Saturday, July 28, 2007


How the transformed B.C. Rail began pouring oil into Burrard Inlet and how now-Kinder Morgan didn't know exactly where the old B.C. Gas pipeline was

Please scroll back to 4/5/07 on this web-site for a different slant on the disaster occurring on the shores of Burrard Inlet. Look for:

Here's a quote: Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P. is one of the largest publicly traded pipeline limited partnerships in America. KMP owns an interest in or operates approximately 26,000 miles of pipelines and approximately 150 terminals. Its pipelines transport more than two million barrels/day of gasoline and other petroleum products and up to seven billion cubic feet/day of natural gas, and its terminals handle over 90 million tons of coal and other bulk materials annually and have a liquids storage capacity of about 70 million barrels for petroleum products and chemicals. KMP is also the leading provider of CO(2) for enhanced oil recovery projects in North America.

Then go to 3/14/07 and see:

Quote: 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).

Then see the 3/16/07 post titled NAFTA-NASCO SUPERHIGHWAY with maps. This one is well worth re-reading at this time, because of the final quotes from Premier Campbell which will be provided in conclusion.

Quote: 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.

And, as oil spills from Kinder Morgan's pipeline, ruptured by such a simple thing as a backhoe, let's listen in as Premier Gordon Campbell addresses "a powerful group" in Anchorage Alaska -- knowing they will appreciate his dreams of a new kind of British Columbia:


The Globe and Mail - July 24, 2007

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA -- The future of governance in North America is taking place here. At least that's what British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell believes.

And that was his somewhat provocative message yesterday to a powerful group of business and political leaders from the Pacific Northwest that has gathered in Anchorage to discuss a range of common issues from border security to trade opportunities with Asia.

"We don't need permissions from our federal governments," Mr. Campbell told the group. "We can't wait for them. We have to act. If we don't we'll lose."

He was speaking to the annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a group that has been around for 17 years but has taken on a much higher profile in the past few years as state and provincial governments join to solve a host of shared problems.

And look at a range of new opportunities.

PNWER consists of B.C., Alberta and Yukon, as well as the U.S. states of Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho and Oregon. Together, they form a powerful economic and political entity with a total population of more than 20 million people and gross domestic product of about $848-billion (U.S.).

Throw California into the mix, as Mr. Campbell likes to do, and the power of the region becomes even more staggering, with a GDP of more than $2-trillion and a population of nearly 60 million. {Snip} ...

The Premier has already begun to do this within Canada with the interprovincial free-trade agreement B.C. recently signed with Alberta. He is encouraging other provinces to join.

One area Mr. Campbell talked about yesterday was trade with Asia. And the huge advantage China is opening up in terms of port capacity.

For instance, the port capacity in the Pacific Northwest combined totals 7.1 million 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs as they are known. A TEU is the equivalent of one standard-size container. Shanghai's capacity, Mr. Campbell said, is 21 million TEUs. And it plans to increase that capacity by 60 million TEUs in three years.

"That's seven times the capacity we have now," Mr. Campbell said. "Even if we doubled our current capacity we don't have enough capacity to respond to that. So we need to look at this challenge as a group, instead of as individual entities, and see what we can do collectively. How can we collaborate and improve all our economies at the same time? That is what we need to start doing more of. Not waiting for federal governments to step in." {Snip} ...

[Washington State has been working on harmonizing their Drivers' Licences with British Coumbia's. - BC Mary]

"This is the future of governance," Mr. Campbell said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. "Too often institutional inertia holds you back from doing things. The only way to move forward is to get together a group of people of like minds and say, 'Let's act.'

"If you want to join us, fine, if you don't, that's fine too. But we're going to go ahead anyway. We can drive societal change by our action. We can lead and let the federal governments follow in the wake of our momentum.
I think that's what we're doing in the Pacific Northwest now and I think that's fundamentally different from the way we used to do things." {Snip} ...

Read the full article at:

Gary Mason: Thanks for this report. Often, I passionately disagree with your take on B.C. developments. But this report (in my view) reflects a nervousness which is much to your credit. Thanks again. - BC Mary.


Now an important August 1, 2007 Update: Kinder Morgan was not using the available technology to chart exactly where the underground pipeline was ... ? Read on:

Jonathan Woodward,
Vancouver Sun - August 02, 2007

While there has been much discussion about where the Kinder Morgan pipeline actually runs under Inlet Drive in Burnaby, The Vancouver Sun can now say exactly where it is.

A Sun reporter and photographer donned hard hats and safety vests, slipped past flag people Tuesday evening and joined a crew from Terraprobe, a Burnaby-based firm specializing in ground-penetrating radar, to map the pipeline with scientific precision.

Using a lawn mower-sized device, the whole procedure took less than 30 minutes, and enabled The Sun to know within centimetres not only where the 61-centimetre (24-inch) pipeline was along the suburban highway stretch, but also every water main, electrical line and major underground structure.

"The pipeline is a very large, obvious target," said Csaba Ekes, president of Terraprobe, whose firm offered to do the probe. "If we had been able to do this last week, we would have accurately mapped the pipeline's location then, too." {SNIP} ...

It's important contractors get the most exact information they can before they dig, said University of B.C. civil engineering Prof. Nemy Banthia. "Ground-penetrating radar is a very good way of doing this. So anybody who is excavating should do GPR mapping of the place before anything happens, especially if there is a sensitive pipeline here."


Friday, July 27, 2007


The Sunriver Quiz

Guess where the B.C. Ministry of Housing plans to create a massive real estate development of 2,000, or 5,000, or 7,000 housing units? And where the Honourable Minister Rich Coleman (former real estate developer) cried out,"No, no, not nearly big enough! More, more!" [See answers below. No prizes. This is B.C.]

Question #2, think about Sunriver Estates which only a year or two ago, with only 700 homes planned, was considered a "massive real estate development". Where is Sunriver? Sunriver is in the news today, too. Hmmm ... Sunriver? We've heard that name before, haven't we?


Times Colonist
Published: Friday, July 27, 2007

Thirty-two multi-family units have been approved in Sooke's Sunriver development.

Sooke council has issued a development permit to Citta Construction Ltd. to allow eight fourplexes to be built at The Pointe, in the southwest corner of Phase 1 of the development. The site is bordered by DeMamiel Creek on the west, south and east sides.

Question #3: Someone we know, was in the news a while back about that very project. Who was that person?

Allegations latest to arise from police raid on legislature

Lindsay Kines and Jeff Rud
Times Colonist - April 04, 2006

The police raid of the B.C. legislature two years ago has led to new allegations that a former government aide took $50,000 to help grease the wheels of a massive housing development in Sooke.

David Basi, former assistant to then-finance minister Gary Collins, faces three counts of defrauding government and one of breach of trust. Two local developers linked to the 700-home Sunriver Estates project face the same four charges.

Basi allegedly took the money between Jan. 1, 2002, and Sept. 1, 2003, in connection with an application by Shambrook Hills Development Corp., also known as Sunriver Estates Ltd., to remove farmland from the agricultural land reserve.

Anthony Ralph (Tony) Young and James Seymour (Jim) Duncan are accused of paying the $50,000 to Basi. Duncan is listed in company records as one of the directors of Sunriver Estates, and Tony Young is listed on Sunriver's voice-mail directory at its Victoria office.

RCMP spokesman Staff Sgt. John Ward said the Sunriver charges stem from the Dec. 28, 2003, raid on the legislature. "This information came to light as a result of that investigation," he said. {Snip}...

... [Dave Basi's] lawyer Michael Bolton said ... "I can't say too much because I don't have any disclosure with regard to these charges," Bolton said. "But I can tell you that they seem to embrace an allegation that Dave Basi influenced a decision or decisions of the Agricultural Land Commission. And on behalf of Dave Basi, I can simply say that: No. 1, he had no connection with the Agricultural Land Commission ... No. 2, he had no ability to influence decisions of the Agricultural Land Commission and, thirdly, it is his position that at no time did he pretend to have influence on the decisions of the Agricultural Land Commission."

Neither Duncan nor Young could be reached for comment Monday.

But Norm Eden, one of the partners in the project, told the Times Colonist three years ago that Sunriver would probably average out at $250,000 a home over the life of the development, giving the 155-hectare subdivision a total built-out value of about $175 million. The Times Colonist story said the developers took about six months in 2002 to have some parts of the project removed from the agricultural land reserve, with 57 hectares left undeveloped as park, trails and green space.

Sooke Mayor Janet Evans expressed shock at the latest allegations. '"Oh no, oh no," she said, when told about them. "Oh dear. Well, that's not good. That's not good at all."

Evans, who was a councillor at the time, recalled Sunriver developers approaching council to remove the former Philip farm property from the land reserve about four years ago. She believes council passed the request along to the Agricultural Land Commission without a recommendation.

The commission allowed some of the land to be removed, Evans said. The developers then applied to council for rezoning and the development permit.

