Saturday, March 31, 2007


"The Crown" blocked? In denial? What?


Isn't it marvelous, the way something can be right in front of our eyes ... and we don't see it? Over and over, we've been told that "The Crown" has fallen behind in providing documents necessary to a fair trial for Basi, Virk and Basi.

"The Crown" failed to provide all those documents. "The Crown" needs to respond to the defence Application for Disclosure. The Crown?

That's what I thought ... that The Crown was failing in its very important duties. The Crown, I thought, seemed to be doing an inexplicably sloppy job of not providing documents which the defence requested. The Crown.

How did I get the idea that "The Crown" had full access to whatever documents are required to conduct a fair trial of Basi, Virk, Basi?

Well, in this case, "It's the government, stupid." It's the government which holds all those documents (in trust, on behalf of the public, I thought). And so it's the government which poor ol' Bill Berardi, Crown Prosecutor, must turn to, as he tries to fulfill his own immense duties as "The Crown" (that's us) vs. Basi, Virk, Basi.

Poor ol' Berardi. Imagine his predicament, caught between a clamouring public and the Campbell Government.

Just imagine: Bill B. picks up the phone: "Ah, er Gordon ... I'm trying to find the written reasons for the instant dismissal of Dave Basi ..." And Gordon cuts in with "Bill? Bill who? Oh, that must be Bill 6, well, we've dealt with that. See my E.A. for copies." Slam.

Poor ol' Bill. Remember Bhupinder's little eyewitness report from Justice Bennett's courtroom, in which Ol' Bill was seen slumped hopelessly in his chair while the defence lawyers battled for permission to enter the Project Room? Poor, uncomfortable Ol' Bill. [See more about Berardino on "I want to investigate things for myself" by Bhupinder Mattu, published in this blog on 1/27/07.]

And yet, dammit, what about us? When they say "The Crown" doesn't that mean you? me? All of us? So what about the public's right to know? What about history's need to know? What about a fair trial? What about giving Bill Berardino the documents he needs to prosecute this hugely important B.C. Rail trial?

Sheesh ... only 70 questions?? But the B.C. Opposition finally stood up and delivered those questions. Next date to watch for: April 16.

- BC Mary.

Friday, March 30, 2007


B.C. Rail lobbyists contacted Finance officials, writes Gary Mason


Globe and Mail - 30 March 2007

VANCOUVER — ... Back in August of 2003, Paul Taylor was arguably the most powerful bureaucrat in the B.C. government and a friend of Brian Kieran, a lobbyist with the Victoria-based government relations firm Pilothouse. Pilothouse represented OmniTRAX, an American company that was bidding on the controversial rail sale that was being handled by the B.C. Ministry of Finance. {snip}

In an e-mail to Mr. Bornmann and a third partner, Jamie Elmhirst, dated Aug. 23, 2003, Mr. Kieran talks about a fishing trip he'd had earlier in the day with Mr. Taylor. The e-mail describes how Mr. Taylor went to bat for Pilothouse in a bid to get the firm work with the New Car Dealers of BC, formerly called the B.C. Automobile Dealers Association, of which Mr. Taylor was president before becoming deputy finance minister.

The memo describes Mr. Taylor recalling a recent meeting he'd had with Glen Ringdal, current president of the association.

"Paul told Glen he needed GR [government relations] on the ground . . . needed us," the e-mail reads.

"Paul says they have been missing stuff. He is totally amazed that BCADA has not got in the habit of coming to him for help on their issues.

"Paul says he continues to be very close friends with several store owners and really likes the industry. One owner has offered to bank roll Paul if he ever decided to buy a dealership. Paul was making it clear he will be there for us."

The e-mail then goes on to state that Mr. Taylor apparently told Mr. Ringdal he would have to pay about $50,000 a year for good government relations work.

"That's why Glen says he has a number in mind," wrote Mr. Kieran, referring to an earlier discussion with Mr. Ringdal. "Knowing that I'm inclined to come in at $6,000 [a month] and be prepared to retreat to $5,000. It will be more than the $50,000 but Glen doesn't have many options and he's still saving thousands."

The memo goes on: "Paul also says he has a special fund for $1 million for special projects."

In a reply to the e-mail later that same evening, Mr. Elmhirst writes, "Yah, well I could come up with this kind of great intel too if I lived next door to a blabby deputy minister!"

Contacted by The Globe and Mail about the e-mail, Mr. Ringdal confirmed that Pilothouse was hired by the association around this time to do some lobbying on its behalf in Victoria.

Asked if it was Mr. Taylor who recommended Pilothouse to him, Mr. Ringdal said: "It's not inconceivable. I got to know Paul because he's a friend of one of our very big dealers. That's where I would run into him. The fact he would make that kind of suggestion would not be untoward. That's very possible but I don't quite recall."

Later, Mr. Ringdal said he respected Mr. Taylor's understanding of how government worked. Asked about the overall contents of Mr. Kieran's e-mail, Mr. Ringdal said: "It sounds to me like [Mr. Taylor] was helping them get work and indeed he did. Which turned out to be fine."

Mr. Ringdal said that after Pilothouse was hired, he recalls being in several meetings with Finance Ministry staff who would have reported directly to Mr. Taylor. But he can only recall Mr. Taylor being in "one or two" meetings in which Mr. Ringdal and possibly a representative from Pilothouse would have been lobbying for changes that benefited the automobile dealers association.

At the time, the automobile dealers were looking for a number of tax cuts from the Finance Ministry.

There is no evidence that Mr. Taylor specifically approved or recommended specific changes that would benefit the association.

Mr. Taylor, meantime, said he was recently sent a copy of the e-mail by a person he would not identify. He said it was likely leaked to the media "to achieve mischief."

"It's an unfortunate e-mail that reflected a private conversation between two people [he and Mr. Kieran]. We were out fishing together and at the end of the day there's nothing of real substance in it I would say."

Mr. Taylor confirmed that he and Mr. Kieran had boats in the same marina and would go fishing together from time to time.

"Go back and understand one thing," Mr. Taylor told The Globe. "I was past president of the automobile dealers association. So I'd seen Mr. Ringdal from time to time. I may have had conversations with him from time to time."

He said he did not have any recollection about talking to Mr. Ringdal about hiring Pilothouse. {snip}

Mr. Taylor is now president of the Crown-owned Insurance Corporation of B.C. Mr. Kieran and partner Mr. Bornmann are expected to testify for the Crown.

Full story at:

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Opposition asks: why is government refusing to release documents?

In an attempt to get the judge to order the government to release documents that are essential to their defence, lawyers for Basi, Virk and Basi filed an application for disclosure in early March. Now Carole James and the NDP Opposition are demanding answers - and a public enquiry to get them.

The circumstances of the sale of BC Rail lie at the heart of the case, and in the Legislature Carole James asked why has the government failed -- for over a year -- to release the documents? When this case began, the premier personally pledged that the government would fully cooperate in the investigation. Now it seems that the government is withholding information. Why is the government refusing to cooperate?"

The reason could be that the defense lawyers are alleging that Basi was carrying out the political instructions of his superiors - with their knowledge and consent."These allegations suggest other officials like former Finance Minister Gary Collins may have been much more involved than anyone has admitted" said James.

"It is time to clear the air" said James. "The Campbell government must immediately release the documents. They must also commit to holding a public inquiry into the sale of BC Rail as soon as the criminal proceedings are over. British Columbians deserve to know the truth, and a public inquiry is the only way we will ever know what happened."

From The Democrat. March 2007.
[I think many of us have failed to distinguish between the duties of the Crown prosecutors and the duties of the government. I had thought that all documents were available to the Crown prosecutors and that, if the Crown failed to provide documents it was entirely their fault, nobody else's. This may, in fact, be true. But having now heard from the B.C. Opposition, it appears that there is another active participant in the trial of Basi, Virk, Basi -- the government -- and that they may be sitting on documents crucial to a fair trial for three former employees. -BC Mary]


Bill Tieleman with a new bombshell ...


By Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun
March 29, 2007

Defence lawyers filed thousands of pages of material Wednesday to support a previous disclosure application related to two former provincial government aides facing trial on charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting a benefit.

The police investigation, which began with a drug trafficking probe in 2002, led the RCMP to a raid on the legislature in December 2003, when search warrants were executed on the offices of Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi and Bobby Singh Virk.

Basi's cousin, Aneal Basi, a former Liberal communications officer, also is accused of two counts of money-laundering. The offences are related to the $1-billion sale of BC Rail to Canadian National Railway.

Vancouver lawyer Michael Bolton, representing Dave Basi, said Wednesday that about 2,000 pages of defence material were filed in support of its disclosure application. The material includes police notes and information from wiretap logs, he said.

Bolton said the material likely won't be publicly released until it is examined by the trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

The disclosure application is scheduled to be heard starting April 2 and is expected to take a few days. The defence claims hundreds of documents still haven't been disclosed by police and special prosecutor Bill Berardino.

Beginning April 16, the defence will launch into two voir dires: The first will involve a legal challenge of the wiretap authorization -- a judge authorized police to secretly record phone conversations -- and the second will be a challenge of the search warrants. At the time of the raid, Dave Basi was a ministerial assistant to Gary Collins, then finance minister. Virk was a ministerial assistant to then transportation minister Judith Reid. The Crown alleges the ministerial assistants put the bidding process for BC Rail at risk by leaking documents in hopes of securing federal government positions or other benefits.

