. What I received from Mr. Trumpy through a very brief…. When I say very brief, I mean an unscheduled meeting that lasted certainly not more than a few minutes. Mr. Trumpy advised me that he received a visit from the RCMP and indicated he may have information that would suggest there could be a problem associated with it, and he would be getting back to me to talk about that.
That is the full and total extent of what I knew at that point on March 2. That certainly, I want to underscore to the member, is not information that, as a responsible minister, I am going to do anything on until I get some facts and some more information from Mr. Trumpy about what this information has to do with or what the facts are regarding it.
J. MacPhail: I don't care whether the meeting lasted 15 seconds. It's the basis upon which this minister said the decision-making process started to roll about cancelling the Roberts Bank spur line sale. The minister didn't just say, "I'm not prepared to comment," when asked whether the Roberts Bank deal may be tainted. He said, emphatically, no, and he was emphatically misleading at that point because he already had advice that it may be tainted. He already had that advice. He had it on March 2, and on March 3 he deliberately misled the media.
March 1, the RCMP visit Chris Trumpy. March 2, Chris Trumpy visits the minister. March 3, the minister is asked a question about the Roberts Bank deal and whether it's tainted. He says no. No wonder people don't believe this government. No wonder they're suspicious that they're not being told the truth. They have every right to be suspicious. I think that the media…. I will say this. I think the minister deliberately misled the media on March 3 in that scrum — deliberately misled them.
On March 3, I was also in estimates with the Minister of Finance. It was during those estimates that the Minister of Finance said he met with Pat Broe, who's the head of the company that holds Omnitrax, which is bidding on the Roberts Bank spur line sale. It was on March 3 that the Minister of Finance said he met with Pat Broe twice: once before the B.C. Rail deal, the $1 billion sale; and once after that sale.
The Minister of Finance admitted that he met with Pat Broe, the CEO of Broe Companies, of which Omnitrax is a subsidiary, on two separate occasions. Can this minister tell me if he was aware of those meetings?
Hon. K. Falcon: The answer is no.
J. MacPhail: When did the minister become aware that the Minister of Finance was meeting with Pat Broe, the head of Omnitrax, while the bidding process for the Roberts Bank spur line was going on? When did he become aware of that?
Hon. K. Falcon: The fact is, I'm not even sure when I became aware. I think I recall reading something in the media about the member's questioning of the Minister of Finance in estimates or something. I have some brief recollection that I read something in the media, but that would be it.
J. MacPhail: I just want to clarify. It is this Minister of Transportation who is responsible for the sale of B.C. Rail — am I correct? — including the spur line to Roberts Bank.
Hon. K. Falcon: The member knows very well that that's correct.
J. MacPhail: Okay, and he was the minister on March 3.
When the Minister of Finance was asked questions about these private meetings with Pat Broe by a Vancouver Sun reporter, the Minister of Finance admitted that he discussed the Roberts Bank spur line sale with Pat Broe. He said, "Oh, it was inconsequential," but he did admit to discussing it. That's his interpretation. It was inconsequential — a private dinner between the Minister of Finance and one of the bidders on the Roberts Bank spur line sale while the bidding process was going on. The Minister of Finance admits that it was discussed at their private dinner.
Did the Minister of Finance ever tell this Minister of Transportation about the nature of those discussions? Did he ever declare that discussion in what's supposed to be an open and transparent bidding process, of which Omnitrax was one of the bidders?
Hon. K. Falcon: No.
J. MacPhail: Well, I guess for reasons other than the RCMP investigation, it's darn good that this deal was cancelled, when you've got those kinds of private meetings going on about an ongoing bid. Thank God for the police raids on the Legislature is all I guess we can say here. Thank God.
HANSARD 26 APRIL 04 - 3 May 04 (scroll way, way down)
to Page 10469 - Estimates Debate in Douglas Fir Room
Special thanks to Lynn who remembered this, and reminded me.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The crack of doom ... just another noise
This time, it's Basi, Young, and Duncan, each of whom have been charged with four new counts of fraud on the government and breach of trust.
Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino alleges Basi accepted $50,000. from developers, Anthony Ralph Young and James Seymour Duncan, in relation to an application to remove some land from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The land in question appears to be a 650-home subdivision near Victoria in Sooke, B.C., by Young & Duncan's company, Swiftsure Developments.