"It's a nice subdivision and we were thrilled to get it," she said. "There's still quite a bit of ALR land left in there, because the soil conditions were good, and that was our understanding when it was removed, that [the commissioners] have the expertise [on] what they took out and what they left in.

"Council, obviously, and the community, obviously, thought that that was a good project for us. And it's been successful. They've won some awards, and the district's got some beautiful parkland out of it, and trails and the school site. It's unfortunate if they went about it that way, if those accusations are true."

Agriculture Minister Pat Bell said a ministerial assistant in the Finance Ministry would have no influence on decisions by the Agriculture Land Commission. He said he has no plans to review the commission's work, noting that the RCMP have raised no concerns about the commission. "If the RCMP were to bring that forward to me, I'd be happy to consider that," he said.

Answers: Coquitlam, Sooke, Dave Basi. If you got 2 answers right, you need to get outdoors more. If you guessed 3 answers correctly, you're obviously an Insider and are disqualified. One right out of 3 ... not sure but I think you might be Carole James. - BC Mary.


Thursday, July 26, 2007


Five days in December 2003

On December 11, 2003, Bill Berardino was appointed Special Prosecutor. His instructions were to oversee the case of Victoria Police Constable Ravinder Dosanjh charged with obstruction of justice (later found guilty), and to look into some issues surrounding appointees at the B.C. Legislature.

That point needs to be emphasized: some issues surrounding appointees at the B.C. Legislature.

This was 16 days after the B.C. government completed its controversial sale of B.C. Rail on 25 November 2003 amid allegations by CPRail that the bidding process was unfair. Another bidder, OmniTRAX, had also complained. The 4th bidder had dropped out much earlier in the process. And there were only 4 bidders. Quite the auction.

The public was mostly opposed to the sale, particularly in the northern areas dependent upon B.C. Rail for timely shipment of their products. In fact, many believed that the premier had won his election on his promise never to sell B.C. Rail. Tensions ran high.

Geoff Plant, then Attorney General, was told on December 1, 2003 that a case was coming up, requiring a special prosecutor and possibly would also involve a search of the B.C. Legislature.

This seems important: five days after the sale of B.C. Rail, the outline of a special case requiring police investigation was known to concern people inside the Legislature.

Eleven days later, the Attorney General appointed Bill Berardino as Special Prosecutor on that special case.

William S. Berardino was once a law partner of Geoff Plant. Bill was actually appointed, though, by Robert Gillen, Plant's assistant deputy, so that makes it all right. Or does it?

Was Bill the best choice for such a delicate yet deeply significant investigation? Wouldn't we want an Eddie Greenspan? Maybe even a James Bond? Or both?

However, we got Bill Berardino and he was on the job (we assume he was on the job) mere days after that controversial deal was signed. He must've heard the chorus of complaints, allegations and public protests. But Bill sees nothing. Bill hears nothing. And by gosh, Bill tells us nothing.

In fact, British Columbians should bear in mind that Bill's specialty is mediation. Not trials, not criminal actions: mediation. Making nice. Making it so that everybody goes home happy.

In Case #VA23299 this could mean that if somebody doesn't yank Bill's chain hard, soon, he and his team just might go home happy, as might all the witnesses, and certainly the Accused. But not so much, the voiceless general public, still waiting to hear the evidence under oath, as to what happened to B.C. Rail.

So, tell me again, why is it that people are trying to heap the blame on the RCMP for delaying this case?

- BC Mary

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Still tracking B.C. Rail ...

It used to be that B.C. Rail was a public utility designed to serve the needs of passengers and freight along the heartland route through British Columbia.

In olden times, it suffered as much as the PacifiCats from its opponents who called it the "Please Go Easy" instead of the original Pacific Great Eastern railway.

Well, the suits eventually won and today B.C. Rail is an unrecognizable part of CN's numbers game. Here's the latest


Paul Delean,
CanWest News Service - July 25, 2007

MONTREAL -- Canada's fast-moving rail stocks lost a bit of steam Tuesday in the wake of unremarkable second-quarter earnings from both Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and Canadian National Railway Co.

CP was down 3.6 per cent to $83.60, while CN dropped 5.5 per cent to $57.03.

Still, both stocks show solid advances in 2007 and double-digit gains going back 12 months, and some analysts are convinced the setback is temporary. {Snip} ...

CP stock went from $77.05 to $89 last week and even with Tuesday's drop is trading above where it was a week ago. It's gained 32 per cent in the past year.

CN, which traded below $52 in January, got as high as $60.65 last week. {Snip} ...

But Matt Pugsley, in a research comment for the Bank Credit Analyst, said he expects railroads to underperform the broad market because "financing costs in this capital-intensive industry have increased at a time when revenue growth prospects still appear minimal."

He said the industry "remains exposed to the main sources of economic drag," and "the latest producer price report showed that rail pricing power continues to slide in absolute terms . . . The steady decline in the ability of the industry to raise selling prices is symptomatic of persistent weakness in overall rail car shipment growth." [What in blazes does that mean? - BC Mary.]

Canadian Pacific is sticking with revenue-growth projections of four to six per cent in 2007 and profit increases of nine to 12 per cent. CN has lowered its forecast earnings growth to five per cent from 10.

CP has outpaced CN significantly in stock appreciation over the past 12 months, which led some analysts to recommend taking profits on CP and switching to CN.

The entire dismal story is at:


Saturday, July 21, 2007


Thousand-year B.C. Rail deal

Should we add Gary Rennick to the Basi-Virk-Basi Witness list? And his colleagues at omniTRAX, Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson? And ask them how they felt after losing out on the bidding to buy B.C. Rail, especially when they felt the bidding might have been rigged?

Another bidder, CP wrote in a bitter private letter, dated November 21, 2003, and copied to the premier's office, that the government's handling of the BC Rail deal was "extremely prejudiced", that CN had been provided "enhanced access to shippers", and that CP was formally withdrawing from the bidding.

"By allowing CN access to BC Rail's customers at a time when CPR was prohibited by its confidentiality agreement from contacting such customers, the province has, whether intentionally or not, provided CN with an unfair competitive advantage," says the CP letter.

The trainmen in Prince George were equally upset, and were calling for a 2-year delay before considering B.C. Rail a done deal.

Sawmills along the BC Rail line were concerned about their need for secure schedules.

Then I came upon this helpful 3-year-old article:

Paul Willcocks
Paying Attention - April 20, 2004

VICTORIA - The BC Rail sale is turning into a huge problem for the Liberals.

Even people who don't think government should be running a railway are worried about the Liberals' slipperiness and self-serving secrecy, highlighted by the news that CN Rail is getting the right to run the railway for almost 1,000 years.

When the Liberals announced the deal in November, they released a summary of the terms designed to sell the public on the merits of the sale. Everything else was to stay secret until the federal competition bureau approved the deal - when it would be too late for any changes. [Has the full agreement ever been released to the public? - BC Mary]

And a centrepiece of the Liberal spin was the claim that the deal was for 90 years, with CN Rail getting a 60-year lease with a 30-year renewal option.

That was part of Premier Gordon Campbell's bogus claim that he wasn't breaking a campaign promise not to sell BC Rail.

Now columnist Michael Smyth reports in The Province that the deal includes 15 more 60-year renewal options that the Liberals never mentioned. And CN won't have to pay the government a nickle more if it exercises those options and operates the railway on public land for 990 years.

Normal business practice, says Transportation MInister Kevin Falcon. Sure CN Rail can keep operating the line until 2994 (unless centuries of global warming mean parts of it are under water). But every 60 years government can decide to buy the business back from CN. No big deal.

But if it's normal business practice, and no big thing, why did the government not only keep it secret but mislead the public with its claim the deal was for 90 years? (One answer may be that the money CN paid works out to $750 a year on the longer term.)

The government also kept secret a contract clause that specifies that CN Rail can close parts of the line - after a five-year moratorium - and buy the land for $1.

Falcon defends the provision. It protects the province, he says. If the land is valuable, the government will exercise its right to keep it. But if it's contaminated and requires costly clean-up, the government will be able to force the burden on to CN Rail. It's good business.

But if it's good business, why the secrecy? Why, even now, does the government refuse to release the details of this and other provisions that could bind the people of the province for 1,000 years?

The deal faces other big problems. The courts have ruled that before any Crown land is transferred to private ownership, local First Nations with unresolved land claims must be consulted.

The Liberals maintain that because the government retains ownership of the dirt beneath the tracks, there is no duty to consult. And they set up a $15-million development fund to try and win support from the 25 First Nations along the rail line.

It's not working. First Nations have already served notice that they believe the deal is a sale, and will exercise their legal rights.

BC Rail has turned into a nightmare for the Liberals. Campbell's 1996 campaign pledge to sell the railway helped lose him that election. In 2001, he said he had learned his lesson: BC Rail would not be sold or privatized.

But that's exactly what he's done. The government's claim that because the province continues to own the dirt beneath the tracks BC Rail hasn't been sold is bogus. CN owns all the equipment, and the business, and runs it with no strings attached.

