Monday, April 23, 2007
Robin: A Morning in Courtroom 54
A Morning in Courtroom 54
To the average person, visits to Court see strange human happenings. Today the unrelieved sleaze of the Campbell operation, however, diminished everything else. I'll get to that.
Today Gary Collins' lawyer was present again in the gallery, as he seems to be each day, protecting Collins' interests, as he makes quite clear. How he can do that, however, is not very evident. I'd say his presence alerts everyone else to the fact that Collins thinks he has things to worry about.
Then there's the Globe and Mail reporter sitting near me. The day opened with need to change or shift some of the schedule and when it was finished being done, I wasn't sure what had been decided. At the morning break, I asked the Globe and Mail reporter who shouted at me to leave her alone, she was working. She had a story to file, get out of the way - so to speak. I didn't mind at all, her outburst. Imagine working for the Globe and Mail.
So I asked a lawyer for the Crown and found out - nothing will be happening on the 25th and 26th. Then I went to another lady who hadn't been able to catch the change and told her. Her appreciation made up for the tongue lashing a little earlier.
The gallery had close to 20 people in it, a few seemed to be students on a "project" to look at the grand spectacle of Canadian justice.
For the Defence, Kevin McCullough again listed materials that have not been disclosed or shoddily disclosed. Madam Justice Bennett listened.
Quietly, McCullough pointed out that the divisions among the police, the politicos, and the politicians was not anything as simple as they all would like us to think. The Solicitor General, for instance, was being briefed on RCMP investigation. Campbell, Collins, Coleman (Solicitor General) and others sat on a key committee concerned with political direction. At least two men in Gordon Campbell's office were directing David Basi to do things in his role in Media Monitoring. What it comes down to - with very many illustrations given by McCullough - was that Basi himself, and using others, telephoned in to radio shows to pretend to be ordinary citizens when Gordon Campbell was speaking, and others.
On one occasion, (Nov.27 03) Basi phoned into a radio show, pretended he was someone else, commended Campbell on privatizing B.C. Rail, and asked a stooge question. On another occasion Basi paid a connection to go into Safeway, make a purchase, and then come out and heckle and harass a group gathered there to protest the implementation of fish farms. Stories of the kind tumbled out for part of the morning. At one point Basi telephoned to a Solidarity group in Victoria, posed as a mill owner closed down by the NDP, to leave a message. Then when Vanderzalm was going to appear on a show, plans were made to give him "a rough ride". Etcetera.
This was, we should note, when Basi was also alleged to be dealing with OMNItrax and the "consolation prize" they were allegedly promised if they would stay in the bidding for B.C. Rail - the consolation prize being the Roberts Bank rail spur, later killed because of "leaks" of information.
More eerie and more disturbing even was the accounting of the "deal" made with Eric Bornmann to be a witness against the accused. (Remember he said he carried a bribe, and his partner admitted to paying what was "tantamount" to a bribe.) Disclosure is almost non-existent on the matter. But RCMP and the Special Prosecutor apparently went to work to see that whatever "deal" was made. Bornmann himself released information that he had a letter from the Special Prosecutor that he had been cleared of all wrong-doing. That was taken up quite heavily by press and media. The RCMP did not deny it; the Special Prosecutor, Berardino didn't deny it. After a time Defence phoned Berardino's office to learn that no such thing had happened. "To protect the trial rights of Mr. Virk," Defence asked, "aren't you going to correct this?"
Not only that, but the RCMP and the Special Prosecutor permitted both of the men involved, allegedly, in bribes, to continue as lobbyists, lobbying government officials and even being permitted seats among those in the budget lock-up.
In my latest column for vivelecanada I suggest that the strange and feverish activity to get the goods on the accused may be part of a very large operation to shift attention from the dirty sale of B.C. Rail and - especially - the dirty hands involved, AND the strong likelihood the deal was unlawful. This morning in courtroom 54 I felt confirmed on all those points.