Trial date is 29 June, 2006 and as these charges appear to be separate from the B.C. Rail affair, it should be less complex. Therefore, it's possible that this trial may proceed without a series of postponements.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Basi the highest-profile ministerial assistant
B.C. premier urged to explain aides' departure
Dec. 31 2003 Canadian Press
... Campbell needs to give the public more information, Norman Ruff, a political scientist at the University of Victoria, said Tuesday.
"The firing of [Minister of Finance, Gary] Collins' assistant seems to suggest that they know more in the premier's office than what the public does," said Ruff, who taught Basi when he was working towards a bachelor of arts in political science in the early 1990s.
"The bottom line is the premier said he is committed to openness and transparency . . . (and) the kind of speculation that is rife right now is not healthy."
Ruff's colleague Michael Prince agreed.
"At this stage, I think (Solicitor General Rich) Coleman has it in control," said Prince.
But Prince said if there was any reason for Campbell to return home [from Hawaii] immediately, it would be to explain the departures of Virk and Basi.
"They are not charged with anything."
Even though police have stressed the investigation is not aimed at any elected officials, Ruff said public perception still will damage the Liberal government.
"There's a police raid on the legislative building and that casts aspersions on the business that's being conducted," he said.
And because Virk and Basi were well-connected Liberals, federally and provincially, Ruff said that could cause damage to the federal Liberals.
"The B.C. wing of the federal Liberal party could well be the first casualty of this," he said. "They have great hopes of making inroads in B.C."
Ruff said Basi is well-known among the Young Liberals and was a "born networker when I knew him and he obviously fine-tuned those skills."
Basi joined the legislative internship program after graduation, eventually working for the Liberal caucus while it was in Opposition. He became Collins's ministerial assistant when the Liberals formed government.
"He was the eyes and ears of Collins, and Collins is the most powerful minister and Basi has to be the highest-profile ministerial assistant," said Ruff.
[Full story www.ctv/ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20031231/campbell_arrests_031231/canada?s_name= ]
Scandal has taken toll on Basi, a once-powerful figure inside the Liberal scene ...
David Basi worked in the Finance Ministry; police monitored his phone conversations and e-mails
Lori Culbert, With a File From Miro Cernetig
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
It was October of 2003 when police started listening to Dave Basi's conversations on his home, government and cellular phones, as well as monitoring his e-mails.
They were looking for evidence linked to a large cocaine and marijuana-trafficking operation between B.C. and Ontario.
What the RCMP say they picked up, while eavesdropping on the former ministerial aide to then-finance minister Gary Collins, was startling new information that led them to a separate -- and more high-profile -- investigation.
In late 2003, police raided a marijuana-growing operation in a Vancouver Island home owned by Basi that was rented to tenants. Basi's lawyer said later that his client was unaware that pot was being grown in the home, and charges related to that raid have since been stayed.
Soon after that, members of the RCMP's commercial crime unit stunned the province by raiding the stately home of the provincial government in Victoria on Dec. 28, 2003. Images of police officers carrying boxes of files out of the legislature dominated the news media, while a police spokesman said the investigation had major links to organized crime.
Among the offices searched were Basi's Finance Ministry digs, and those of Virk, then-ministerial assistant to former transportation minister Judith Reid.
Basi, now 39, was immediately fired from his $67,000 job, while Virk was suspended with pay.
Several other locations were also searched that same day, including Bornman's Vancouver home and the Pilothouse offices.
While rooting through Bornman's personal belongings, police say in the search warrant documents they found cheque stubs from Bornman's other company, Pacific Public Affairs Corporation, made out to Aneal Basi for "contract writing."
When they followed the money trail, police allege they uncovered 11 cheques payable to Aneal Basi and corresponding deposits of the same amount of cash into Dave Basi's bank accounts.
The cheques start May 29, 2002 and continued until Sept. 11, 2003, and ranged in value from $1,500 to $4,500 -- totalling $23,705. The search warrant documents further allege there were invoices totalling another $7,705 made out to Aneal Basi by Pacific Public Affairs in 2002.
Bornman was paying money to Dave Basi, the search warrant documents allege, in exchange for his "assistance in referring clients and ... on matters of government."
However, another set of search warrant documents, heavily edited before their release in September 2004, provide a small peek into the alleged bribery and kickback scheme.