Campbell could have defended the sale of BC Rail. He could have argued that the risk to taxpayers in owning a railway outweighs the potential economic development boost for resource communities. (It's a good argument.)

But it's much tougher to try and deny the broken New Era promise, or defend the unwarranted secrecy - and slipperiness - around this deal.

Footnote: Falcon made much of CN Rail's likely investment of some $3.5 billion in the railway over the next 90 years. But that is comparable to past BC Rail spending each year on maintenance and equipment, money that in recent years has come from the railway's profits.

More details on Information to Obtain, prepared by RCMP at:

For Google generated HTML copy go to HTML Version

For the more impressive version in Adobe Portable Document Format - where the missing parts show in BLACK - go to PDF Version

The date when this 75% to 80% unredacted document was released is October 7, 2004, or nearly one full year after the warrants were executed at the Legislature. Generally this type of information is public immediately following the execution of the warrants. Though search warrants and their reasons seldom are considered "newsworthy"
and thus on the front page of the Vancouver Sun, the reasons for their existence are "supposed" to be available to the public AND the defendants, if any, ASAP. The only acceptable reasons for redaction used to be to protect law enforcement "informants" and other private/personal information such as phone numbers and addresses.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Number of RCMP officers involved in the Basi-Virk-Basi investigation: 50

Sometimes when we look back through old documents, certain things seem to leap from the page, as if we had never seen them before. For his June 6, 2007 story "The Paper of No Record" I thank Ian Reid at in which he compared how Neil Hall's story had been presented in Vancouver Sun and Victoria Times Colonist. But what leapt out at me was this single paragraph:


Judge says there has been a 'substantial failure' to respect disclosure rights of accused

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - Tuesday, June 05, 2007

{Snip} ... He estimated 50 RCMP officers were involved in the investigation. He was uncertain how long it would take for each officer to check whether everything has been disclosed to the defence.

"The judge ordered it be done forthwith," Bolton said. "This is not something that can drag on." {Snip} ...

And then there are other old items fondly remembered, like this one from RossK's dated May 16, 2007:


Mr. Stuart Chase is a British Columbia government employee.

That means that we, the people, pay his salary.

As part of his job the good Mr. Chase apparently makes his way to BC Supreme Courtroom #54 in downtown Vancouver to sit in on the BC RailGate pre-trial hearings.

And, according to one of BC Mary's eyewitness Anon-O-Mice, this is what the good Mr. Chase does:

Mr. Chase doesn't talk with reporters. He doesn't talk with members of the public. He sits on his own on the left hand side of the gallery.

When court rises he gathers his things and leaves directly, takes the elevator down to the Smythe street entrance, jaywalks across the street towards Hornby, crosses at the light and strides into 865 Hornby, where the Ministry of Tourism has offices. It is there, I presume, that he files his reports, twice daily.

I'd say he has more than a hundred pages of hand written notes to date to draw from. Oddly, he seems much more engaged and active in the note taking department when the defence is before the court.

According to Attorney General Wally Oppal, however, the good Mr. Chase is actually there to help the media and members of the public in the courtroom gallery and, I dunno, perhaps wayward schoolchildren and folks who get lost heading back to their cars in the courthouse parking garage after shopping on Robson St., understand the intricacies of our legal system.

Which, of course, is quite at odds with the Anon-O-Mouse's description.

But who ya gonna believe these days, anyway......

A highly respected member of the British Columbia legislature who works in the highest capacity for the Premier, Mr. Gordon Campbell, or some lowly member of the public who is just doing his or her best to find out what is really going on.

Well, luckily, we have a report from Les Leyne in the Times-Colonist who discovered what the good Mr. Chase is really up to by, get this, asking him:

At the risk of putting the young man on the outs with his boss, it was Chase himself who cheerfully set the record straight.

In an interview later, Chase said he sits in on the trial daily and sends a straight factual report on proceedings twice each day to the director and the manager of the attorney general's public affairs division. Those reports give them a sense of what's going on. He doesn't brief reporters, he doesn't talk to the public.


Looks like the highly respected, and highly respectable, Mr. Oppal has some explaining to do.

And it also looks like it is getting to the point where we, the public, may wish to consider the possibility that everything Mr. Oppal has to say about this matter from now on may actually be a highly respectable and respected attempt at, how shall we phrase it.....


Which is, of course, just a very respectable and highly respected way of saying lying.

An informative report in the CanWest newspapers on Constable Joe Slemko makes it more clear how the police fit into the scenes in Courtroom 54/53. The URL is provided below, but here's the segment asking: is the police or is it the Crown providing evidence at trial? There's way more to it, of course. See: POLICE WITNESS POLICY UNDER FIRE by Charles Rusnell. Edmonton Journal - 18 July 2007:

Quote: The Edmonton Police Service contends Slemko places himself in a conflict every time he testifies for the defence. Police officers must clear all outside work and are barred from any business activity that "might reasonably be expected to impair their judgment, independence or unbiased performance of police duty." Supt. Dwayne Gibbs, the head of EPS human resources, decided Slemko was in a conflict because the EPS believes the Crown and police are "indivisible" in a prosecution. Slemko has defied the policy because he said he will not compromise his values as a police officer.

Full report at:

With a very interesting update in Victoria Times Colonist, as follows:


Chief reverses policy declaring it a conflict of interest for police to be defence witnesses

Charles Rusnell,
The Edmonton Journal: Thursday, July 19, 2007

EDMONTON - In an abrupt about-face, the Edmonton Police Service has dropped a controversial policy that barred one of its officers, an internationally recognized blood-spatter expert, from testifying for the defence as a private consultant in criminal cases.

Saying he wouldn't be bound by the policy of a previous administration, Chief Mike Boyd said he had no problems with Const. Joe Slemko testifying for the defence.

"I have no concern about any police officer testifying in court either for the defence or the Crown," Boyd said after a police commission meeting Wednesday. "There is no ownership of a witness. So when a police officer gives evidence in court -- either to the benefit of an accused or the detriment of an accused -- they give their evidence independently, objectively, honestly."

Boyd was forced to address the policy before the police commission Wednesday after The Journal revealed this week that Slemko has twice been convicted of insubordination for defying the policy and faces a third internal disciplinary hearing this fall. Slemko also has been denied his 20-year exemplary service medal.

Until Wednesday, city police had contended Slemko placed himself in a conflict every time he testified for the defence. Police officers must clear all outside work with the department and are barred from any business activity that "might reasonably be expected to impair their judgment, independence or unbiased performance of police duty."

Supt. Dwayne Gibbs, the head of EPS human resources, decided Slemko was in a conflict because the department believes the Crown and police are "indivisible" in a prosecution.

Slemko has said he defied the policy because he will not compromise his values as a police officer, which are based on seeking the truth.

Boyd said he does not agree that the Crown and police are "indivisible," and during the commission meeting read from a recent policy statement of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police that said the police and prosecution should be independent but must co-operate in the administration of justice. {Snip}...

The police department's policy barring Slemko from testifying for the defence has been sharply criticized by academics and the union representing rank-and-file officers. They said EPS management should not be allowed to tell officers who they can testify on behalf of.
Which re-opens my question: who, in the Basi-Virk-Basi trial, is responsible for providing the documents required by the defence: the RCMP? Or the Crown prosecution? - BC Mary


Monday, July 16, 2007


Random Notes from Courtroom 53

Robin Mathews

July 16, 2007

Hearing in the Basi, Virk, and Basi proceedings took place today in Courtroom 53. A number of familiar journalists were not present. Is it holiday time in Vancouver or did they get word there'd be little to cover? There was plenty to cover.

The hearing was, in some ways, to mark progress on the gathering and distribution of evidence asked for in the last Applications for Disclosure. And, especially, to report on the administration of the orders made by the judge to get evidence in and to the Defence.

Hearings plod on, but there is no certainty they will eventuate in a trial. Justice delayed is justice denied, and under the eye of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, the snail's pace ... continues. That brings up a philosophical question ... to follow.

The disagreement about efficiency of collection (by the Crown) and availability (to the Defence) of materials asked for continues unrelentingly. Prosecution, again, insisted that mess must be avoided and everything about its delay bore on the necessity to produce clean, clear, certain materials. (That is a little funny in the light of the past record of the Prosecution - the Crown - which, again and again produced incomplete or badly described materials.) Defence reported that some (late) documents (arriving because of the court order) are of considerable importance.

Defence was not happy with the Crown's explanation for delay, and it cited letters written over and over to the Crown requesting a schedule to review the Drug files. The Crown made no reply. It was apparently too busy with important work to acknowledge and reply to letters from Defence. On the one hand, Defence is demonstrating to the Court apparent fudging by the Crown. On the other hand, the Crown is perhaps saying "we're in charge here, and we will direct the movement of the process. We, after all, are the Crown."

Whatever the case, the delay in beginning the Drug files Review was a good month.