[The headline contradicts Paragraph #4, doesn't it? - BC Mary.]
Bill - Number One guy on the B.C. Rail Case - thank you!


B.C. Opposition speaks up: "Come clean on B.C. Rail" they say. "Call a Public Inquiry! and answer these 70 questions!!"


For Immediate Release
March 29, 2007


VICTORIA–In an effort to get the B.C. Liberal government to come clean on the problematic circumstances surrounding the sale of B.C. Rail, New Democrat MLA Leonard Krog is demanding that the Attorney General provide answers to a series of 70 questions.

“It has become increasingly clear that the Campbell Liberals will do whatever they can to avoid being held accountable for what might have happened during the sale of B.C. Rail“, said Krog, the New Democrat Critic for the Attorney General. “British Columbians deserve answers to these questions.”

Under the rules of the B.C. Legislative Assembly, an MLA can submit written questions for any government Minister. These questions are in addition to those raised during oral question period.

“Several years after the Campbell Liberals broke their promise not to sell B.C. Rail, the people of British Columbia are still waiting to know what went on during those negotiations,” said Krog, the MLA for Nanaimo.

“For instance, the Attorney General has refused to answer our questions about whether his government will commit to hold a public inquiry into the sell-off of B.C. Rail as soon as the criminal proceedings conclude so that B.C. taxpayers can finally get the answers they deserve,” continued Krog. “That is completely unacceptable.”

In April, the B.C. Supreme Court will begin hearing the case for three former Liberal political staff facing charges of fraud, influence peddling, and money laundering as a result of police investigations that culminated in the December 2003 raid of the Legislature.

-- 30 --

The questions submitted are available upon request or from the Legislature website at :

Media Contact: Sara Goldvine (250)208-3560


Monday, April 16 [Comment: On this date, a 3-week hearing on disclosure begins in B.C. Supreme Court in the matter of HMTQ vs Basi, Virk, Basi. - BC Mary]

1 Mr. Krog to ask the Hon. Attorney General the following questions pertaining to the BC Rail deal:--
1. Will the government hold a public inquiry into the sell-off of BC Rail as soon as the criminal proceedings conclude so that B.C. taxpayers can finally get the answers they deserve?
2. When did the government first learn that the BC Rail deal was the target of an in-depth RCMP investigation?
3. When will the government release all documents -- including documents which may not be directly linked to the charges -- that relate to government policies or decisions regarding BC Rail?
4. Has the investigation into the sale of BC Rail uncovered evidence that other government policies or decisions may have been illegally or inappropriately affected? If yes, will the government release all such documents -- including documents which may not be directly related to the charges?
5. Did the BC Rail Steering Committee discuss the potential for the BC Rail deal to collapse if only one bidder remained in the bidding process?
6. Will the government release all minutes for meetings of the BC Rail Steering Committee?
7. Will the government release all documents produced for the BC Rail Steering Committee?
8. Did members of the Steering Committee or other members of the government caucus meet with or communicate with any of the proponents or their representatives during the process to sell BC Rail?
9. Did the Premier or any of his staff meet with or communicate with any of the proponents or their representatives during the process to sell BC Rail?
10. Can the government explain why then-Solicitor General Rich Coleman briefed the Premier before the search warrants were executed?
11. Can the government explain why then-Solicitor General Rich Coleman briefed the Premier's Chief of Staff Martyn Brown immediately after the warrants were executed and before alerting the public?
12. Why was Martyn Brown given the go-ahead to fire Dave Basi immediately, prior to any charges being laid?
13. How can the government defend the propriety of the Solicitor General's actions against the charge that in briefing the Premier and his top political staffer, this government put its political interests ahead of the public interest?
14. Why was provincial government staff allowed to organize for the federal Liberals in the Legislature using taxpayer resources?
15. What steps did the Premier take to ensure that the BC Liberal Party did not benefit from illegal activities by staff?
16. Will the government release the tapes and/or transcripts of phone conversations between the Premier and government ministers that were gathered during the criminal investigation into the sale of BC Rail?
17. Given the government's own forecasts for significant coal mining activity, why were projections based on coal export growth deliberately left out of revenue calculations for the BC Rail line?
18. Did the government consider canceling the sale of the BC Rail freight division?
19. Will the government release any and all correspondence with the RCMP and BC Rail about rescinding the sale of the BC Rail freight division?
20. If the government considered canceling the sale of the BC Rail freight division, was compensation considered for any proponents?
21. What discussions took place concerning the issue of whether CN Rail had paid too much or too little for the BC Rail freight division?
22. What was the estimated value of former BC Rail assets in 2003, before they were sold? What is the estimated value of those former BC Rails assets now?
23. Did CP Rail express concerns about the clear breach of fairness in the process to sell BC Rail prior to their letter of Nov. 21, 2003?
24. Did the government -- including any and all government ministers, the BC Rail steering committee, the government caucus and/or its advisors or technical specialists -- ever discuss the consequences of OmniTRAX dropping out of the bidding process prior to or following the withdrawal of CP Rail?
25. Did the government consider the potential consequences of a small number of proponents or a single proponent during the sale of BC Rail for its goal of "maximizing value to the province"?
26. Did the government consider the potential negative political ramifications of a small number of proponents or a single proponent during the sale of BC Rail?
27. What was discussed at the Dec. 12, 2003, meeting held at Vancouver restaurant Villa del Lupo between the Minister of Finance and senior executives from OmniTRAX, the second-place finisher in the bidding process for the government-owned BC Rail?
28. Will the government ensure that tapes and transcripts resulting from the surveillance of the Minister of Finance's meeting with OmniTRAX officials are made public?
29. Did the Minister of Finance meet with other proponents during the transaction process?
30. Was it the Minister of Finance who ordered confidential government information to be leaked to a lobby firm representing OmniTRAX?
31. If it was not the Minister of Finance who ordered confidential government information to be leaked to a lobby firm representing OmniTRAX, was the Premier's Office or any other government official responsible for this order?
32. Will the government release the "meeting minutes, presentations and other documents" referred to in the Charles River Associates report on the BC Rail bidding process?
33. Did Charles River Associates review meetings, conversations or communications outside the official process -- particularly those including ministers and ministerial aides -- in their analysis of the fairness of the BC Rail transaction process?
34. Will the government release all documents including emails, reports, interview transcripts relating to the two information leaks referenced in the Charles River Associates report?
35. Can the government provide concrete evidence for their claim that the information leaks referenced in the Charles River Associates report did not materially affect the sale of BC Rail?
36. Will the government provide the full list of files and issues in the purview of or involving David Basi, Aneal Basi and Bob Virk between June 2001 and December 2003?
37. Did the government order an internal investigation into every file that Mr. Basi touched while he worked as a top political aide to the Minister of Finance -- and if not, why not?
38. Did the government order an internal investigation into every file that Mr. Virk touched while he worked as a top political aide to the Minister of Transportation -- and if not, why not?
39. Will the government provide an explanation as to why Dave Basi was fired immediately -- prior to any charges -- while Bob Virk was only suspended?
40. Can the government provide assurances and evidence of the statement made by the then-Finance Minister in December 2003 that Dave Basi "was not involved in the budget process, never has been" and "was not involved in the drafting of legislation or policy development."
41. Will the government conduct a review of every decision made to remove land from the ALR while Mr. Basi worked in the Campbell administration?
42. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities and files that involved Dave Basi and/or Bob Virk and the principals and staff of Pilothouse Public Affairs?
43. Is the government aware of any other potential or ongoing investigations that involve Basi, Virk, or Pilothouse and any other minister, ministry or public body -- and if so, what are they?
44. Will the government provide a full enumeration of the roles played in this investigation -- or any other related investigation -- by Mark Marissen, husband of then Deputy Premier Christy Clark, and Bruce Clark, the brother of the then-Deputy Premier?
45. What materials did the Special Prosecutor withhold from the defence that were the subject of the February 27, 2007 defence application?
46. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities associated with Pilothouse Public Affairs?
47. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities associated with K&E Public Affairs?
48. Why did the government allow Erik Bornman of Pilothouse Public Affairs to continue his lobbying activities after he had informed Bill Berardino that he had bribed Dave Basi?
49. Why did the government allow Brian Kieran of Pilothouse Public Affairs to continue his lobbying activities after he had informed the RCMP that he had tried to bribe Dave Basi?
50. Can the government assure British Columbians that lobbyists Erik Bornman and Brian Kieran no longer have access to senior government staff?
51. Why did the BC Liberal Party continue to accept money in 2004 from lobbyists named in the original warrants, long after the raids on the Legislature?
52. Why won't the BC Liberal government allow an all-party review of the Lobbyists Registration Act in order to have greater accountability over who is influencing government and how?
53. When did the Attorney General and Premier first become aware that the lead RCMP inspector was the brother-in-law of Kelly Reichart, Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party?
54. How did Kelly Reichert learn that Erik Bornman had been granted immunity in exchange for providing information about David Basi and Bob Virk?
55. When did the Attorney General and Premier first become aware that information related to the investigation was leaked to Kelly Reichart and was subsequently leaked by Mr. Reichart to principals in the investigation?
56. Does the Attorney General agree that the actions of Mr. Reichart risked compromising the investigation?
57. Why does Mr. Reichart continue to serve as the Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party?
58. Given that one of the government's objectives for the BC Rail transaction was "ensuring integrated North American access to preferred markets and carriers for interline rail shipments", why would the government attempt to sell the Roberts Bank Spur line separately, following the withdrawal of CP Rail?
59. Is it true that in November 2003, Dave Basi advised OmniTRAX that the then-Minister of Finance had authorized a consolation prize for OmniTRAX in exchange for that company staying in the bidding process?
60. Was this consolation prize the BC Rail spur line?
61. How much was the consolation prize valued at?
62. Was OmniTRAX offered any Delta ALR lands for expansion of the port as part of this consolation prize?
63. If it were not for the alleged criminal actions of high-ranking aides, would the government have proceeded with the sale of the BC Rail spur line?
64. Does $900,000 represent the total cost to taxpayers of cancelling the sale of the spur line, or did the final tab come in even higher than that? What was the final tab?
65. What was the estimated value of the spur line in 2004, when the sale was put on hold?
66. What was the estimated value of the spur line when the sale was totally cancelled in February 2006?
67. What is the estimated value of the spur line now?
68. Why won't the government exercise its rights under article 10.2 of the Revitalization Agreement to inspect all of CN's maintenance records for the former BC Rail line?
69. When will the government investigate the rash of tragic derailments since 2004 in order to shed light on this safety scandal?
70. Why has the government refused to provide evidence for its claim that the government discussed safety and maintenance with the proponents during the negotiations to sell BC Rail?

