Saturday, April 07, 2007
Yesterday, on Good Friday, Vancouver Sun had two articles about the Basi, Virk, B.C. Rail trial. Today, another one. This is very unusual. Usually weeks and months go by without a mention of this important trial. So is this like when an earthquake or a thunderstorm is about to erupt -- and the birds and animals become agitated? Is CanWest agitated because they know -- and we don't -- that the Basi, Virk trial actually is going to begin on 16 April? - BC Mary.
Liberals can thank 'Spiderman' for exposure
A party apparatchik is at the heart of the high-profile BC Rail scandal
Ian Mulgrew - Vancouver Sun
Saturday, April 07, 2007
They were the acolytes of former federal environment minister David Anderson, the advance guard for ex-prime minister Paul Martin, and remain the advance guard in the Liberal party establishment.
Now the political ties, the family connections, the web of private, business and ideological relationships will be teased apart as a result of the influence-peddling trial precipitated by the unprecedented 2003 raid on the B.C. legislature.
Aptly, they can thank one of their own -- a man whose youthful hijinks earned him the nickname Spiderman.
Erik Bornmann, a 30-year-old would-be lawyer and longtime Liberal party apparatchik, will be the star witness.
Born May 20, 1976, in Vancouver, Bornmann initially gained notoriety for his antics during the Paul Martin-Jean Chretien leadership fight and the trashing of a Victoria hotel room at the 1999 Young Liberals convention.
He was dubbed Spiderman back in those days for reputedly climbing through ceiling panels trying to obtain a party membership list from a locked office.
Now Bornmann is at the heart of the BC Rail scandal and the breach-of-trust charges facing fired bureaucrats Dave Basi, right-hand of former finance minister Gary Collins, and Bob Virk, aide to former transport minister Judith Reid.
The presence of Bornmann, who changed the spelling of his last name from "Bornman" after the scandal broke and and now lives in Toronto, has drawn attention to the tight connections and cosy relationships among the political party, lobbyists, senior civil servants and politicians involved in this deal.
This case pulls back the curtain on Liberal party friendships and loyalties that stretch back more than a decade and whose hub was the office of Anderson -- a former provincial Liberal party leader and for years the federal party's West Coast patronage godfather.
Most of the people touched by the police investigation worked at one time or another for Anderson and the federal party.
They also supported Gordon Campbell and toiled to elect him premier.
Bornmann is a protege of Mark Marissen, federal Liberal power-broker and husband of former B.C. cabinet minister Christie Clark [sic].
Marissen ran Anderson's Vancouver office but spent most of his time marshalling Bornmann and the party's youth wing to ensure Martin's ascendancy.
His brother-in-law, Bruce Clark, Christy's brother, was chief fundraiser in the province for Martin.
During the leadership campaign, Bornmann served as director of operations in B.C.
Bornmann's younger brother, Roy, also worked for Anderson and is a former regional director of the party.
Virk and Basi, who were associates of Marissen's, organized ridings during the leadership bid, sold party memberships and provided a roving gang of logistical muscle dubbed "Basi's Boys."
Regardless, it was not Bornmann's Liberal politicking that will be the issue at the trial -- that is merely the backdrop. It was his role as a lobbyist with the Pilothouse Public Affairs consulting firm that brings him to centre stage in these proceedings.
Graduated from University of B.C. law school in May 2005 after earning a BA at the University of Victoria, Bornmann joined former Province columnist Brian Kieran, who is also expected to testify, and Jamie Elmhirst, another Liberal party insider, at Pilothouse.
Bornmann, who has remained tight-lipped since the charges were laid three years ago, was the registered lobbyist for OmniTRAX, an American firm bidding against CN Rail and CP Rail for BC Rail assets. Court documents say Bornmann paid almost $30,000 to Virk and Basi in an effort to influence the privatization process.
At the same time as investigators were rummaging through parliamentary offices in Dec. 2003, police were searching Bornmann's West End apartment.
They found and seized cheque stubs and financial records that appear to show payments intended for Basi and Virk.
A few months later, in March 2004, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon cancelled the sale of the rail line's ferry terminal at Roberts Bank because the RCMP said the process was tainted -- confidential government information had seemingly fallen into the wrong hands.
Police as well suggest that on top of cash, football tickets and other perks, Bornmann promised Basi and Virk jobs in Ottawa that he could arrange through his federal Liberal connections.