Police say Dave Basi and Virk assisted OmniTRAX in its bid to purchase BC Rail by supplying information on the tender process, and in exchange may have received a benefit from Bornman because OmniTRAX was a Pilothouse client.
Bornman -- who was then communications director for the B.C. chapter of the federal Liberals and had worked as an organizer for former prime minister Paul Martin's leadership campaign -- may have recommended the two men for jobs with the federal government, police say.
The documents allege Bornman may have known that Basi and Virk's credentials had been fabricated or exaggerated on their resumes. Indeed, on Jan. 29, 2004, police executed a search warrant at the University of Victoria so the student records of Basi and Virk could be seized.
The document suggests Bornman recommended the two provincial aides in a list of names he sent to Mark Marissen, who was B.C. co-campaign chair for the federal Liberals in January's election and is the husband of former B.C. Liberal deputy premier Christy Clark.
The earlier documents also state police believed that Basi may have given information regarding Roberts Bank, a BC Rail spur line, to Bruce Clark, a federal Liberal fundraiser and Christy Clark's brother.
In March of 2004, Victoria scrapped its plans to sell the smaller Roberts Bank line near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal after RCMP investigators revealed that confidential government information had fallen into the wrong hands.
Bruce Clark declined to be interviewed Monday, but in the past has maintained he did nothing wrong.
More than a year after the drug investigation, Project Everywhichway, was launched, Basi was among eight people charged on Sept. 15, 2004 with drug-trafficking offences.
He was personally charged with production of marijuana and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, between March and December 2003.
It was alleged Basi conspired with Jasmohan Singh Bains and Mandeep Singh Sandhu to launder proceeds of crime exceeding $5,000 between Dec. 9, 2000 and Dec. 11, 2003.
Sandhu at the time was on the executive of the Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca federal Liberal riding association because he had been hand-picked by Basi for the position. He is a cousin of Victoria police Const. Ravinder Dosanjh, who was suspended with pay Dec. 15, 2003 in connection with the investigation.
Exactly one year after his suspension, Dosanjh was charged with wilfully attempting to obstruct justice for allegedly counselling his cousin, Sandhu, to "make false statements to law-enforcement officials" about the origin of money seized in a related police search of his residence.
Nearly one year after the raid on the legislature, criminal charges were laid against the three former provincial government workers on Dec. 21, 2004.
Dave Basi and Virk were charged with accepting a bribe as a government official, accepting a bribe from someone dealing with government, influence peddling, breach of trust, and two counts of fraud over $5,000. Aneal Basi was charged with accepting a bribe and breach of trust.
Court documents allege Virk and Dave Basi "recklessly put at risk the bidding process. . . for BC Rail in disclosing to interested third-parties confidential government documents and confidential government information including cabinet confidences."
Virk, who had been on a year-long paid leave of absence since the legislature raids, was fired immediately.
Aneal Basi was fired Jan. 17, 2005 -- the day he completed a health-related leave.
The lawyers for all three men have said they maintain their innocence. They are scheduled to go on trial in June.
And now Basi is facing a new separate legal dilemma. On Monday he was charged with three counts of "fraud on the government" and breach of trust for allegedly taking $50,000 for offering his help in an application to remove farmland from the agricultural land reserve.
The scandal has taken a toll on Basi, a once-powerful figure inside the Liberal scene who now has deep circles under his eyes.
"It's been extremely devastating," Basi told Global television's Victoria bureau chief Keith Baldrey on Monday.
"Just imagine one day you have a normal life with your family and you're doing normal things and then all of a sudden you know, someone flicks a switch, and your whole life has fallen into turmoil and you don't know what to do, what to say, where to go. It's just been very, very, very difficult for the family."
Basi maintains he will be found not guilty on all charges.
"I long for the day when I can go and I can actually clear my name and actually wake up and feel, almost, like a free man."
[Full story: http://working.canada.com/components/printstory/printstory4.aspx?s_id=H%2bYGeXGP1g8D8YWN5Y6BcrNdVW8Aq2%2fKeRH7MqbRW13HyDq0j1xvq%3d%3d ]
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Ravinder Dosanjh has "vast property interests"
January 12, 2004
Ravinder Dosanjh, 37, who was suspended with pay Dec. 15, 2003 is a 13-year veteran of the police force, and owns a vast number of properties in the Victoria area.
Dosanjh is director of Dosam Developments Ltd., which lists its address as 4487 Densmore Ave. in Victoria. Corrections officer Jarnail Samra is co-director of the business.