Thanks to Bill Tieleman for this.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Trouble at Harmony Airways

News of Harmony's business plight comes less than four months after former B.C. finance minister Gary Collins quit the airline after two years as president and CEO.

Collins said at the time his departure did not signal trouble at Harmony and that he just wanted to explore new business opportunities. Collins becomes the new senior vice-president of Belkin Industries on April 1.

Full story at:

Monday, March 26, 2007


Robin Mathews, from Criminal Registry: "copies may be obtained in future"

The letter came to me from H.L. McBride a supreme court law officer, dated March 9, 2007. It concerned the Queen (Regina) v. Basi, Basi and Virk. With copies to the four lawyers involved, the letter recorded the matters known - that there was an "unauthorized" release of the Application of Disclosure of Feb 26, and the fact that Madam Justice Bennett was releasing it to me - a copy sent to me.

The key part of the letter to me, however, came in the last paragraph. It reads as follows:
"During the hearing, Madam Justice Bennett also indicated that she will be establishing a protocol for media and public access to documents filed in this matter. In the future, copies of further documents ordered released may be obtained from the Criminal Registry upon payment of the usual photocopying charges. If you have questions, please contact me."

I was in court on March 6 when Madam Justice Bennett made clear that she intended the matters of this case to be open and she intended documents to be available to the public unless there was clear reason why one or another document should not be available.

(First, as I pointed out to Madam Justice Bennett in a letter, documents have been consistently available from counsel even while clerks at Criminal Registry have been absolutely denying them to people who apply there to receive them. Secondly, the protocol imposed by Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm denying almost all documents to the public from Criminal Registry is a denial of the freedoms of Canadians; it is an intolerable imposition of secrecy, and very probably illegal.)

With the letter from H.L.McBride in my possession on March 26, 2007 - three weeks after Madam Justice Bennett made her decision and announced it in court and saw it reported in the newspapers - I went to the desk at Criminal Registry to request (1) a copy of the March 14 filing by the Special Prosecutor of his reply to the Application for Disclosure of Feb. 26 made by the Defence, and (2) to request a copy of the Charter Challenge filed by the Defence on March 21, and (3) the reply of Defence to the response by the Crown Special Prosecutor to the Application for Disclosure of Feb 26.

The young woman at Criminal Registry seemed pleased to tell me that she would not let me have any of the documents. She read the letter referred to in the first paragraph above. The documents, she said, had not been "ordered released". I told the young woman I knew that she couldn't give me her full name because clerks in Criminal Registry live in such great danger, but would she give me her first name. It is Danica. I simply want to record that Danica was not different than any of the other clerks there; she was equally as rude and arrogant as all the others I have dealt with in Criminal Registry.

Before leaving the Supreme Court building I asked to speak with Mary Ellen Pearce who is the Criminal Trial Coordinator. I explained the situation to her; she read the letter from H.L. McBride and made a copy of it. She was gracious, and - of course - helpless. She asked me to write down on the obverse side of her copy of the letter the specific documents I wanted, which I happily did.

Mary Ellen Pearce said at one point something to the effect "that I suppose you know documents are not usually released from Criminal Registry". I said I knew that and I hoped the ruling would be broken before too long. I felt rather as someone might have felt in 1944 going to a Nazi Gestapo office in, say, Poland, looking for a relation. Some gracious person would probably have said: "You know people who are Jews or Gypsies or homosexuals or political dissidents are sent to Buchenwald to be gassed." She would have said it graciously, no doubt, no more questioning the fact than Mary Ellen Pearce questioned the right of Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm to deny to Canadians the right to examine and to possess copies of matters placed on record in the highest British Columbia court.

In my letter to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett on March 8, I thanked her for intervening and changing the status of documents in the Basi, Basi, Virk matter. I wrote, in addition: "I look forward to and anticipate receiving service from the desk at Criminal Registry". She did not write back and say, "don't waste your time because I don't intend to release documents." And so I wasted an afternoon, one more time, attempting to get what is the right of any Canadian to get from the Supreme Court of British Columbia. And once again, I was denied.

Let us hope the whole matter is a confused heap and tangle of orders misunderstood in Criminal Registry. With the most generous interpretation put on the matter, however, it does not speak well of either the competence or the reliability of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

I will write to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett again ...


Thank you, Robin. Good Luck. A bit like a Franz Kafka novel, isn't it?
- BC Mary.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


PART V - Notice of Application for Disclosure

By Anonymous

Returning to our look at defence counsels’ Notice of Application for Disclosure, you’ll remember we left former Finance Minister Gary Collins entertaining guests at the Villa Del Lupo.

There’s nothing on record about who picked up the tab. I can imagine, since it seems more than probable that Minister Collins came to dinner that day bearing gifts, that the folks from OmniTRAX paid the freight. One thing for sure, some of the RCMP officers who were also out on the town watching and listening that night probably do know and maybe, if this trial actually goes ahead and Madame Justice Bennett places enough of the ‘secret documentation’ behind this case on the record, then even we, the public, will find out. We may even learn how big a tip the two fancy dan guys from Denver left on the table for them that night. Mind you, police ethical standards being what they are, I’m sure the cops in the waiters’ uniforms that day left the tips with the full time wait staff.

I’ll get back to the story in just a moment, but first, because the RCMP is going to play a bigger role in this episode we need to step back for just a moment and introduce, or re-introduce a ‘minor’ player and one or two others who may not be bit players at all.

First, there is RCMP Corporal Cowan. He was mentioned briefly in ¶ 16 of the defence Notice and, if you’ve been following this story in the media you might remember that he played a somewhat more important role in Gary Mason’s ‘Christmas Ode to the Accused’ in the Globe and Mail on December 23, 2006. At that time Mr. Mason made a pretty big deal about the fact that Corporal Cowan, an RCMP “commercial crime investigator’ had been assigned to monitor David Basi’s phone calls. You see, Mr. Mason wanted everybody to know that CCI Cowan had purchased a home from Mr. Basi’s mother in 1999.

In Gary Mason’s ‘Globe’ article he adds a lot of extra detail about this relationship, stuff he obviously got from David Basi himself. In fact, some of these alleged ‘facts’ played a big part in the argument Mason makes for writing that there isn’t much of a case against the ‘boys’ at all and, in fact, it’s all the cops’ fault for picking on them. Suffice to say that may have been Gary Mason’s view but it does not appear to have been the view of defence counsel. From ¶ 17 it’s clear that Corporal Cowan had advised his superior officers of the situation, although, as they put it, the timing and circumstances of this disclosure are not revealed. For the moment at least, I think we can ignore the possibility that any of this is terribly important.

The next player on the Crown’s team is much more important.

At some point before the Villa Del Lupo dinner on December 12, 2003, a certain Sergeant Debruyckere became the team leader of “Project Everywhichway” - tasked as he was to determine if any fraud or breach of trust had been committed. (¶ 49).

Now, Sergeant Debruyckere, unlike Corporal Cowan, is a much more problematic figure.

The media have been dwelling on the questionable role of the RCMP in a number of cases and there is a proposal from RCMP Staff Sergeant John Ward for a new pilot project to oversee high profile RCMP investigations in British Columbia. (Vancouver Sun March 22, 2007). As we will see, Sergeant Debruyckere and his behavior may well provide the new project with some interesting material.


Well, to start with, because, as ¶ 50 tells us, at the time Debruyckere assumed his duties as major domo of the “Project Everywhichway” team he had what one might assume was a ‘possible’ conflict of interest. That is, Sgt Debruyckere’s brother-in-law, Kelly Reichert, was the Executive Director of the B.C. Liberal Party. Further, he sat on the B.C. Liberal Party Election Campaign Team with Finance Minister Collins and was the acting Director of the B.C. Liberal Election Team (¶ 51).