One of the orders Madam Justice Bennett made was that the Special Prosecutor answer three questions about the deal or arrangement made with Erik Bornmann ("Star Witness") and his lawyer by William Berardino, Special Crown Prosecutor. That was brushed past quickly; there were no documents.

And yes, Bill Berardino was there, Bill looked all sleekit and smooth, making only one or two small interventions. But Janet Winteringham carried the can for most of the day.

Defence asked earlier for the right to cross-examine Berardino and the lawyer for Bornmann. Madam Justice Bennett invented the three questions instead. To a layman, the cross-examination would have been very, very important. Was Madam Justice Bennett avoiding embarrassment for the Crown? Who knows? As it was today, the matter passed in seconds. Apparently insignificant.

The two teams had to face unrealistic dates for further hearing and to readjust them. So they will have a conference call hearing on August 13 and aim to have the Drug files Review finished for a hearing set on September 4, when they can discuss success with obtaining third party materials - connected frequently more closely to the Campbell government. Then there is a voir dire in October, and then...and then....

Philosophically, the question persists. Are the delays necessary? Defence seems to think they are not.

The question persists: is Madam Justice Bennett doing enough to move the proceedings along. Today, again, she asserted that she wants to move things along. Does she, really? The question poses itself because - as I said before - she has power to order that things be done within time limits. If the Special Crown Prosecutor had to hire three new assistants to get material processed and to the Defence - I believe the taxpayer (who is footing all the Crown's bills) would be happy.

Shouldn't Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett have said to the Crown today: "You are taking too long. You are being paid by the taxpayer who wants to see justice done. Get a few more assistants and GET THE MATERIALS to the Defence by X date, and if you don't do it with scrupulous exactness, you will hear from me."

Defence made a plea today that it works on retainer from the accused. It can only spend so much and can only have so many people pulling all the materials together. That is not the case with the Crown which we, the taxpayers, pay for. For the most part, however, the Crown has been delaying and Defence has been trying to speed things along. Doesn't Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett see that? If she does, she gives no evidence of doing so.

This is a pre-trial process that - more and more - seems to implicate in deepest suspicion of wrong-doing cabinet officials, RCMP officers, top political Liberals and the government of Gordon Campbell in what may be the highest malfeasance in respect to the corrupt sale of BC Rail. I do not have the slightest doubt that in a matter of such grave importance to justice in Canada and to the proper conduct of public affairs for the population of the country the court has powers to move the action forward and to open it up in ways of fundamental importance.

That does not appear to be happening.



Basi Virk Press clippings for July 16



Darah Hansen
Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, July 16, 2007

Lawyers for both the defence and prosecution of two provincial government aides accused of political corruption were told this week they had until early September to sort through thousands of outstanding documents involved in the case, and get the matter ready for trial. {Snip} ...

Special prosecutor Janet Winteringham said today the Crown has since delivered most of the outstanding documents ordered by the judge, including four boxes of papers pertaining to the sale of BC Rail, and several witness statements.

The judge granted the prosecution team until Sept. 4 to finish its full disclosure, including handing over the notes from every police officer involved in the unprecedented 2003 raid on the B.C. Legislature.

Lawyers in the matter are scheduled to confer again with the judge by conference call Aug. 21, with another hearing scheduled Sept. 4 to determine the status of the case.

A new trial date has yet to be scheduled as defence lawyers struggle to get on top of the tens of thousands of new documents coming in to their office as a result of Bennett's June 4 ruling. {Snip} ...


CanWest News Service
Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2007

VANCOUVER - Lawyers for both the defence and prosecution of two provincial government aides accused of political corruption have been told they have until early September to sort through thousands of outstanding documents involved in the case.

In June, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett ruled the Crown had failed to disclose "in a timely way" all the required materials to the accused, former provincial Liberal insiders David Basi and Bob Virk. About 100,000 documents had been disclosed, but Bennett determined thousands more, including police notes, had been withheld.


Sunday, July 15, 2007


Who wins, if we destroy the RCMP?

Tomorrow, we hope, the pre-trial Basi Virk Basi Hearings get under way again and I've been thinking about something for days. I'm sure others have too. Please bear with me, as I really need to say this and to hear your thoughts as well.

Let's start in Victoria during that 1996 storm of the century when a freak weather incident dumped so much snow that people were stranded in their homes, hospitals couldn't change shifts, planes, buses, trucks, cars, ferries couldn't move. It was an emergency requiring the army to move in, which they did, smiling to the welcome they received. And rightly so.

But here's where I started thinking -- did anybody shout: "Somalia! Remember Somalia? Somalia proves that the whole Canadian Army is so bad it needs external investigation and supervision!" Nope. Not then, not now. Rightly so.

Fast forward a few years. Another kind of storm hits Victoria when serious corruption is suspected right inside the B.C. Legislature. This was also a storm way too big, too deeply hidden for citizens to cope with. This, too, was an emergency and the army -- in this case, the para-military -- showed up to do its duty.

And I'm thinking: did anybody shout: "Thanks, guys! Thank goodness you saw that! Thank goodness you investigated! Thanks!" Nope, we didn't say that. There was a ghastly silence about the whole sickening issue until gradually the strange accusations began: rotten police, clumsy police, brutal police, unfair police ... until it became: never believe a word the police are saying. Oh? How come? Who decided on this media strategy? And who does that point of view serve in the longrun?

So here's what I've been thinking ... we know better. We know that nobody stays true to their highest potential under a steady rain of abuse. I'm thinking we all know what a scapegoat is and that rats when threatened will use any strategy to escape or defend themselves.

I've been thinking we know all sorts of things: that every human needs a decent bit of encouragement in their work. We know that the RCMP, just like the Canadian Army, has to face ugly, dangerous situations on our behalf; maybe for the RCMP it's even worse, as they face these dangers on a daily basis. Always on our behalf.

This RCMP family photo (accessible on the Internet) exemplifies the RCMP.
There's the Dad (retired), his two sons, his daughter, and his son-in-law.

We know too that our para-military Royal Canadian Mounted Police is forbidden to speak out publicly in its own defence, so we rarely hear about the great things they do. Maybe that's a wise policy; but certainly it also makes them easy targets for the rats and the unscrupulous.

And we know that even the family dog can tolerate only so much insult and whacking before he gives up and turns sour. We know all that.

So we should be able to guess what's happening in a Mountie's heart and mind each time we insult the entire national police force for incompetence and corruption. We know that isn't smart. If we keep it up, we know that in the end, the RCMP will become a disheartened, uncaring, resentful national police force ... which leaves one awful question to be considered.

I mean, Somalia did happen. Somalia involved real failures that went right up the chain of command to the Minister of National Defence (Kim Campbell). But Somalia was never allowed to define the entire Canadian Army. And I'm thinking: neither should Houston or Vanderhoof define the entire RCMP. [See: Report of Somalia Commission of Inquiry]

So, one last, awful question: who wins, if we continue to disparage the RCMP to the point where they fumble, fail, and can't serve the nation any longer? Who wins ... the Good Guys? Nope, I don't think so.

I think it's the Bad Guys who will win -- and the good, decent citizens of this country who will lose bigtime -- unless we find a way to support and encourage all that's best in the national police force.

It's not a rhetorical question. It's an urgent question of immediate importance: If this public opprobrium continues and the RCMP is brought to its knees, who do you think will come out of it with a benefit? - BC Mary.


Retired RCMP Inspector Earl Peters' Letter to the Prime Minister

Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Subject: New R.C.M.P. Commissioner

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

The recent appointment of Mr. Elliott to be the new Commissioner of the R.C.M.P. causes me to send this message, something that I have never done before.

I served in the R.C.M.P. for over 35 years, and consequently over those years worked for many Commissioners. I retired as an Inspector in 2003, but fortunately knew Commissioners Murray and Zacardelli reasonably well. Each had their own strength and/or weaknesses.

I also had numerous occasions to deal with many of the career Public Service employees at very senior levels who were forced on the R.C.M.P. It appalls me to hear that your government has made the decision to appoint yet another Public Service employee on the R.C.M.P.; and worst yet as the Commissioner.

Many of the problems that the R.C.M.P. has faced in recent years stem from several of those same Public Service employees who were parachuted in at the senior executive ranks. The media, and Mr. Brown, focused all of their venom on (retired)Commissioner Zacardelli. I know well that Commissioner Zacardelli was strong willed, and perhaps stayed too long, but many of the abuses connected to 'my pension fund' were committed by those Public Service employees; yet nary a word about them????

Every day that a police officer goes to work he or she puts their life on the line. I have known well, four officers who were murdered 'in the line of duty'. On more than one occasion, I myself was a trigger pull away from death. The R.C.M.P., (not true of the N.W.M.P.) has until recently traditionally required that its officers be promoted up through the ranks, unlike the military. It always gave me some comfort to know that the decision makers in the R.C.M.P. had once 'been on the street', so had some idea of what it is like to put your life on the line.