Ever since then, from Wikipedia to the world of blogs, Bornmann has become the mainstay of Internet gossip and media speculation around the case given his pivotal role and his connections.
After moving to Toronto, he has tried to launch a legal career. It is stalled because of this trial.
You can check out his website (www.bornmanngallery.com/bio.html) and learn he likes photography, wine and gourmet grub.
Bornmann articled at the powerful Toronto firm of McCarthy Tetrault, but he has not yet been approved to practise by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
His former firm, Pilothouse, now calls itself K&E Public Affairs.
Click on this link for the full story:
Just wondering if you've discovered anything more about the Charter challenges which might be possible in the Basi Virk Basi case?
I'd also like to know if anybody has seen the $$-figure (if any) attached to the deal between B.C. Rail and Kinder Morgan. Anybody?
As a side note I will be in Vancouver tomorrow and until at least the 17th. You can bet I will be in the courthouse regarding the trial any time I can make it.
Gary, this is very good news that you'll be in Vancouver for a few days and that you'll try to be in Supreme Court sometimes.
Tuesday April 10 is a big possibility ... that's the date designated for the re-scheduling of the previous cancelled hearing. Maybe it's just the lawyers filing things ... you never know! But even that is interesting.
If you just click onto the Court Listings in the left column of this TLR blog, you may be lucky enough to see confirmation of the date and purpose of the day's trials or hearings.
New data is only posted in the early morning of the very day, however, so nobody gets to decide the night before, whether to wear their blue pinstripe or their bluejeans into Supreme Court.
Actually, you're pretty well in Supreme Courthouse before you know if the hearing is actually ON ... and even then it might disappear before you reach the designated courtroom.
I'm not making this up Gary. If I made this stuff up, it'd be a helluva lot more clear I promise you.
A lot of us are hoping to hear from you next week!
I was 20 when he asked me to support him in his nomination for the Victoria riding in 1991 since I had replaced him on the WUSC Board of Directors.
But I knew he came from a missionary family in 1940s gangland Shanghai. Why would I want anything to do with someone who had been accustomed to living with organized crime?
He gets the rats, morons, liars, cheats and criminals that he deserves. He's been a terrible source of corruption in our society.
He could stand to take a few lessons from Marc Perreault (son of the BC senator) about what an decent person is.
I have been concerned about the lack of attention this case has in the Canwest Global Corporation. But I am starting to realize that maybe Brian Kieran, the former Vancouver Province reporter has had something to do with this cover up.
Perhaps there is a brotherhood amongst the reporters who know Brian Kieran and have pledged to try and cover this case up. I do recall from the Publiceyeonline website that he hosts an annual golf tournament on his Pender Island home.
Something to add to the mystery surrounding the raid on the legislature.
But wait a minute ... isn't it Jamie Elmhirst who has a place on Pender? Problem. Good story though.
There's an excellent updated review of the Charter of Right under the headline: The Charter's Challenges by Tracey Tyler, Legal Affairs Reporter for Toronto Star at:
"The document is widely lauded but recent federal funding cuts have made challenges even more difficult to mount ... a decision last fall by the Cnservative government to kill the Court Challenges Program ... have made the Charter more inaccessible than ever ..."
It's a lengthy article filled with solid information, most of it leaving the impression that our Charter of Rights as a beautiful dream beyond the reach of almost everybody.
So it looks to me as if we'd do better to concentrate upon a Public Inquiry.
Wait until there is something to report and the "big 3" will be there.
"So it looks to me as if we'd do better to concentrate upon a Public Inquiry."
Didn't they just ram through a law so that Public Inquiries don't have to be shared with the Public anymore? Those uppity citizens got no bizness knowing nuthin' about nuthin'!
First we get the inquiry, see?
Then we demand to know the results, OK?
What better way to show up the indecency of Bill 6 which, yes, allows the government to suppress the findings of a Public Inquiry -- a very bad bill which is crying out to be R*E*S*C*I*N*D*E*D ... yeah?
But gosh, Koot, you stepped right across that cowpat about CanWest being silent on the B.C. Rail case because there's nothing to report.
The two issues are kinda like the same thing, don't you think -- like suppression of information the public needs to know?
There is no question that Canwest sanitizes facts. Sadly, they never seem to 'get it' that the public wants the whole truth & nothing but the TRUTH.