Now, as did Constable Cowan, Sgt. Debruyckere advised his superiors about this potential conflict (¶ 52) and, presumably, a decision was made to leave Debruyckere in command of the project. These facts, incomplete as they are, come from material already disclosed to the defence by the Crown.

¶ 52 then moves events from December 12, 2003 forward into 2004 and, as such, seems discordant with the narrative. Even so, it contains information that requires some close analysis:
1. Sometime in 2004 a ‘leak’ of undisclosed origin revealed that Erik Bornmann had provided information about Messrs Basi and Virk to the RCMP; and
2. This ‘leak’ included the fact the Mr. Kelly Reichert was aware of the fact that “Mr. Bornmann had been granted immunity from prosecution” in exchange for information about Messrs Basi and Virk; further
3. Bornmann had also told the police that Mr. Elmhirst was also aware of this fact; and
4. Strange though it seems, Erik Bornmann had suggested that there might be an ‘Officer Reichert’ in the RCMP.

The defence, according to its submission, is suggesting that there is an indication that elements within the ‘political’ wing of the B.C. Liberal Party (as opposed to its government wing) were aware of details concerning the status and progress of this investigation at a point where that would appear to be entirely inappropriate – to say the very least. Such a knowledge would, there is a strong implication, indicate the possibility of some kind of interference with the progress and integrity of a criminal investigation.

Now, keeping this knowledge in mind, let us return to the defence narrative.

In ¶ 53 the plot thickens considerably; keeping in mind the fact that that December 12, 2003 was the same day that Sgt Debruyckere and his team were setting up for and executing a complex surveillance operation in and around the Villa Del Lupo the defence goes on to assert that, by that same day:
a) The police were in possession of evidence that tended to eliminate both Basi and Virk as suspects with respect to criminal activity in conjunction with the sale of B.C. Rail, and yet;
b) They still sought and obtained the necessary warrant(s) to search offices within the B.C. Legislature, even though;
c) The police, according to the information given to Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm, had said that Minister Collins WAS NOT a target of the investigation.

There is clearly a problem with this scenario as reported and submitted by the defence and it does not take a Sherlock Holmes to appreciate what it is.

The contradictions and inconsistencies inherent in ¶ 53 are the following:

1. Is it possible that the RCMP would mount the kind of complicated and sophisticated operation necessary to observe and record the meeting between Minister Collins and OmniTRAX executives Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson if Mr. Collins were NOT a target of the investigation?
2. Did the RCMP deceive Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm by telling him that Collins was not a suspect when, in fact, Collins was under suspicion?
3. Or, was the actual target of the RCMP investigation some other member of the Campbell Cabinet?
4. If, as the defence asserts, there was exculpatory information in the hands of the investigating team relative to the role of Basi and Virk at the time of the Villa Del Lupo surveillance operation, what and whom were the RCMP after at that time – both in terms of their warrant for the Legislature and in their efforts to follow and report on Mr. Collins’ activities and his meeting with Broe and Johnson about the “consolation prize”?

¶ 54 – ¶ 58 tell the story of the Debruyckere team’s campaign to get a warrant to search office(s) at the Legislature and introduce another new character into the play list – a Mr. David Harris – the ‘first’ Special Prosecutor in the case. In order to cover all bases, the RCMP not only applied to Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm for a warrant, they also informed the speaker of the House, Mr. Claude Richmond, and sought his authorization. Although the details and dates of these meetings are not disclosed and have not been ( according to ¶ 55) recorded or written down, we do know that as late as December 28, 2003 the warrant so issued was for the wrong office number. Upon realizing this, the team contacted Harris and was advised to disband the search planned for that day, obtain a corrected warrant, and perform the search the following day.

Despite this the Debruyckere team sought ‘other’ legal advice ( ¶ 58) and had Corporal Cowan contact Mr. Justice Dohm by telephone in order to get authorization to continue with the raid upon the correct office on December 28.

If this story seems comical and contains elements about which there are still a lot of questions to be answered, the next part in this series will have you scratching your head.

All of the questions and concerns about the behavior of the RCMP and the integrity of this case, especially as regards the possibility of political interference up to this point will become even more problematic when the next part of the defence “Notice of Application for Disclosure” is discussed here in a few days time. There have been a couple of court appearances in the case since this “Notice” was filed on Feb. 26 but, to this point, I have not yet obtained any further documentation that I can share with you.

Anonymous: This posting represents a lot of careful work generously presented here. Thank you ... from all of us, thank you. - BC Mary.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Legislature raid case to go ahead

Perhaps we should remind ourselves of the likely dates for new developments in the Basi, Virk, Basi trial. Here's what Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett said on March 8 about the timing:
Legislature raid case to go ahead, judge says

Despite defence application for disclosure, pretrial motions set to begin on April 16
The Globe and Mail - 8 March 2007

VANCOUVER -- The judge in a case that involved an unprecedented police raid on the British Columbia Legislature made it clear yesterday the trial is going ahead despite a recent defence application for disclosure that led to some media speculation proceedings might be stayed.

"The public interest in having this case heard outweighs just about everything else," Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the B.C. Supreme Court said after hearing another lengthy wrangle over the disclosure process, during which it was revealed that the defence may seek privileged cabinet documents.

Judge Bennett's statement was unprompted, but in the context of the testy legal sparring that preceded it, the comment was clearly meant to signal the oft-delayed trial is still on track for pretrial motions to begin on April 16.

She set April 2 for the next court hearing.

Full story in The Globe and Mail at:

Thursday, March 22, 2007


RCMP will investigate RCMP?

RCMP Staff Sergeant John Ward has announced a new pilot project created to oversee high profile RCMP investigations in British Columbia. Could this mean ... the B.C. Rail affair? Could it mean specifically RCMP Sgt Debruyckere's role as team leader whose job was to investigate whether any fraud or breach of trust offences were committed in relation to the sale of B.C. Rail, because Sgt Debruyckere was brother-in-law to Kelly Reichert, then-executive director of the provincial B.C. Liberal Party?

Ward said this new pilot project will run throughout B.C. for a year and, if successful, may expand across the country. He said the program has been launched by both the RCMP and Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.

Source: The Vancouver Sun, 22 March 2007.

Monday, March 19, 2007


The Raid - a Novel. By Ken Merkley

Anyone walking past Trafford Publishing in Victoria could drop in, pay $30., and have them print up a copy of Ken Merkley's book, The Raid - A Novel.

I was so eager to see the book, I paid the extra $15 to have it Priority Posted to me. After all, the cover shows the famous photo of the police carrying file boxes out of the B.C. Legislature on
28 December 2003. The cover also says "RCMP Corporal Tim Murphy uncovers inter-connected criminal activities leading him to a shocking secret with major implications for the Province of British Columbia and all of Canada." The back cover talks about a major federal political party which may have used the proceeds from drug sales to pay membership fees for thousands of new party recruits. With tragic ramifications for B.C. and Canada. Doesn't this sound like a book about The Legislature Raids?

Well, it isn't.

Not until the reader gets to Page 377, with only 2 more pages to go, does it become perfectly clear that those of us who search for the significance of the Legislature raids ... have been sucker-punched. Forget minor annoyances such as crossing "Georgia Straight" or hearing from "legal council". Forget where Tim chats up Tomm. Let's just go to where the hero (Tim, not Tomm) meets a political analyst who explains corruption, p.377. This is the nub of the story. Tim, our hero, has just arrested Mr Big and is being asked if he thought Mr Big would have got away with his evil schemes, if Tim hadn't caught him.

The analyst (Tim explains) says yes, with the political climate in B.C. "at a stage where it is feasible for someone like [Mr Big] to succeed ... where the stage has been set by many years of corrupt business-oriented governments being in power in the province and across the country. Especially in B.C., their policies have made the electorate truly cynical, apathetic, defeatist. When you combine that with a monopolistic media that supports their agenda, the voters feel that they can do nothing to change the situation and are truly open to manipulation."

RCMP Corporal Tim Murphy (believe it or not) continues: The political analyst "said you have to look at the effects of privatization and globalization ... wages and benefits have been driven down ... businesses increasingly manufacture their products offshore. Then they put in place laws that remove the right to strike for most public sector workers, destroyed the public health care system, and cut back on pensions and workers' compensation benefits. This created an atmosphere of fear amongst the working class.

"Naturally" continues our mythical hero, "you would expect them to turn to pro-labour parties to form an alternative government, but the media has hammered away at the dastardly consequences should they ever again obtain power ...

"Next you add corruption. Voters witness greedy governments and businesses working together to reward each others' friends." Legislating huge salary increases for themselves, switching parties, with punishment for blatant infractions going only to minor players or whistle-blowers. "This, in turn, causes the public to determine it is fine to take advantage of the system ... in fact, this political analyst thinks the political climate is now such that a majority of the electorate believes it is permissible to accept money for casting their votes and it's especially okay to be paid for voting for a particular party."

Not everybody feels this way, says Tim. "But enough do, that the same governments continue to be re-elected no matter how greedy and corrupt they are." [Which sounds like the story-outline for a really good book! - BC Mary]

So Tim has captured Mr Big, "the first to take advantage of this business-dominated political climate to attempt to obtain total control of the government anywhere in Canada. And if we don't learn quickly from this lesson, he won't be the last."