I won't belabor the point, other than to say that this appointment was a massive betrayal of all of those men and women who daily put themselves in harm's way to protect all Canadians (including you). Your decision to approve a Commissioner from outside the Force was at best poorly advised, your decision to approve a Commissioner who has zero years of policing experience is unforgivable. There is little doubt in my mind that this singular action will cause you to lose a significant amount of support from current members and their families as well as the vast majority of those retired members like myself.

It is apparent that there is also very negative feedback on this appointment (yet to be officially announced). Knowing the organization and human nature, as I do, it is also apparent, that Mr. Elliott will have to surround himself with a bunch of other Public Service employees to carry out his 'questionable mission'.

It appears that your government has a mission to turn the R.C.M.P. into a Canadian version of the United States F.B.I. If you knew anything about policing you would know that they are not held in the highest regard by the policing community within the U.S.A. The very 'paramilitary' nature of the R.C.M.P. is what made the R.C.M.P. the respected Force that it is today.

I can only hope that the Force can weather the tenure of this Commissioner and that his 'changes' will not have a long term negative impact on the Force that I know and love. You had far better options available to you, and yet you chose Mr. Elliott.

If this decision to appoint Mr. Elliott is indicative of your government's decision making ability then I look forward to the day when you are once again Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. I will no longer support you and your government, and will now actively work toward a change in government.

Earl Peters

Salt Spring News, Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Posted by: Jim Scott


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


B.C. Rail didn't operate this way ... CN was never interested in our north-south haul


Cathryn Atkinson
Squamish BC
The Globe and Mail - July 12, 2007

Outdated technology and poor training and supervision caused the 2005 CN derailment says the TSB report released yesterday {Snip}...

John Buchanan is a Squamish resident and former BC Rail car man who was once part of a team responsible for the safety inspection of all inbound and outbound trains at the Squamish depot ... that job disappeared. "They don't do those inspections any more since the CN takeover," he said ...

Mr Buchanan added that " ... When CN bought BC Rail, one of the things in that agreement was that after 5 years CN no longer had to do any operations on this line. They already have a north-south haul going through the Fraser Canyon. They were never interested in our north-south haul because of the Cheakamus Canyon ... Mark my words, after the 5 years is up in a year or two, you won't be seeing freight coming up and down this line."

Click here for complete article in The Globe and Mail:



Government report says CN operations still a risk

CBC News
Wednesday July 11, 2007

The Transportation Safety Board has found that the use of old technology and a lack of training and supervision were responsible for a CN derailment that spilled 40,000 litres of caustic soda into the Cheakamus River.

Despite improvements by the railway, the board said it is concerned about the risk of a similar derailment in the future.

The spill two years ago killed more than 500,000 fish and caused extensive environmental damage on the southwestern B.C. river.

The board released its findings Wednesday in Squamish, B.C.

It said in its report that the three-kilometre train had seven engines, including two in the middle. But those two middle engines shut down less than 15 minutes after leaving North Vancouver because they were incorrectly set up to pull in the wrong direction.

Alarm bells did go off, but they did not notify the crew that the two locomotives in the middle of the train had shut down.

In turn, the crew did not pass the information on to a new crew that took over in Squamish because the train appeared to be working fine.

The train eventually started stalling on the steep grade and sharp curves nearing the bridge over the Cheakamus River, the report said

When another locomotive at the front of the train was powered up to prevent a stall, the light, empty cars behind 'stringlined,' pulling them over the inside rail of the curve, resulting in a derailment, the report said.

The safety board also found that CN Rail resumed operations of long trains in extreme mountain environments without a proper risk assessment and consideration of the value of local knowledge and experience.

"The Squamish Subdivision is one of the most challenging railway lines in Canada," said Wendy Tadros, head of the Transportation Safety Board, in a written statement.

"It is not like operating between Edmonton and Winnipeg, or even between Vancouver and Jasper. This is an extreme mountain environment with curves that are twice as sharp and grades more than twice as steep as on other CN main lines. There is no room for error."

A CN spokesman said the company is still reviewing the report. At the time of the accident, CN already had policies and procedures in place that, when properly followed and applied, prevent accidents like the derailment near Squamish, said spokesman Jim Feeney.

But because of current and potential legal action against CN, there will be no further comment from the company, he added.

The Transportation Safety Board is a government organization responsible for investigating transportation accidents. It does not find fault or recommend charges.


Compare Vancouver Sun's report under the July 11 headline:
No fish story: Chemical spill in river will benefit salmon.

Next day, July 12, a better story appeared in Vancouver Sun:


And in Vancouver Province - July 12, 2007

Two key engines were out of service before 144-car train de-railed: Report.
Vancouver Province
- July 12, 2007

Quote: Fowler said that after B.C. Rail was taken over by CN in 2004, the expertise on how to handle the mountainous terrain was lost. "With staff reductions it resulted in a loss of all that knowledge and expertise and it resulted in a lack of training and proper supervision that contributed to this accident," he said.

Read more:



Auditor should answer real questions about BC Rail deal


First printed Tuesday, January 13, 2004 on "Paying Attention"
and reprinted here by kind permission of the author.


By Paul Willcocks

VICTORIA - Judith Reid is right. The legislature raids don't mean the BC Rail sale should be stopped.

But taxpayers should still ask for an independent review by the province's auditor general.

Deal opponents got a boost when police raided the legislature offices of Reid's aide Bob Virk and Finance Minister Gary Collins' powerful assistant Dave Basi. Police also searched the office of Erik Bornman, a federal Liberal wheel and a lobbyist who worked for OmniTrax, one of the unsuccessful BC Rail bidders. Virk was heavily involved in the sale. Basi worked closely with Collins, who co-chaired the sale steering committee with Reid. Bornman's company lobbied both ministers.
That's all we know. And it's not enough to suggest wrongdoing, or any reason for delay.

But there are still questions about the deal, separate from the investigation. And given the likelihood of more asset sales, it makes sense to make sure this one was done right.

Premier Gordon Campbell points to a review of the sale by a U.S.-based consultant and says it provides all the answers. That review, by Charles River Associates, found the process was fair and the price paid for the railroad was toward the top of the range you would expect. It is, overall, a positive report.

But it also raised questions suggesting that the way the sale was handled could have been unfair and cost taxpayers' money.

And with all respect to the company, it was paid $300,000 for the review, and likely hopes for more work. Its expertise is unquestioned - the consultants have helped governments around the world auction off assets and establish markets. It's reputation is important. But it was still paid by the government.

The consultants' report raised several questions.

They found that the $750 million CN Rail paid for the company was at the top of the expected range - good news for taxpayers. But Charles River didn't do any in-depth review of the fairness of the $250 million CN Rail paid to acquire the past tax losses of CN. Taxpayers don't know if fair value was delivered.

The consultant also found significant leaks. One of the finalists leaked information in violation of confidentiality agreements.

Another public leak revealed BC Rail management's forecast of the effects of the sale on the company and communities. That politically embarrassing leak sparked a big internal review, complete with forensic auditors, to find the source.

And in a third leak, the consultant said, information was sent to someone who shouldn't have had it. The report is irritatingly unclear about details. It says only that the lawyers involved promised the documents were returned or shredded. But were they forgotten? Were they important? The consultant says no, but doesn't give enough facts to support the conclusion.

Finally, the consultant raises concerns about the basics of the deal. The Liberals said they would evaluate proposals based on price and a range of other factors, from economic development to job preservation to benefits for First Nations.

But the fairness review says it was really all about the money. CP Rail and Omnitrax - unsuccessful bidders - complained that they couldn't get a handle on what the government really wanted. They put more emphasis on the entire package. After the decision, they realized the auction really focused on price. If they had better information, they might have offered more money.

These are all real concerns. And to make sure the mistakes aren't repeated - and to determine if taxpayers got a fair price for the tax losses - the auditor general should be provided with the funding needed to review the deal.

That's a problem. The government has foolishly chopped the auditor general's funding, despite warnings that critical reviews would be sacrificed. (The Alberta auditor receives almost twice as much money.)

Restore the funding. Support the review. We need the information.


Thank you, Paul. Amazing, isn't it, how we're still waiting for so many of those answers. - BC Mary.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007


The RCMP Act is clear, said Annie


Lately, Canada has needed Anne McLellan back in Parliament. I hate to admit that I never much liked the lady. Something about the way she talks, starting many of her sentences with "In fact ..." as if whoever she's speaking to had just uttered such a preposterous stupidity that, "In fact, the truth is ..." Then gasping and over-emphasizing, as if reading from a big blackboard to very small children, she would state her irrefutable point of view. Maybe she really was reading from the great blackboard in her memories of being Assistant Dean of Law at University of Alberta (Edmonton).

There's no denying she took on tough assignments in the government of Canada, first as federal Minister of Justice for 5 years (1997-2002), then when Paul Martin was sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada on 12 December 2003, he named Anne McLellan his Deputy Prime Minister. In her spare time, Ms McLellan seemed to have no problem also administering the newly created Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, which now occupies Stockwell Day full-time.