Dosanjh owns the Densmore property, with its two-storey home worth $260,000, according to the B.C. Assessment Authority.
He is also listed as owner of 2163 West Weiler Ave., in North Saanich assessed at $310,000. Mandeep S. Sandhu, a courier, is listed as an additional owner.
Dosanjh is listed as an additional owner of a single-family home at 1289 Walnut St. in Victoria, assessed at $167,900. Samra, a worker with the Children's and Family Ministry, is listed as the owner.
Victoria Police Chief Paul Battershill, who has been very reluctant to talk about the case, has now said there is an "indirect relationship" between Dosanjh and one of two ministerial assistants whose offices were raided at the legislature.
Dosanjh, he said, is being investigated on allegations of "obstruction of justice and breach of trust."
According to leaked information, the police investigation into the drugs aspect of the story has involved a suspected influential Victoria drug trafficker related to the Victoria Police Officers.
Meanwhile, Samra also has his name on a number of other properties, according to public documents. He is listed as:
- Owner of 1975 Grandview Dr. in Victoria, assessed at $303,600.
- Owner of 1190 Burnside Rd. West in Victoria, assessed at $329,000.
- Co-owner with Dosanjh of two Victoria strata properties, which were bought on Dec. 9, 2003.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Can a trial just go missing?
This morning, June 4, I e.mailed again, asking "Any news of Ravinder Dosanjh?" And here's the reply:
I'd say that Vaughn Palmer has done his best for us. But those bothersome question marks still blink and flash in the air all around us ... can a trial just disappear into thin air? ... And everybody pretend they didn't notice? ... If so, isn't that news? ... And isn't former Constable Ravinder Dosanjh (and his family) going stark, raving nuts with the ominous uncertainties which have invaded his life?
Friday, June 02, 2006
What happened to Ravinder Singh Dosanjh?
Dosanjh is only peripherally connected to the Legislature Raids revolving around Dave Basi & Bob Virk. But the Dosanjh trial does represent the first real accountability of anybody even remotely accused in that historic affair.
I've been tracking Basi & Virk for the 2-1/2 years since Dec. 29 2003 when RCMP Sgt. John Ward warned the province that organized crime had crept like a cancer into all levels of society.
I saw it as important to watch how the Ravinder Dosanjh case proceeded and what it revealed. But I could find nothing, after May 17, 2 days into the trial. So I began asking around.
Today, 2 June, I received some news via Vaughn Palmer, who gave permission for me to post his comments here:
Vaughn Palmer wrote:
case sat for a day or two, then was adjourned. i don't know if and when it will resume. the main basi/virk case has been put off until december.
Vancouver Sun Victoria Columnist
BC Mary replied:
Thanks, Vaughn. Doesn't the presiding judge usually give a reason for adjournment?
I don't want to sound conspiratorial, but it seems odd to approve an adjournment without some good reason for putting a police officer's career on hold indefinitely.
Is it OK by you, if I include your reply on The Legislature Raids blogspot?
VP graciously responded:
post away....we're checking the court records to see when this goes to court next. but i am not aware of any unusual reason for the adjournment.
Vancouver Sun Victoria Columnist
I'm not doubting Palmer, nor am I unappreciative of his response, but questions began whirling around my head. I think it was when he used the term "for a day or two" when, ordinarily, Palmer is cutting-edge precise. It tells us that he wasn't there, he didn't know how long the trial had gone on. This is the opening trial to the larger, critically important trial of David Basi and Bob Virk. And Palmer wasn't there?
Then ... surely a trial isn't adjourned without a reason. Surely a good journalist like Vaughn Palmer, even if he hadn't attended that trial, would have noted its significance. Surely some media representative did make notes and reported the conclusion of the Ravinder Dosanjh trial in the daily media? If not, who could decide not to continue reporting on a story like this?
Another thing: Judge Bennett said that the Basi/Virk trial date would be "Not earlier than September 1, and not later than December 1."
Well ... all this vindicates The Legislature Raids blogspot. Can't quite believe it, but it does look as if "checking the court records" wouldn't have happened, if I hadn't asked Vaughn Palmer ... who then asked for the court records ...
It should worry us a lot, that this first trial on obstruction of justice by a Victoria police officer, appears to have disappeared.
I'll post more, right here, as it comes in. That's what this blogspot is all about, after all.