"But Tim," his friend asks, "you say it is the first, but wasn't there a similar episode a few years ago that started out the same with a raid on the legislature?

"Yes ... some of the circumstances were the same, including the police pinpointing a couple of cabinet ministers' aides who were accused of taking advantage of their positions to better themselves economically. But it turned out they were just a couple of two-bit players who may have been trying to benefit from the provincial sell-off of a Crown corporation by feeding insider information to one of the bidders. I don't even remember what, if anything, they were charged with, but it pales in significance to this operation."

"So," says Tim's friend, "you wouldn't put Mr Big's scheme in the same category?"

"No," says Corporal (soon to be Sergeant) Tim. [Now pay attention, folks, here's the big clue about this book ...] "Over the last 10 years matters have become a good deal worse than they were then. People are willing to play for keeps and be very brutal to get what they want when the rewards for success are so much more meaningful. After all, this is 2013."

Ken Merkley, retired senior military officer, lives near Victoria.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


The National Police Force Gone Bad


RCMP: The National Police Force Gone Bad
By Robin Mathews

Something leaps out at you.

RCMP team leader in December, 2003, "of the investigation into whether any fraud or breach of trust offences were committed in relation to [the sale of ] B.C. Rail" was Sergeant Debruyckere "brother-in-law of then-Executive Director of the B.C. Liberal Party, Kelly Reichert [who was] on the Provincial Liberal Party Election Campaign Team with [Finance] minister [Gary] Collins and acted as the Campaign Director." (pp. 6-7)

In 2004 a leak of information was recorded regarding "star" crown witness against Basi and Virk, Eric Bornmann. "Specifically, the leaked information pertained to Mr. Reichert knowing that Mr. Bornmann had been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for information against Messrs. Basi and Virk." (p.7)

This, and more, is in the Application for Disclosure of February 26, 2007, filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. by the Defence in the Basi, Basi, Virk matter of the legislature search warrant "raids" on Dec. 28, 2003 which seem - more and more - to be the tail that is wagging the dog in the dirty (perhaps criminal) sale of B.C. Rail by the Gordon Campbell government.

The implications of Liberal/RCMP connections to the legitimacy of the sale, to the role of Gordon Campbell and leading cabinet ministers, and to the focus on the three men charged may well turn out to be enormous. Ominously, the Application for Disclosure (item 62, p. 8) reports that finance minister Gary Collins may have been guilty of telling Dave Basi to inform U.S. OmniTRAX - a supposed bidder for B.C. Rail - that a "consolation prize" would be awarded if they would fake continued interest. Collins then met with OmniTRAX "Executives privately at Villa Del Luppo Restaurant" on December 12, 2003. Nonetheless, "the RCMP elected not to conduct further investigation of Minister Collins".

Before the search warrant "raids" on the legislature on December 28, "RCMP", according to the Application for Disclosure "were focused on developing a major communication and public relations strategy to be executed following the search of the Legislature". That, says the Application, involved "a massive media campaign, talk of the "cancer of organized crime", and an RCMP "media release and televised briefing on December 29 [which] drew a clear connection between Mr. Basi, Mr. Virk and organized crime." (item 59, p. 8)

We have to keep in mind that the Application for Disclosure comes from Defence which wishes to bring forward material demonstrating their clients are not guilty of crimes. The presentation to the court, however, pointing to evidence that is apparently solid must be taken seriously, for it is not in the interest of Defence counsel or of their clients to be frivolous or to appear to be misleading the court.

Perhaps to understand fully what a "major communication and public relations strategy" for the RCMP might entail we should look at a little history and experience.

What follows is information that suggests the RCMP has had highly questionable relations with the Liberal forces of Gordon Campbell, that the relations go a long way back, and that they appear to suggest the RCMP has gone bad and needs total national reconstruction from the top down. A point that has to be born in mind, of key importance, is that there is no effective RCMP oversight body in Canada. None. (The reasons for that go back to the McDonald Report in the 1980s).

The system which involves the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (the ONLY review organization) is patently ridiculous, an obvious, expensive game of smoke and mirrors. The Commission - let us say - agrees an investigation should be made. The RCMP investigates itself. The Commission may interpret the investigation. The result goes to the top levels of the RCMP for consideration. RCMP has no obligation to do anything, to mete out penalty, to censure officers, anything. It usually writes a little note back to the Commission (saying "get lost" in one way or another).

My own complaint concerned the RCMP investigation of Glen Clark, B.C. premier, charged with having accepted "favours" for influence. The RCMP alleged they had begun the investigation I asked for - the RCMP investigating the RCMP. I received a letter from an RCMP officer a few months after my complaint saying they had 28 or 29 volumes of "evidentiary material" and they were terminating the investigation. Period. I wrote in protest and heard absolutely nothing.

More than three years after I had lodged the complaint - having received not a single word for years - I received a telephone call from the second-in-command at the Commission saying they had completed their investigation and I would be receiving the report after it had been sent to the top level of the RCMP and had been finalized. It arrived with the conclusion that two experienced RCMP officers had WRONGFULLY terminated the investigation. The Commission recommended better training of officers to prevent such things happening, with which the RCMP top brass had no quarrel. And the Commission stated it would leave to the discretion of the RCMP whether they would re-open the investigation or not. The RCMP chose not to do so. For all intents and purposes there was no investigation whatever. The result is that I may fairly retain my conviction that the British Columbia RCMP worked with the Gordon Campbell forces to fake a case that could be fought against Glen Clark with the intention of destroying his political career.

The Glen Clark case arose out of the politics of the time - Liberals under Gordon Campbell, in fact, fighting to break the hold of the NDP on B.C. (More of that to come.)

A totally non-political complaint receiving the same kind of insane treatment as mine involved an ordinary citizen in the Kelowna area who believed he had very important information about the (still unsolved) Mindy Tran murder case. The RCMP refused to take his testimony, coerced him, and much more. The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP took years to do nothing whatever about his case. Find out about all that at or at

I cite the two widely different cases to show that the Commission for Public Complaints is not a genuine oversight body. Whatever it thinks it does, in fact it provides a cover for RCMP wrong-doing because it gives the public the impression that RCMP illegalities and other kinds of misbehaviour are dealt with - and they are not. As a result, the RCMP can work - legally and illegally - for political forces of its choice and face no penalty or serious review.

In B.C. - to trace a single, revealing line - we may ask if the RCMP has not only obstructed the court proceedings in regard to the Basi, Basi, Virk charges, but has it been working for Gordon Campbell Liberal interests over more than a decade? And has it been perfecting "major communications and public relations" strategies that involve what has come to be called (using RCMP phrasing) "smear and disinformation" tactics?

In the mid-nineties (with Ujjal Dosanjh in the Attorney General position), an almost insane "war" was conducted against Native people and non-Native supporters (about 30) at Gustafsen Lake. (read From Attica to Gastafsen Lake, by Splitting the Sky and Sandra Bruderer, self-published, 2001). The incident involved the RCMP, the Canadian Armed forces, and, it is alleged, wildly illegal activities on the part of "the forces of order". Of particular interest was one RCMP officer who had a significant place in the set of events.

His name is Sergeant Peter Montague. At one point he convinced CBC radio to give special emergency time to broadcast into the Gustafsen Lake community because, apparently, of an impending crisis involving threat to human life. Professor Anthony Hall, a Native Studies expert, and another researcher, concluded the supposed basis for impending crisis argued by Montague was, almost without question, a fabrication.

RCMP Media Relations officer, Montague was a very busy man throughout the operation. At one point in the set of events he was caught on an RCMP videotape - parts of which are missing - saying with a smile "Smear campaigns are our [the RCMP's] specialty" (p. 435, >From Attica to Gustafsen Lake). His words were echoed by Sergeant Dennis Ryan who admitted in court to his statement caught also on videotape that plans were to employ "smear and disinformation". Ryan admitted in court, also, that the RCMP "illegally used juvenile criminal records of some of the militants they believed to be in the camp" with the purpose of discrediting. (p. 435, From Attica to Gustafsen Lake)

At one level the Gustafsen Lake "standoff" was a huge experimental chamber for "smear and disinformation" tactics, RCMP/media collaboration, government complicity, and try-outs of illegal activity to further policy ends. I have barely touched on the astonishing story.

Ujjal Dosanjh made his way to the premiership after (as Attorney General) he had publicly reported the criminal investigation of Glen Clark who, then, resigned in the appropriate fashion. What ensued I call "the fraudulent investigation and trial of Glen Clark, premier of B.C." Dosanjh's New Democrats lost the election to Gordon Campbell (as I saw it, almost as if that was what Dosanjh wanted). Probably for the first time in Commonwealth history, a premier (Dosanjh) announced nearly a week before the election that he expected to lose it. In a short time Dosanjh was working for the Liberal Party. He became a part of Paul Martin's B.C. "dream team" and went to Ottawa to become a federal Liberal cabinet minister.