So, like her or not, Anne McLellan has smarts of the kind we need right now with the RCMP under attack. She is someone worth paying attention to. So here's what she, as Minister of Justice, said one day in the House of Commons when the perennial subject came up of controlling the R.C.M.P. to prevent our ears being sullied ever again by discouraging public complaints about them. Here's Annie's brisk statement:

In fact, I would hope that nobody in this House would suggest that any government, of whatever stripe, should involve itself in the operational details of the national police force. There are too many shocking examples of other countries around the world where police forces end up being directed by governments or political parties, and it is not a democracy.

As far as I am concerned, the RCMP Act is clear. The administration and day to day operations of the force are left up to the commissioner and his officers, his assistant commissioners and others across the country.

But the big Question persists: does it make sense that the media is stomping all over the RCMP these days, while at the same time everyone is supposed to Support Our Troops in far-off Afghanistan? Why aren't we supporting our para-military RCMP troops here at home when we expect them to risk life and limb for us??

So yes to Public Inquiries when all else has fails. But yes, also, to the R.C.M.P. whose loyalty we count on every day.

The July 9 edition of CTV's "The Verdict" (available on-line) brought forth many important facts and factors relevant to the current disquiet in Houston B.C. Two points stood out:

* Paula Todd saying, before the interviews began, that as a lawyer she had known and worked with many R.C.M.P. and had the highest respect for the force in general. In my view, things have escalated to the point where that needs saying ... often.

* New information about the Ian Bush tragedy. Who knew that it was RCMP Constable Koester's lawyer who forbade him being interviewed for 3 months? And that Koester's civil rights guaranteed him that right to remain silent? And it was Koester's lawyer who demanded the questions in writing before he allowed his client to speak?

Then Todd said, "In my experience, when the RCMP wanted something, they got it." And that's when they described Ontario's S.I.U. Unit -- an independent group -- which would've been called in immediately to sort this out.

What, then, would Anne McLellan say about anybody trying to discredit the whole RCMP in general, over any single unresolved tragedy? It's fair to ask,also: isn't it possible that some people would like to see RCMP testimony in upcoming trials also being discredited?

In fact ... don't they always say "Support the Troops"? I figure that includes our domestic para-military troops. The Royal Canadian Legion certainly includes the RCMP in its ranks.

Anne McLellan wouldn't say this, but I think that either we stop harassing the whole national police force, or maybe we should forget about calling 911 ever again.


Monday, July 09, 2007


Next hearing - only 7 days away


Hearings resume Vancouver Supreme Courtroom 54, Mon. July 16

The trial of Her Majesty the Queen vs Basi, Virk, Basi is the most important trial ever launched in British Columbia. On the surface, it asks the question: were 3 high-level government employees guilty of criminal acts during the auctioning-off of B.C. Rail?

To produce the correct verdict, this trial will have to answer deeper questions: under what circumstances can a government auction off a vital public asset which is a large segment of the provincial infrastructure? What was the protocol? Was the "sale" of B.C. Rail legal?

At least 7 distinct factions are facing off in B.C. Supreme Court:

1) The Judge, the lone figure to whom all evidence and all questions are directed, from whom all decisions and the verdict must eventually come. This method of being tried by a judge alone rather than by a jury of their peers was the choice of the accused. At issue on July 16: Judge Bennett has set this as a deadline for Crown to produce all documents requested by the Defence.

2) The prosecution team. These Crown lawyers must explain the charges and present a convincing case as to why the three men should be found guilty. Special Prosecutors were appointed by the B.C. Attorney General but there have been accusations by defence attorneys that the Bill Berardino, prosecution team leader, has not been as neutral as he should be with the Crown's star witness, Erik Bornmann.

3) The defence team hired by the accused: Basi, Virk, Basi, will challenge every accusation of wrongdoing and will search out every breach of law on the part of the Prosecution team and the RCMP so as to present the three accused men in the best possible light. The defence lawyers' job is to create doubt that the 3 accused men are guilty. In doing so, they may seek to point the finger of guilt at other players.

4) The Accused: Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, Aneal Basi, former top-rank government employees working in the Ministry of Finance and Government House leader, and the Ministry of Transportation.

5) The government, although officially silent, will have their every action pertaining to the auction of B.C. Rail laid out for public scrutiny, to be debated under oath. This is a power factor in everything pertaining to the sale of B.C. Rail.

6) The Public will be hearing many important facts for the first time. The public is welcome to sit silently in Courtroom 54 and listen. Or they can take their chances on finding 600-word fragments of the courtroom proceedings in print or broadcast news. But the best answer would be: TV Cameras transmitting the trial on the B.C. government TV channel so as to let the public see all the witnesses and hear all the evidence, day by day, week by week.

The BCRail trial may last 6 months. Every British Columbian had a stake in B.C. Rail. but many of the people most acutely affected by changes to B.C. Rail live in central and northern B.C., and have ongoing issues with their railway service. They can't possibly afford the time and expense of attending court in Vancouver. Televised courtroom proceedings would be an immense upgrade in civic awareness. There are precedents:

A single camera was allowed into B.C. Supreme Court for the trial of 9 South Korean men charged with people smuggling. "The experiment went well," said the presiding judge.

Also: Supreme Courtroom 20, the so-called Air India courtroom, has video monitors for evidence presentation, voice-activated video cameras, direct broadcast of proceedings to other locations in the courthouse (and presumably onto the Legislature Channel), digital recording and video conferencing.

In other words, B.C. Supreme Court at 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, is already set up to allow TV to carry the BC Rail trial to every citizen of British Columbia. See photo:

The B.C. Rail Trial meets the highest test of the public's need to know the facts of its own government. This trial should be televised.

7) The media. Journalists representing newspapers and TV will attend but the public never knows how many journalists will show up, when they'll be in court, what their "take" will be on the trial, how neutral they are, or how they will report the testimony. Televised hearings would be an enormous help in understanding this.

Will there be in-depth coverage of each day's testimony -- especially available to the northern areas once served by B.C. Rail? Will there be a genuine effort made by the media to clarify what transactions led to the auctioning-off of B.C. Rail?

It could be the journalists' dream come true to have courtroom TV filling in the daily background to their in-depth reports.


Sunday, July 08, 2007


Christy Clark on "impartial inquiries"

Christy Clark, former deputy Premier to Gordon Campbell at the time of the police raids on the B.C. Legislature, is suddenly a journalist or something? Or a lawyer? An RCMP specialist? Even an elected official? Nope. None of the above.

So is she stepping up to the podium on the eve of the B.C. Rail trial trying to change the subject, with this sweetly concerned attack on the R.C.M.P.? I think so.

Ms Clark hasn't provided one scintilla of new information about the Ian Bush Inquest. Every comment is taken from the already-published work of other journalists [without credit]. If anybody else had submitted such a piece of journalism, they'd have been laughed off CanWest's premises.

So what's this all about, anyway? - BC Mary.


Christy Clark: RCMP's Bush investigation requires impartial inquiry

Christy Clark,
Special to The Province
Published: Sunday, July 08, 2007

The case of Ian Bush, who died while in police custody, should lead us all to one inescapable conclusion: The RCMP cannot be allowed to investigate themselves.

The inquest into Bush's death has given us a glimpse into the unique process the RCMP uses to investigate one of its own. The fact that Mr. Bush was killed is tragic. The way the RCMP conducted their investigation into his death is cause for alarm.

Ian Bush was just 22 in 2005 when he was shot in the back of the head by a rookie RCMP officer in Houston, B.C.

The officer stopped Bush outside the local hockey arena because he had an open beer. When the cop asked his name, the young millworker jokingly gave a fake one.

Bush hadn't had any serious brushes with the law. He lived with his mom, helped her pay the mortgage and paid part of his sister's college tuition too.

He wasn't pleased when Const. Paul Koester arrested him for his small transgressions that night. According to witnesses, the two exchanged words, but there was no hint of violence. Unfortunately, there are no witnesses to what happened next. The two were alone at the station when 20 minutes after they arrived, Bush was killed.

Const. Koester tells it this way: He was releasing the young man when Bush attacked. He wrestled Koester face down onto the couch, lay on top of him and started strangling him.

Koester says he was on the verge of passing out when he managed to reach around to his holster and grab his gun.

He somehow got his arm behind Bush's head, before slamming his gun into the back of his head three times and shooting him dead.

An independent blood-spatter expert, who is also an Edmonton police officer, told the inquest it would have been "physically impossible" to create the blood stains found at the scene if Koester had been underneath Bush.

He says it's more likely that Koester was on top, holding Bush down, when the gun went off. That testimony isn't the only thing that will undermine public confidence in the investigation.

The RCMP gave Const. Koester 18 days to consult his lawyers about his version of events before they got his carefully-prepared statement.

Then, they gave him a further three months before interviewing him about it. And before that, they supplied Koester with a list of the questions they intended to ask. So there weren't too many surprises.