Please keep up the diligent detective work BC Mary, Bill Teilman & team!!!
HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE ~
second look -- the big Chocolate Egg Trophy to you for eagle-eye insight and encouragement. For sure, the commenters add a lot to this TLR blog.
One of the hard lessons I learned in historical research was how difficult it is to assess what ISN'T in the files or newspapers or books. And that what ISN'T there, is usually the really important stuff.
[You might get my drift better if I explain that I learned this lesson in the archives of Lord Louis Mountbatten at U. of Southampton. He was the Royal Navy person who pushed the impossible Dieppe Raid (19 Aug 1942) forward, tried to have U.S. movie people spin the disaster as an Allied victory, but when the casualty lists began to fill page after page in Canadian newspapers, he -- supported by his minions -- kept trying for the rest of his life to evade responsibility. That's where I came in. On the 50th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid, in the scholarly British journal "History Today", one of Mountbatten's chums wrote a "tribute" which blamed the Canadians for the fiasco. No doubt they'll wait for people like me to die, then change the story back to Blameless Mountbatten again. Because there will always be newspapers and authors who wait to be told what the "real news" is, rather than dig for the truth and explain it to the public, so that Mr Big du jour looks good again.]
Interesting though how different in tone this piece by Mulgrew was compared to his last one in which he essentially said that that there was no real harm no real foul in all of this. Specifically, I think he used the term 'cosiness' between lobbyists and pols.
OT to Mary and GW--
Thanks for the great history lesson over at my place - really interesting to see a comment thread take off on its own like that with a real discussion between folks who really know something about that which they speak.
The Brits loved the Canadians during two rotten lousy wars. The generals seem to carry a grudge for some reason ... heh heh ... and I think I know what it is.
Watched this morning's ceremonies at Vimy Ridge (yes, a British friend took me there, too), it brought back memories.
It really is beautiful, that memorial, and evokes a proper sense of mourning for what was lost. That imo is how we should remember war. Nobody really wins.
There is nothing like the great teacher of experience - oui??? Your researching skills are impecable & serve you - all of us VERY well. Thank you for sharing your illuminating 'experience with us ~ kudos!!
If I sound passionate it is because I am: a condition resulting from SEEING the truth covered up repeatedly, & the havoc it creates. Enough already!!
The biggest lesson learned? Your wise words, BC Mary, sum it up: ". . . what ISN'T there, is usually the really important stuff"
The devil IS in the details, indeed! Experience is the best teacher when one is involved in a politically sensitive file involving several 'Mr Bigs du jour'~ an education & a half folks!! We could write the book Cover-up at all cost; the name of the name. Sanitize those sensitive details/facts with scalpel precision at all cost to justice or ethics - Truth be damned
News flash: the 'Circle' is tight regardless of whether it is the details on the 'Raid' or Vanoc - let no one be fooled & Canwest knows it - BTW, all players in the 'Circle' will be monitoring this site getting antsier by the minute.
For instance: what other politically sensitive files has Inspector DeBruyckere handled? Never ask a question that you don't have the answer to - comprendez?! Such a team we've had at play. Follow the linakages . . .
But, alas, dear friends, as we have all learned: persistence is the key in the face of this worn out game where the systems manipulated by people in positions of public trust LOL!! The 'Circle' cannot win when the truth hits the light of day & is pursued with vigor.
Personal experience HAS given a shocking expose of the 'Circle' involved in this private game; building their 'House of Cards': the Justice (?) ruled by a 'political circle' who cover for their own; Government 'Reports' used as shaky building blocks, penned by people in highly placed postitions choosing omit the facts. Who cares about ethics faced with 'political pressure' to cover, in order to climb the ladder & land safely. It is like a cancer corrupting those who know better.
Reporters who used to be good at their craft are muzzled - it must be dificult for these people to stay at their desks when they are trained to do so much better with their time. Investigative reporting has the gone way of the Do-Do bird. Unfortunately one loses respect for the individuals involved - everyone makes choices, boys . . .
BC Mary, your team armed with the truth are beating them at their old game.
Once one 'gets it' - the House of Cards begins to fall & the rats start to run for cover.
Personally, we made our choice from the start: take the high road & persist with the TRUTH. This approach resonates with many British Columbians who have had enough of the Game & urge us not to give up. It also resonates with the decent people holding postions of public trust.
Onwards & upwards.