Peter Montague's transformation is equally interesting. He was twice wooed by Gordon Campbell, it is reported, to run for the B.C. Liberal Party, but refused. After Gustafsen Lake, however, he joined the branch of the B.C. RCMP that conducted the "investigation" of Glen Clark, becoming "the chief investigator in the Clark corruption case" (Globe and Mail, Oct 30 02). He was a part of the strange search warrant "raid" on Glen Clark's East Vancouver home that was marked by the presence of BCTV, filming what became in the minds of many people part of a smear campaign, part of - you might say, to quote from the February 26, 2007 Defence Application for Disclosure in the Supreme Court of B.C. - "a massive media campaign." Glen Clark (in 2002) described the BCTV event as "a carefully orchestrated strategy to maximize media exposure".

Clark's comment was made in the context of a special retirement luncheon for Peter Montague held by journalists on October 29, 2002. Robert Matas, in his Globe and Mail story the next day, wrote "The Vancouver television crew that filmed former premier Glen Clark in his kitchen during a controversial police raid gave a retirement gift yesterday to the chief investigator in the Clark corruption case.

Gary Hanney, a cameraman with BCTV, made the presentation. Senior BCTV reporter, John Daly, who was at Mr. Clark's house during the police raid on March 2, 1999, was also at the luncheon.

Both Mr. Daly and Mr. Hanney refused to explain why they presented a token gift to Staff Sergeant Montague."

Calls have been made in both cases - the Gustafsen Lake "stand-off" and the Glen Clark investigation and trial - for full-scale public inquiries. They have not been forthcoming. As a result, the RCMP feels more and more at ease in its behaviour and practice. On April 10, 2004, the Vancouver Sun reported "RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli and members of Canada's diplomatic corps win honours as big spenders of expense accounts for cabinet ministers and top civil servants". (p. A9) Fallen into disgrace over his conduct involving the RCMP and Maher Arar three years later, Zaccardelli seems to have continued his grand "lifestyle". The Globe and Mail reported in March, 2007 that the "RCMP paid a communications consultant almost $25,000 to help Guiliano Zaccardelli prepare for parliamentary hearings that ultimately led to the former commissioner's resignation." What would he have said if he hadn't the benefit of $25,000 worth of help?

We should not forget that at RCMP headquarters the very large pension trouble and misuse of money commented upon by the auditor general involved misuse of expense accounts, "rampant" nepotism in human resources, miss-sourcing of contracts for $2 million, misuse of consultants, and a case in which "an officer was promoted after working on his superior's house". (Vanc. Sun, Sept 23 07 A4). Notice that no discipline or penalty was meted out to any of the people involved. But innocent Glen Clark, we remember, was charged, investigated for months and months in full public spotlight, tried for 136 days, and ruined for a rumour that he might have thought of giving a favour to someone who worked on his house. Was that whole piece of history the result of a carefully calculated "smear and disinformation" campaign?

Does the RCMP live in a world of double standards? Is it free to commit crimes, certain it will never be penalized? Does it work increasingly for and with - legally and illegally - particular political parties on the Right? The answer to all those questions seems to be: Yes.

Careful Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin did something of a summary of RCMP lows on December 7, 2006, listing many large fiascos - but neither the Gustafsen Lake nor the Glen Clark scandals were among them, perhaps because there are too many RCMP violations of integrity to keep track of. Martin gives room for "honest mistakes". Then he adds: "But too many of the RCMP's recent activities haven't had the look of honest mistakes" (A19). Will the "B.C. legislature raids" be added to the list of large, shady (perhaps criminal) undertakings by the RCMP?

Replacement (temporary?) for the disgraced Guiliano Zaccardelli is former top B.C. RCMP officer Beverley Busson. She was a senior officer and then top officer during many of the events described here. She was top officer when a brother-in-law of a leading B.C. Liberal was "the team leader of the investigation into whether any fraud or breach of trust offences [especially, of course, among Liberals] were committed in relation to B.C. Rail". (item 49, p. 6) She was top officer during the time when - some have alleged - there has been an appearance of a concentration upon the charges against Basi, Basi, and Virk and a parallel RCMP neglect, perhaps, of investigation and (maybe) charges against senior legislature and non-legislature Liberals. She was top officer when Defence was arguing that the RCMP was not cooperating and, perhaps, was blocking evidence necessary to the conduct of the trial presided over by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

And so we come back to the Supreme Court of B.C. where the Basi, Basi, and Virk trial is imminent, though motions to stay proceedings and/or to call them invalid in the light of Charter violations must still be heard. Bets are still being taken on the likelihood of the trial going ahead. Madam Justice Bennett has said all documents not universally bearing a publication ban will be available to the public. The public's high interest in the case, she declares, must be served. That is reassuring, but it is relatively easy to say.

Much, much more difficult to say is how plain and direct have been the laying of charges and the pursuit of justice in the matter. Could the case against the three men charged have been purposefully fudged (a) to take attention away from the real malefactors? (b) Could it have been purposefully fudged in such a way as to be destroyed by a Charter challenge, declaring violations of the men's fundamental rights in a search for evidence? (c) Could it all be smoke and mirrors prepared by the Gordon Campbell forces and the RCMP working together? And could we all wake up some morning soon to be told the trial has been stayed, no charges exist, and no one will be found guilty of anything? And, in fact, might we be told that the Crown has decided the waters have been so muddied the best thing to do is to turn completely away from the whole matter And Get On With Building British Columbia?

Have the RCMP and the Gordon Campbell Liberals (and the Crown?) worked successfully together in the past to prevent justice from being done, or worse, to engage in acts of injustice (called "crimes")? If so, what is to stop them from being as successful in the present?


Friday, March 16, 2007


NAFTA-NASCO SuperHighway right through B.C.

NAFTA SuperHighway to Super Natural BC

What does the Super Highway as proposed to run from southern Mexico through the United States to northwestern British Columbia, Canada have to do with the sale of BC Rail? BC Rail is the end of the line, the culmination of the Master Plan where the last pieces of the jigsaw fall into place!

The proposed "Super Highway" will be a 10-lane highway. Can you imagine how much arable land that will gobble up! The super highway location also has extensive trackage in the central United States along the Mississippi River valley from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

Proposed Super Highway

Overlay the proposed 10-lane highway with the Rail lines as pictured below:

CN Network

BC Ports Strategy – BC Government quote:

“Canada’s prosperity depends upon its success in world trade. British Columbia’s ports make this trade possible. They handle half of Canada’s maritime exports and 85% of the western provinces marine exports from grain, coal and forest products to petroleum and petrochemicals.”

Existing west coast port facilities are severely limited in their ability to expand. The current congestion on southern highway and rail lines is economically impacting delivery times and cost. The new Port of Prince Rupert will be focused solely on the movement of containers, grain and coal.

There are three deep-sea port locations in British Columbia connected to the continental highway and rail grid: the lower mainland, Prince Rupert and Kitimat.

Today Kitimat has three privately owned terminals used strictly for the owners' specific operations but, uniquely in the province, there is foreshore land in Kitimat that has been identified as available and developable for a deep water break bulk facility.

Advantages of Kitimat

A new break bulk port facility in Kitimat would have some decided advantages:
• Foreshore land available for development
• Significant distance and time advantages for Asian routings
• Complements the container port in Prince Rupert
• Significant shorter transport distance for export cargoes originating from much of
northern and central British Columbia and possibly from northern Alberta
• More efficient, cost-effective shipping for forest products out of northern B.C.
• Calm sea conditions
• Three vacant sites suitable for backup cargo assembly
• An existing rail line to Kitimat

Raw log exports, dirty coal from B.C. and gas from the tar sands of Alberta all shipped out through the calm seas of the Inside Passage. How convenient to have a trade agreement called TILMA! And, when the government statement says that “more efficient, cost-effective shipping” will be the result, it does not mean for the province, it means for business. After all, Campbell has and is seeing to it that all assets once held by the people of this province are being sold off and not always to the highest bidder.

When Campbell sold BC Rail, he didn’t make money for the province. BC Rail sold at bargain basement prices, all to the advantage and “cost-effectiveness” of business. It was a set-up for the benefit of business.

BC Rail was a class II regional railway and the third largest in Canada, operating 2,320 km (1,441 miles) of mainline track. BC Rail was owned by the provincial government from 1918 until 2004, when it was sold to Canadian National Railway and now operates under the reporting marks of the Association of American Railways.

Combined with the indignity of practically giving away the valuable asset of BC Rail, tankers are plying the waters off the northern coastline of BC...where they shouldn't fact they are breaking environmental laws and a decades-long moratorium on transporting dangerous chemicals and gaseous cargo within the Inside Passage.

Quoting from the Backgrounder on Threats from Tankers in BC’s Inside Passage:

“1. Methanex, in partnership with Alberta-based Encana, is currently importing condensate, a natural gas byproduct used to dilute thick crude oil, in oil tankers to Kitimat where the dilutant is being offloaded onto railway cars for transport to Alberta. The condensate, a toxic mix of chemicals and petroleum derivates needed to ease the flow of oil through pipelines, is being imported from Belize and other places in South America as well as Asia. The condensate tankers are very large (50,000 dwt) and carry approximately 350,000 barrels of condensate.

2. Alberta-based energy giant Enbridge is seeking approval of a $4 billion project that would bring oil tankers into BC’s inside passage to ship 800,000 to 1,000,000 barrels per day of exported tar sands crude oil from a pipeline originating in Alberta to destinations in China, India and California. Three to ten tankers per week would travel 100 kilometers through the inside passage and coastal waters, another 140 kilometers up a fjord to transport crude from an oil tanker terminal in Kitimat, BC.