It's not exactly the kind of interrogation you'd expect in a case where a man took a deadly bullet in the back of the head. But it is exactly the kind of investigation that the RCMP have become well known for when it comes to one of their own.

Ian Bush is dead. His family deserves the answers that can only come from an independent inquiry into how the investigation was handled. That at least might give them some peace.

The rest of us deserve the peace of mind that can only come from knowing the RCMP is no longer accorded the privilege of investigating itself.


Agreed, Ms Clark, the family of Ian Bush deserves that. But there's something more you should care about: the rest of us deserve the peace of mind which will come only from an independent, impartial inquiry into a matter you know a lot more about, namely, how the publicly-owned B.C. Rail was auctioned off.

Let the media begin calling for an independent Public Inquiry into that. Let the calls begin now. Let the Public Inquiry get under way as soon as the Basi Virk Basi trial ends, no matter how it ends. OK?


Saturday, July 07, 2007


CTA rules against CN railway


In a huge country like Canada, the railways are critically important. Confederation was made possible by our railways. We've always known that. But sometimes we wonder why B.C. Rail (now part of CN) was so important. Here's a snippet of news which reminds us of a railway's nation-building capabilities as well as the threat implied by TILMA if it succeeds in imposing future corporate wishes over provincial decisions. - BC Mary


Victoria Times Colonist - July 7, 2007

... Rail service is a frequent sore spot for the Canadian grain industry, which ships its produce to ports that are more than 1,000 kilometres from the key Prairie growing region.

Canadian law compels CN and Canadian Pacific Railway to provide adequate service to shippers.

Rail car allocation used to be jointly set through an industry group, but in recent years it has become more directly negotiated with individual grain companies.

Railways have focused on serving large elevators on their east-west pipeline to try to make the complex grain handling system more efficient, said James Nolan, a transportation economist at the University of Saskatchewan.

But CN went too far with its current program, Nolan said, becoming what the CTA called "the arbiter of which of its captive shippers are eligible for a competitive advantage."


Friday, July 06, 2007


Getting to wonder ... who else?

Vancouver Supreme Courtroom 54 has been booked for 6 months to cover the Basi Virk Basi trial. So there will be many witnesses called ... witnesses we don't know about yet. For example, there were 32 uniformed sergeants who raided the B.C. Legislature ... so we can expect testimony from the R.C.M.P. and Victoria Police. There must also be elected members of government,
B.C. Rail, OmniTRAX and CP personnel, as well as clerks, media officers, drivers, waiters, and others ready to testify under oath as to what they saw and heard about the B.C. Rail auction. But apart from the accused, Basi, Virk, Basi, we don't know all their names except for these two whose testimony appears to be essential:

Today: the R.C.M.P. witnesses

Kevin deBruyckere as team commander of the Basi Virk Basi investigation, was allegedly biased because his brother-in-law, Kelly Reichert, was executive director of the B.C. Liberal party and worked with Finance Minister Gary Collins and Premier Gordon Campbell.

deBruyckere (then RCMP Staff Sergeant) never disclosed his relationship with Reichert to his superiors until March 1, 2004, the defence lawyer told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

deBruyckere should have disclosed the relationship in late 2003, when he was making decisions about the investigation and Reichert was detected calling Dave Basi to discuss Liberal party business in a phone call taped by police, the lawyer said.

The lawyer also alleged that Reichert tipped off the premier on June 24, 2004, that the investigation was going to result in criminal charges. He implied that deBruyckere must have told Reichert this.

Special Prosecutor Janet Winteringham also refuted earlier defence allegations that deBruyckere had steered the police investigation towards Basi and Virk and away from Collins because deBruyckere's brother-in-law is B.C. Liberal Party executive director Kelly Reichert.

In fact, Winteringham argued, deBruyckere (now an Inspector) believed Collins was under investigation, while other RCMP investigators felt he was not.

Staff Sgt Bud Bishop, a 32-year member of the RCMP, who discovered he had more notes in one of two note books he kept during the Basi-Virk-Basi investigation. Some of the new notes relate to John Preissell, who has already testified about a phone call in the spring of 2003 from Kieran, who "threatened me three or four times" not to embarrass then-finance minister Gary Collins.

He said he complained about Kieran's threats to two RCMP officers, including Bishop, in January 2005, after hearing Kieran's name being linked to an investigation of the BC Rail bidding process.

Sgt Bishop's name is familiar as the man who executed the Search Warrants on former premier Glen Clark's home and testified at the trial which found Clark innocent.

A memorable quote from Anne McLellan, former Minister of Justice, during debate in the House of Commons, Ottawa:

In fact, I would hope that nobody in this House would suggest that any government, of whatever stripe, should involve itself in the operational details of the national police force. There are too many shocking examples of other countries around the world where police forces end up being directed by governments or political parties, and it is not a democracy.

As far as I am concerned, the RCMP Act is clear. The administration and day to day operations of the force are left up to the commissioner and his officers, his assistant commissioners and others across the country.


Thursday, July 05, 2007


Getting to know you ...


Some people have been named as witnesses for the prosecution in the Basi Virk Basi trial. And one has actually been sworn in and has testified. They are:

* Gary Collins, B.C. Liberal Minister of Finance, whose friendship with Dave Basi dates from before the 2001 election. Once elected and named to a cabinet position, he personally and immediately appointed Basi as his top-rank aide and was the only Cabinet Minister to do so, before the premier's Chief of Staff, Martyn Brown, issued a directive saying that all other staff would be chosen by the premier's office.

* Judith Reid, B.C. Liberal Minister of Transportation during the sale of B.C. Rail, whose top ministerial aide was Bobby Virk. See photo:
Aneal Basi also worked in the Transport Ministry.

* Pilothouse Public Affairs Group partners were lobbying the BC government on matters concerning B.C. Rail:

Erik Bornmann, Director of operations in B.C. for the Paul Martin leadership campaign; a partner in Pilothouse Public Affairs Group. Alleged to have paid $30,000. to Dave Basi for information on B.C.Rail "auction" which could allegedly help his client, OmniTRAX, also bidding on BC Rail.

Brian Kieran, a former political columnist with The Province newspaper, and his partner Erik Bornman, were allegedly making routine payments to Udhe (Dave) Singh Basi, who was an assistant to then finance minister Gary Collins, and to Bobby Singh Virk, who was an assistant to then transportation minister Judith Reid and Basi's brother-in-law, "in connection with a matter of business relating to the government."

Basi's cousin, Aneal Basi, a communications officer in the transportation ministry, was also charged for allegedly accepting payments from Pilothouse and transferring the money to Dave Basi.

One of Pilothouse's clients at the time was OmniTRAX, which was competing with CN Rail to buy BC Rail owned by the province. In 2004, BC Rail went to CN for $1 billion.

But neither Kieran nor Bornman has been charged.
[From: Voice Online]

When Brian Kieran resigned as senior partner, he handed Pilothouse (renamed K & E Public Affairs) over to: Jamie Elmhirst. Then the K&E Public Affairs Inc. company closed its doors.

Jamie Elmhirst, Liberal Party President for B.C. and provincial lobbyist , active also in the Campbell Liberal Party. Recently resigned, before his July 2007 wedding. Elmhirst and partner Brian Kieran had a police search warrant served at their Victoria offices in the Basi/Virk case, likely because of Erik Bornman's role in their firm until the raid.

John Preissell. Kevin McCullough, defence lawyer for Dave Basi, made sustained arguments that the RCMP has "tailored" its investigation in order to steer it away from elected politicians and towards Basi and Virk. Because this may be pivotal in the Basi Virk Basi case, let's turn to Bill Tieleman's account of the surprise witness, John Preissell, who made an unexpected telephone call to McCullough on Sunday 29 April. Bill writes in The Tyee: Preissell, it turns out, had contacted RCMP in January 2005 to offer information he had about the role of provincial lobbyist Brian Kieran in the case. And after speaking to McCullough, Preissell made a surprise appearance in the courtroom Monday to give evidence.

Preissell told the court in sworn testimony as the case's unscheduled and first witness that the RCMP "didn't seem too interested" when he contacted them about Kieran, who is one of the Crown's key witnesses against the defendants.

McCullough found that amazing because first of all, special prosecutor Bill Berardino had never disclosed the Preissell tip to the defence.

And second, because Preissell testified under oath that Kieran had threatened him over a planned public campaign against Gary Collins about Insurance Corporation of B.C. issues. Collins was minister responsible then and Preissell at that time was owner of an auto body and glass repair shop having "red tape" trouble with ICBC.

"The bottom line was he [Kieran] threatened me repeatedly and said if we didn't back off of Mr. Collins we wouldn't get what we wanted," Preissell alleged. "I was actually afraid, I was very afraid."

Preissell said that at the time of the threat in the spring of 2003 he was a member of a group of the Auto Glass Survival Coalition and that another industry group he had been involved with had hired Kieran as a lobbyist.

