Sunday, March 25, 2007
PART V - Notice of Application for Disclosure
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.
Now my thoughts are "why?" Was it to leave the door open to stay the trial in case the defence couldn't get the accused off on the time element. Due Process. There are just too many variables here to have me beleive that this trial will ever go forward enough to convict or aquit.
Why did Collins and Clark not run in the last election? We have since seen that they are in conflict. Why has the premier been strangely silent since this investigation has progressed? I don't even see him in the house when questions arise from this matter. Why can RCMP investigators purported to be among the best in the world "they always get their man" bungle a search warrant and tell a Justice they are not investigating certain people, when they are? And finally, why is the mainstream media so quiet on this matter.
I am willing to bet here that if this trial doesn't go forward the headlines will be splashed across the front page of each and every one of them.
Thanks again Mary for keeping this alive. Gary
I just wish we could see the Crown's response to this Feb. 26 Application for Disclosure ... which was supposed to have been filed in Supreme Court on 14 March. Haven't heard or seen a thing about that. Or the 21st filing either (defence filing of Charter challenge).
As for Part V posted here today, it has more factual drama than many a detective yarn. We owe big thanks to our Anony-Mouse ... and to readers like you.
But gosh, if you're correct, Gary -- we really need a Public Inquiry into the B.C. Rail affair ... and we need it WITHOUT Bill 6 by which it could be kept secret by the B.C. Cabinet.
My own beleif is that this crap that is going on in the background such as bill 6 is unconstitutional not just unfair. Our Bill of rightd is enshrined in the constitution and I will study that. But you can mark my words I will consult my lawyer to find the best constitutional lawyer in the country to challenge this crap. And anything else that I feel is wrong. As I see it only the supreme court can sort it out. I'm not a lawyer but I do know what is right or wrong. And the provincial Bill 6 is just as wrong as the Federal Bill 257 on scab labour.
I'm sure many others have said the same thing. But on this blog it was I who said that Bill 6 surely requires a Constitutional Challenge, as I can't fathom a democratic society in which it's OK to hold a Public Inquiry, it's OK for the public pay the cost of a Public Inquiry, but the public can be barred from ever hearing the findings of a PUBLIC Inquiry.
I mean, it's self-evident that there's no point in having a PUBLIC Inquiry, under Bill 6.
Blessings upon you, if you know a way in which B.C. can rescind that evil law.
Also for the rest of you and for the record I erred in my statement on Bill 257. I have no idea where my head was this morning but Bill257 did pass. There were nine B.C MP's who voted against it. Sorry
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (ref. Canadian Constitution Act, Schedule B, Part I):
Section 52: This section provides that the constitution of Canada is the supreme law of Canada, and that any law inconsistent with it is of no force or effect.
Scope and application of the Charter:
Section 32: According to section 32, the Charter applies to federal, provincial, and territorial legislatures and governments. Thus, the Charter protects individuals from violations of their human rights and fundamental freedoms by government.
So, the way I see it: under B.C.'s new Bill 6, we could have an election. The people could pay for the election. And it would be OK for the B.C. Cabinet to keep the results of that election a secret.
Is that far-fetched? How is it different from deciding to have a public inquiry, paying for a public inquiry, then having the B.C. Cabinet keep the findings secret?
Those are two public events concerning matters of public interest. They are very much alike, if you ask me. And the the people are entitled to know the results of any election or any Public Inquiry held in the Province of British Columbia.
What say you?
Somebody wrote to me privately saying they'd like to contribute financially to your efforts to launch a Charter challenge on Bill 6.
I'm sure you'll appreciate the thought.
What should I tell this person?
Please let me know at: email@example.com
- BC Mary
Don't know if you've looked at the Star today - I know it's hard to find for you BC folks out there in the hinterland.
But Tom Walkom has an interesting column about the reluctance of governments to mess with the horsemen.
Have a look if you haven't seen it yet.
He even includes these words:
But there is a far more fundamental question. Why are Canadian governments so nervous about the RCMP?
We do know that the Mounties can cause sitting governments problems. The RCMP's announcement in the middle of the 2005-2006 election campaign that it was conducting an investigation into the office of then Liberal finance minister Ralph Goodale may well have cost the Liberals the election.
A 1999 RCMP investigation, into allegations that then British Columbia premier Glen Clark had received a bribe, ended Clark's career and assured that his already struggling NDP government would be defeated in the next provincial election.
Eventually, both Goodale and Clark were cleared of any wrongdoing. By then, the damage had been long done.
Day has ordered an investigation into the RCMP pension matter. Its findings will almost certainly be of interest. More interesting, however, would be an investigation of the government's role in all of this.
Why has it taken Stockwell Day so long to bring the RCMP brass under control? Why didn't his Liberal predecessors do anything? Is there something going on that the rest of us should know about?
DON'T YOU KIND OF WISH HE'D MENTIONED THE BCRAIL MOUNTIES AS WELL?
I wonder if someone should remind him of the clouds over Sergeant Debruyckere's head?