3. Both Enbridge and Kinder Morgan are seeking approval for competing pipelines that would transport 150,000 and 100,000 barrels per day each in imported “condensate” off tankers in Kitimat into a 1,200 km long pipeline bound for Alberta. Both these proposals are currently seeking regulatory approval.

4. Kitimat LNG has received a provincial environmental assessment certificate for a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Kitimat. LNG is a very cold liquid natural gas approximately -260° F), containing mostly methane, but typically including other “hot” or “wild” hydrocarbons such as ethane and propane, and other toxic contaminants. Proposed LNG terminals are facing stiff opposition from communities across North America, with communities as diverse as Quebec City, Passamaquoddy Bay on the border of Maine and Nova Scotia, Malibu, Homboldt, Vallejo, Long Beach and Oxnard in California, Boston and Fall River in Massachusetts opposing LNG projects for environmental, security and health reasons.

5. Recently Pembina announced the $700 million Condensate Pipeline Project which if approved would transport 100,000 barrels a day of condensate from Kitimat to Summit Lake north of Prince George. From there Pembina will reverse the flow of existing pipeline currently carrying crude to ship condensate to the tar sands. Industry considers a 15% recovery of an oil spill a success; even in perfect conditions. A full recovery has never been achieved. Given that weather on the BC coast can be quite extreme with winds at over 25 knots in winter and waves reaching three stories in height- any spill in this region would have devastating environmental and economic consequences.

Tankers in the Inside Passage, coal mining in Northern BC, Alberta to look like a moonscape in no time flat with her rivers being poisoned and rumors of the Athabasca running out of water as industry gobbles up 5 gallons of water to make one gallon of gas. And, as if there isn’t enough polluting of the planet I heard on CBC radio yesterday that China is planning on building 2,500 coal-fired plants with BC helping out, no doubt, through the exporting of coal. Sheer madness.

Now we know, don't we, why the corporate media has been so quiet. There's money to be made.

What part did we, the long-suffering, tax-paying citizens play in the sale of BC Rail. Anyone remember? The short answer is nothing. We weren’t consulted, neither were we asked. The Liberal gods dictated and so shall it be.

In the meantime a seismic shift has occurred with the world recognizing both peak oil and global warming while Campbell dreams of his Gateway Project to Asia. Does he care? No, not Campbell. Not the BC Liberals. Not the coal mining companies. Not the companies operating in the tar sands. Not CN Rail. Not China. None of them care. Not while the inmates are running the asylum.

By Rita Dawson, Ladysmith B.C.
Much later, on 22 June 2007, this Vancouver Sun item:


Friday, June 22, 2007

A railway linking Alaska to the rest of North America would create wider benefits even if freight revenue did not cover the projected $10.5-billion US construction cost, according to a new study.

Building a more than 3,300-kilometre line between existing railways in Alaska and Canada would spur mining development and open a new trade route to Asia, according to the report released this week by governments of the Yukon and the neighbouring state of Alaska.

The study suggests the rail link would likely have to be funded as a joint public-private project [Oh, what a surprise!! - BC Mary], because projected freight shipping revenues over 50 years would cover only about 75 per cent of the full $10.5-billion investment.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007


B.C. Rail was part of the continental plan for North American Union

While Gordon Campbell was promising in 2001 that his government, if elected, would never sell British Columbia Railway, plans for the North American Union based upon the NAFTA-NASCO SuperCorridor were under way. One glance at this map will explain why our railway proved irresistible to the empire-builders (elected and unelected). Many thanks to Salt Spring News, an excellent online news site, for the excerpts and map. And thanks to kootcoot for his skillful transfer of it to this site. - BC Mary.

Related: Canadian National Railway
Matt Van Hattem
TRAINS Magazine Wisconsin USA
June 1, 2006

Canadian National Railway Company serves Canada and the central United States over a network of 19,200 route miles. A true transcontinental railroad, its lines stretch from Halifax, Nova Scotia on the Atlantic Coast to Vancouver and Prince Rupert, British Columbia on the Pacific Coast, and north to Prince George, and beyond (see map) and also extend south to reach the Gulf of Mexico at New Orleans and Mobile, Ala. In between, its tracks serve the cities of Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, St. Louis, Memphis, and Pittsburgh. ...

Canadian National merger family tree
TRAINS Magazine Wisconsin USA June 2, 2006

A genealogy of the well-known railroads that make up today's CN.

Endnotes: In our musings, we are coming to see the giveaway of BC Rail as perhaps part of the North American Union project, just as the Campbell coalition's energy policies are a part of that corporatist hidden-in-plain-view project.

Over the period 1986-2006, the overall funding for the four-thousand-mile NAFTA-NASCO SuperCorridor--running through the heart of the United States from Mexico to Canada--has two financial components, one private, one public.

One Big Railroad System

The NASCO Corridor encompasses US Interstate Highways 35, 29 and 94, and the significant east/west connectors to those highways in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The Corridor directly impacts the continental trade flow of North America. Membership includes public and private sector entities along the Corridor in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

The B.C. Rail story is crying out for a Public Inquiry but only if it guarantees a final, full report to the people of B.C. - BC Mary.


Monday, March 12, 2007


Beware the Ides of March. Bill 6 passed third reading today March 15, 4:40 PM


Bill 6, Public Inquiry Act, reported complete without amendment, read a third time ... and passed 4:40PM Thursday 15 March 2007. The vote was 36 to 21. Notably missing: Premier Gordon Campbell, Opposition Leader Carole James.

"Without public discussion" ... "with no debate in the Legislature" ... and now Bill 6 to legalize suppression of Public Inquiry findings ... these things seem to be part of a procedure for allowing the loss of huge public assets. For an exceptionally informative video describing the loss of another huge public asset, please (you'll be glad you did) click onto:

The Public Inquiry Act, Bill 6 nick-named the Secret Inquiry Act by the Opposition, came back before the current session of the B.C. Legislature after being shelved by the B.C. Liberal Government last spring.

Leonard Krog, the NDP Opposition justice critic, said the bill strikes at the right of British Columbians to know precisely what their government is doing.

Bill 6, if allowed to pass into law, would see reports from public inquiries be delivered to a minister, rather than to the Legislature. As it stands now, Cabinet would have the ability to withhold part or all of the inquiry's report.

"The Opposition has been calling for a public inquiry into the sale of B.C. Rail because of questions around the sale process and about the new owner's spotty safety record," Krog said.

"The B.C. Liberals want to have the power to decide what happens to the results of such an inquiry. This bill would allow them to keep the report secret."

[I've kept my promise that this blog would be non-partisan. Bill 6, in my opinion, crosses party lines and affects us all. Public accountability is an essential part of a Public Inquiry ... or why have one?

Let's persuade our M.L.A.s to kill Bill 6 in its present form, then to make the Public Inquiry Act fully accountable to the Legislature and to the public.

And let's hope that -- whatever the outcome of the trial of Basi, Virk, Basi -- there's a Public Inquiry followed by published findings telling us exactly what happened to B.C. Rail. - BC Mary.]

Special thanks to "dl" for sending in this news.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Vaughn Palmer 'n' Bill 'n' BC Mary

He's 4 days late. Bill Tieleman and Robin Mathews scooped him on Wednesday, 7 March. But here he is: Vaughn Palmer -- Voice of B.C. -- speaking up on behalf of the public interest in the B.C. Rail Trial. And that's a good thing. Palmer doesn't explain why CanWest said nothing about the dramatic 90 minutes in B.C. Supreme Court on the day of the hearing; but he did mention two of the alternate news sources which have followed the case: Bill and [blush] BC Mary. Yep. You saw it in Vancouver Sun, a CanWest newspaper, as follows:

Coming soon, some answers about the 2003 raid on the legislature
Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun
Saturday, March 10, 2007

VICTORIA - For everyone still wondering about that police raid at the legislature three years ago, there was encouraging news in a Vancouver courtroom this week.

"The public interest in having this case heard outweighs just about everything else," declared Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the B.C. Supreme Court.

She spoke her mind at the latest procedural hearing in the seemingly interminable pretrial phase of the much-delayed case.

It was taken as a sign that the judge has reached the end of her patience with the legal wrangling and means for the case to go to trial, as scheduled, next month.

She surely spoke for many British Columbians, who've been subjected to endless speculation and doubts since police first descended on the provincial parliament at the end of December 2003.

The judge appeared to be taking the side of the public a second time during her comments at Wednesday's hearing.

"These proceedings have to be as open as possible," she said. "We will have a system in place for proper access to documents."

Meaning proper access by the public and the news media, as reporter Mark Hume noted in his account of the hearing, published in the Globe and Mail newspaper Thursday.

The case has generated considerable interest and much speculation in both conventional news media and the online variety. Check out Bill Tieleman's latest piece on the Tyee website. Or Google "BC Mary."

But members of the public are also following the case on their own, or trying to do so. Justice Bennett disclosed in court that she was in receipt of a complaint from someone [Robin Mathews - Mary] who'd been denied access to a document that had been circulated in the news media.