"Kieran offered to work for the Coalition for free to embarrass ICBC but not to embarrass the minister of finance," Preissell testified.

When I contacted Kieran and read him Preissell's statement he declined comment. "As per the past three years, I've been advised by my attorney that I should wait until I'm in court to say my piece," said Kieran, a longtime Victoria political columnist for The Province newspaper before becoming a lobbyist.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Getting to know you ...


For Dave Basi:

P. Michael Bolton, Q.C
(Called to the Bar 1 October 1969)
Claire Hatcher
Firm: Bolton & Muldoon
Vancouver, B.C.

For Bobby Virk:

Kevin McCullough
(Called to the Bar 14 May 1993)
Kristy Sim
Firm: McCullough Blazina Dieno
Victoria, B.C.

For Aneal Basi:

Joseph M. Doyle
(Called to the Bar 1 September 1989)
Firm: Johnson Doricic Doyle
Vancouver, B.C.

And for a rainy afternoon when you have some free time to explore:

Just for discussion purposes, let's try the math: how many lawyers on this Basi Virk Basi case? how much per hour? how many hours? and who pays?

There are 3 lawyers on the prosecution team + 5 lawyers for the defence = 8 lawyers, at a very minimum, undoubtedly more, such as George Copley and Clark Roberts up front, and probably dozens behind the scenes who are labouring to find, sort, gather and deliver those thousands of documents for Disclosure.

How much will this cost? And who will pay? - BC Mary


Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Getting to know you ...

Today: William S. Berardino, Special Prosecutor and his team.

Bill Berardino was appointed as Special Prosecutor on Dec. 11, 2003 at the request of the RCMP to the criminal justice branch. Special prosecutors are appointed in cases where there is a significant potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of justice, the Attorney General Geoff Plant said.

Bill Berardino is a member of the Hunter Litigation Chambers established in 2006 as a "litigation boutique" (14 members) formed by the merger of Berardino and Harris with Hunter Voith Litigation Counsel which practices in the following areas of law: Civil and Criminal Litigation, Arbitration and Administrative Law. The firm practices exclusively in the field of litigation and dispute resolution. [From]

W. S. Berardino, Q.C. was born Vancouver, British Columbia,
July 29, 1940; admitted to bar, 1966, British Columbia; 1987, Yukon Territory.

Education: University of British Columbia (B.A., 1962; LL.B., 1965). Member, British Columbia Law Reform Committee. Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers. Practice Areas: Appellate Practice; Class Actions; Litigation; Product Liability; Professional Liability; Mediation; Criminal. Email: W. S. Berardino, Q.C.

Also on the Basi Virk Basi Prosecution Team: Andrea N. MacKay (Associate) born Vancouver, British Columbia, May 8, 1975; admitted to bar, 2000, British Columbia. Education: University of British Columbia (LL.B., 1999). Practice Areas: Appellate Practice; Class Actions; Litigation; Product Liability; Professional Liability; Mediation; Criminal. Email: Andrea N. MacKay

And: David C. Harris
Senior commercial barrister with Hunter Litigation Chambers, best known for acting for tobacco companies when they were sued by B.C. Government (Prosecution led by Tom Berger). David Harris is a graduate of Oxford University (Ph.D.) and UBC law. He practised 13 years with Russell & DuMoulin before forming the "litigation boutique" of Berardino & Harris in 2000 now called Hunter Litigation Chambers. Harris is also director of European business development for Russell/DuMoulin with expansion plans that will encompass Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Hard to believe one person can do all this and give attention to Basi, Virk, Basi, BCRail but see for yourself at:

And: David St Pierre who, before becoming a respected trial lawyer, was a high school football and basketball star, musician (recording, performing and touring with the likes of the Ramones, Iggy Pop, the Wailers, Buju Banton and more) and actor.

David St. Pierre attended Law School at the University of Calgary. He was fortunate to be among the last class to be allowed to specialize in Criminal Law (he spent an entire semester in an intensive criminal law practicum program).

Upon graduation Mr. St. Pierre articled in Vancouver with an accomplished criminal defence lawyer. In 1998 he joined the firm of Cobb & Co. (now Cobb St. Pierre Lewis), working closely with senior counsel, Neil Cobb and defending hundreds of accused persons against the allegations made against them. He has a keen interest in the law relating to search and seizure, drugs and driving.

Mr. St. Pierre defends people charged with all kinds of offences, such as extradition matters, property and currency seizures and money laundering allegations.

And: Special Prosecutor Janet Winteringham, who Bill Tieleman described as "taking the lead for senior Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino, who is inexplicably absent from the entire hearing to date, gave for the first time a detailed accounting of what documents the Crown says were leaked by Basi and Virk to Bornmann and Kieran of Pilothouse Public Affairs, the lobby firm retained by OmniTRAX for nearly $300,000.

"Basi and Virk provided Mr. Bornmann with information from May 2002 to December 2003," Winteringham began and then outlined what else RCMP say they found and where.

It may be that early legal arguments will centre upon the Bornmann testimony when defence lawyers allege that the Crown has deliberately refused to disclose details of a secret immunity agreement with key Crown witness Erik Bornmann.

The lawyer for Virk, alleged in BC Supreme Court that Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino actually cancelled an immunity deal with Bornmann after the former provincial lobbyist implicated in the BC Rail deal told media he had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the RCMP and Special Prosecutor.

But McCullough says that ultimately the deal was not terminated and alleged that both the RCMP and the Special Prosecutor allowed Bornmann to falsely claim he had been exonerated in order to continue his highly-paid business lobbying the Gordon Campbell government for corporate clients. McCullough alleged that Bornmann's statement to media that he had been exonerated was false.

"Mr. Bornmann had bribed public officials, had made submissions that he had committed criminal offences," McCullough alleged ... also that the Special Prosecutor had been "stonewalling" all defence requests for details about the deal, why it was apparently cancelled in a phone message to Bornmann's lawyer and why despite knowing Bornmann had not been cleared neither the RCMP nor Berardino corrected the record.

"When the Special Prosecutor chose to cut the immunity deal with Mr. Bornmann they were obligated to disclose the details," McCullough said. "It's an absolute stonewall to providing that information."

On Tuesday in court Janet Winteringham, Berardino's associate, had objected to McCullough's characterization of Berardino's conduct in the case, saying it amounted to an allegation of "prosecutorial misconduct."

So ... sparks may fly in this area of the Basi, Virk, Basi trial and if the missing Bill Berardino doesn't reappear in Courtroom 54 when the hearings resume, it will likely be Ms Winteringham who leads off for the Crown.

Meantime, it's interesting to note where and how Bill Berardino entered into the Basi Virk Basi scene right from the beginning - and before the beginning:

CBC News Online | September 14, 2004

On Dec. 28, 2003, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Victoria police raided two offices in the British Columbia legislature.

Police said little about the investigation at the time of the raid, only that it was based on information uncovered during a probe of the drug trade and organized crime.

The warrants the police used to raid the legislature were sealed and media lawyers, including those representing the CBC, applied to have them unsealed.

In March 2004, a B.C. judge released a summary of the sealed warrants, which said the police were investigating a possible breach of trust in the sale of B.C. Rail.

No charges have been laid in connection with the raids.


June 5, 2001 - A month after the Liberals sweep the B.C. provincial election, David Basi is named ministerial assistant to Finance Minister Gary Collins. Bob Virk becomes ministerial assistant to Transportation Minister Judith Reid.

April 2002 - RCMP and Victoria police launch a joint investigation involving schemes to trade B.C. marijuana for cocaine. The investigation also looks into organized crime and possible police corruption.

March 2003 - David Basi buys a house in Shawingan Lake, B.C., as a rental property.

Fall 2003 - Nine people are arrested in Victoria, Vancouver and Toronto as part of a 20-month investigation into drugs and organized crime. No one is formally charged.

Dec. 1, 2003 - B. C. Attorney General Geoff Plant is told by his staff that a case requires the appointment of a special prosecutor and may involve a search of the B.C. legislature.

Dec. 7, 2003 - Mandeep Sandhu is elected to the executive of the Liberals in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca.

Dec. 9, 2003 - Police raid Mandeep Sandhu's home in Saanich. Police question Sandhu and seize a computer. Sandhu is later released. No charges are laid.

Dec. 11, 2003 - William Berardino is appointed special prosecutor to oversee an investigation involving a member of the Victoria police and appointees at the legislature.

Dec. 15, 2003 - Constable Ravinder Dosanjh is suspended with pay by Victoria police in connection with an ongoing investigation. Police Chief Paul Battershill later says the suspension is connected to a drug investigation and the raids at the legislature.

Dec. 27, 2003 - B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman calls Premier Gordon Campbell, who is on vacation in Hawaii, to tell the premier to expect an important call in the next days. Coleman says later he did not give Campbell any details.

Dec. 28, 2003 - RCMP and Victoria police execute nine search warrants at seven locations across the province, including two offices in the B.C. legislature.