The judge's attitude may not have been improved by the fact that the document -- an application from the defence for more disclosure of information -- had fallen into the hands of the news media before she'd seen it as well.

Perhaps that helped reinforce her determination to get on with the public airing of the case.

The next procedural hearing is set for April 2 and the trial date is April 16.

Proceedings will likely commence with a week or two of legal arguments over the admissibility of evidence gathered through wiretaps and a series of search warrants.

Depending on what survives that winnowing, the public should begin getting answers to questions that have been posed and reposed for more than three years.

There was the sheer spectacle of the raid, followed by the bald declaration from police that it was connected to organized crime and the drug trade.

Then came the revelations of connections to key players in the provincial and federal Liberal parties.

Another shocker was the news that the raid was somehow connected to the sale of BC Rail, the government-owned railway, to CN Rail.

Then the allegation that, to preserve a viable bidding process for the BCR, the B.C. Liberals had dangled some sort of inducement to the second-place finisher. Supposedly, the consolation prize was the inside track on acquiring a second railway, the BCR spur line to the Roberts Bank superport.

Now, this is the point where the reader should be advised that much of this is speculative and none of it has been proven in court.

Note, too, that several of the presumed "bombshells" in this case were duds. The drug charges led nowhere. Most of the names mentioned in connection with the case were neither charged nor accused of wrongdoing.

Still, there's more than enough to warrant a full airing in open court, which is why Bennett's comment this week was so refreshing.

Without presuming to read her mind, I would note that she's been here before.

For she was also the judge in the Glen Clark case, which had similar elements. The charge of breach of trust. A political dimension. Complaints that the charge was overblown and unwarranted.

Bennett skilfully navigated those thickets in a written judgment in 2002.

Here's what she had to say about whether the case should have been aired in open court:

"Our free and democratic society requires such allegations to be investigated and a prosecution undertaken if there is evidence which meets the threshold required for charges to be laid. Anything less would bring the system of justice in disrepute."

Nevertheless, she acquitted Clark. He was guilty of "poor judgment . . . . However, there is nothing in his conduct that crosses the line from an act of folly to behaviour calling for criminal sanction."

Don't take this as a comment on the merits or possible outcomes of the case arising out of the raid on the legislature.

Rather, I wanted to record that Bennett's masterful handling of an earlier, no less politically charged case, suggests this one is in good hands as well.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


CanWest? YooHoo? Ya there, CanWest?

Has anyone seen any mention today in either of CanWest's 3 big B.C. daily newspapers concerning the events which occupied 90 dramatic minutes in B.C. Supreme Court Room #73 yesterday? Anything at all?

Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, presiding at a pre-trial conference on 7 March 2007, said significantly: "The public interest in having this case heard outweighs just about everything else."

She also said, following discussion among the judge and counsel, that - apparently because of the public interest in this B.C. Rail trial - all documents not under publishing ban will be available upon request from Criminal Registry (perhaps for a slight fee). Madam Justice Bennett graciously opened up scrutiny of documents concerning this trial ... remarking that there is a presumption in the law of public access. CanWest, please note.

And didn't we, on this web-site, receive the assurance of the Editor-in-Chief of the Victoria Times Colonist that "if there is news, [they] plan to publish it" ... ?

Well ... we've got news for CanWest. The B.C. Rail case is inching toward trial. It's a trial which will shake the very foundations of our province. CanWest: this is news. Big news.

- BC Mary.



"Public interest in having this case heard, outweighs ... everything else," says Judge

Legislature raid case to go ahead, judge says

Despite defence application for disclosure, pretrial motions set to begin on April 16
The Globe and Mail - 8 March 2007

VANCOUVER -- The judge in a case that involved an unprecedented police raid on the British Columbia Legislature made it clear yesterday the trial is going ahead despite a recent defence application for disclosure that led to some media speculation proceedings might be stayed.

"The public interest in having this case heard outweighs just about everything else," Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the B.C. Supreme Court said after hearing another lengthy wrangle over the disclosure process, during which it was revealed that the defence may seek privileged cabinet documents.

Judge Bennett's statement was unprompted, but in the context of the testy legal sparring that preceded it, the comment was clearly meant to signal the oft-delayed trial is still on track for pretrial motions to begin on April 16.

She set April 2 for the next court hearing. {snip}

The judge, who has often said she scrupulously avoids news coverage of the case, said she was surprised to pick up The Globe in Montreal and find a story about materials that had not yet been set before her.

Special Crown prosecutor William Berardino, Dave Basi's lawyer, Michael Bolton, and Aneal Basi's lawyer, Joseph Doyle, all told court they hadn't leaked the material.

"I can't assist," said Kevin McCullough, the lawyer for Mr. Virk.

Judge Bennett said she raised the matter because a member of the public* had written a letter of complaint saying he had sought, and been refused, a copy of the application from the court registry.

"These proceedings have to be as open as possible," she said. "We will have a system in place for proper access to documents [by the media and public]." {snip}

In the latest application, the defence describes the disclosure process as "materially flawed," and asks the court to issue 19 separate orders to force the release of specific documents.

That application, which contains unproven allegations, led to some media speculation that the Crown's case was in trouble.

But Mr. Berardino appeared not to think so, as he told the court he would be drafting a letter within 48 hours, disputing numerous allegations in the disclosure.

He said the defence would have to respond to that letter by providing documents to back up its claims. {snip} "He's got to do it in writing," Judge Bennett agreed.

* That "member of the public" is Robin Mathews whose watchful presence in court has not only represented the public but, I believe, has helped to raise the court's awareness of the public interest in the B.C. Rail case. Robin deserves great credit for his efforts in this. - BC Mary.

Full story:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Robin Mathews from B.C. Supreme Court

Dear Mary. There follows a brief "on the spot" report.

In courtroom 73 of the Supreme Court of B.C., March 7, 2007, people gathered concerned with the up-coming (?) trial of Basi, Basi, and Virk in the aftermath charges of the Dec. 28, 2003 search warrant "raids" on B.C. legislature offices, and they were joined at 9:42 a.m. by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett. The hearing was to be a half hour in length but ran into a full hour and a half.

Important things were said.

Eleven or twelve people populated the courtroom itself and eight or nine sat in the gallery. A high North window on the seventh floor room of the courthouse looked at and through a part of the huge glass roof sloping away out to the city of Vancouver.

Madam Justice Bennett referred, in opening, to two matters of document release. The first, I gather, was that the Globe and Mail appeared to have the Jan. 26 Application for Disclosure (covered on this blog) before Madam Justice Bennett did. Some kind of a leak it would seem. Surprise. In addition, a "member of the public" complained to the Justice about the fact that when major media were reporting upon and quoting from the Application, that person asked Criminal Registry for a copy and was bluntly refused. She passed the letter to counsel. Discussion followed among the judge and counsel, with the outcome that - apparently because of the public interest in this trial - all documents not under publishing ban will be available upon request from Criminal Registry (perhaps for a slight fee). Madam Justice Bennett graciously opened up scrutiny of documents concerning this trial. She remarked that there is a presumption in the law of public access.

But the repressive "protocol" imposed by Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm denying access generally to documents that are public documents in criminal trials is not lifted, and it must be lifted.

A great part of the hearing was devoted to the unfolding dates of steps leading to and concerned with the case. When should materials be filed; when should applications be made; when should they be responded to.... To cut a tangle of wrangling short, to this observer William Berardino, Special Crown Prosecutor, was asking in most circumstances for more time than Defence believed necessary. Was he trying to dislodge the April 2 starting date for the trial? I don't know. But, over dates, Defence and Prosecution tested the limits of courtesy.

In brief, Michael Bolton for Defence said it wanted to know, in short, what was the Crown's "theory of the case". And the Defence, further, pointed out that disclosure material was coming in as late as March 5 - of documents not before disclosed.

In short, it appears that Defence will file an Application on Charter issues (declaring, it seems, that the rights of the accused having been violated, charges are invalid) but that it cannot reasonably do so until it has under its hand materials that are still being disclosed. As late as March 5, documents of importance were disclosed for the first time.

Attempting to get to the core of the wrangling before Madam Justice Bennett, Defence counsel Kevin Mc Cullough declared that they were facing a major disclosure problem - one which, by the way, has dogged the process. How can a Charter Application be made until material is present and studied by Defence counsel? William Berardino rejoined (when Defence sought to speed up relations) that Prosecution needs a record of what is declared to be in dispute, not a telephone conversation about it.

In a few moments of almost digression, George Copley and Valerie Anderson, apparently representing the Province, appeared. Their appearance concerned documents reviewed, or privileged and declared irrelevant and documents apparently involving client privilege (as I understood their interventions). McCullough, for the Defence, intervened and said all the documents were the responsibility of the Special Prosecutor, that he was claiming "standing" in the court for Copley who, in effect, has no standing, and the documents should simply be disclosed. The Court appeared to agree with the burden of the statement by Defence.

Another hearing date is not impossible if filing dates get fouled. Otherwise, the case, it appears, will begin at 9:00 a.m. on April 2. Considering the last column I wrote for which was posted on this blog, I must admit I will be surprised if the case begins on that date. But one more surprise in this unnecessarily convoluted case would not be surprising.
Again, Robin, thanks for your report. Thanks, too, for your valiant efforts to obtain documents for the public. Much appreciated. - BC Mary.