Tuesday, October 30, 2007


$91,000. over 4 years = $22,750. a year.

Perhaps it needs repeating: BC Mary is not a supporter of any political party which is not on people's side ... and that includes just about all political parties, all the time. I post the following story only because I feel as if there's something amiss - not with Victoria Police Chief Battershill - but with the way he is being treated and reported this past month.

Look twice and it's the headline (below) that's alarming. It's saying: the Police Chief at the site of a historic, delicate policing situation where close liaison might be extremely important is adopting a different way of holding those meetings: over a meal, in a pointedly public place.

Compare Paul Battershill with Blair Wilson, MP for West Vancouver, who resigned from the Liberal Caucus yesterday. Wilson, the Revenue Critic for the federal Liberals, was an accountant who left a trail of debt and controversy through his careers as a businessman, restaurateur and politician, and who allegedly ran a campaign - even paying staff - using cash [cash?!] and did not report all his spending. Quite a different track record from Paul Battershill who is now the subject of headlines for what? for business meetings held over lunch or dinner in public restaurants for which he was up-front with his presentation of receipts. I'm uneasy about the sly divulging of information while Battershill is left isolated.

It's offensive the way CanWest rhymes off every violation listed under the B.C. Police Act code-of-professional-conduct regulations, not quite -- but almost -- suggesting that Chief Battershill stands accused of them all. Not fair play, CanWest. Not serving the public good.

The key issue here, in my opinion, is that Paul Battershill was co-leader of the Legislature Raids -- so important to this province -- but clearly presenting a threat to others. Can we rule out the possibility that it may simply be convenient to try to discredit the Victoria Police Chief at this point in B.C. history? - BC Mary.


Victoria police chief charged more than $91,000 since 2004

Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, October 29, 2007

Victoria Police Chief Paul Battershill's credit card transactions since Jan. 1, 2004, total more than $91,000 on restaurants, hotels, travel, books, even Kleenex, documents released today show.

The figures were made public by the Victoria Police in response to Freedom of Information requests by lawyer David Mulroney, acting for an unnamed client. They do not show any obvious link to allegations of misconduct against Battershill, who is being investigated by the RCMP at the request of Police Complaint Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld.

Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe has described the allegations as a "personnel issue." But according to Public Bodies Information reports, Battershill's employment-related expenses for that time period total $59,385 - a total of $11,748 in 2004, $18,000 in 2005 and $20,637 for 2006.

The incomplete expenses for 2007 are close to $9,000. Some credit card charges were assigned to other accounts and small personal transactions were reimbursed by the chief. Mulroney had asked for information on such matters as the chief's expenses, severance payments and the cost of external investigations.

Costs related to the latter were released today, but Victoria Police said information about severance payments could not be released without the consent of the people involved. More information could be available by mid-December.

Battershill was placed on administrative leave by the Victoria police board Oct. 11. He is also the subject of the Police Act investigation ordered by Ryneveld. Under the B.C. Police Act code-of-professional-conduct regulations, these violations include abuse of authority, discreditable conduct, neglect of duty, deceit, corrupt practice and improper disclosure of information.

Some of the expenses revealed today relate to work Battershill was asked to do by Ryneveld. Close to $3,000 is related to his investigation of Const. Lisa Alford of the West Vancouver Police Department, which will be reimbursed by that department. Other expenses relate to Battershill's involvement in the Victoria police department's review of the Taser.

Of the $40,000 in expenses, $16,000 has been reimbursed by the province. The documents show that Battershill conducts business meetings with Victoria police officers over meals and uses the credit card to pay for those meals. The chief has often had two meals in different Victoria restaurants for himself and for his guests in the same day. His guests also include Lowe, chairman of the police board and members of the police board, who approve his expenses.

Most often, his guests include senior officers from the department, but he's picked up the tab for a number of rank and file officers. Group meetings have been held at Fifth Street Bar and Grill, the Malahat Mountain Inn and Swan's.

In 2005, the last time police were included in public bodies information reports, Saanich police chief Derek Egan's expenses totalled $11,769. Retired Oak Bay Police Chief Ben Andersen's expenses were $7,487.

Victoria police financial controller Scott Sievewright and Freedom of Information officer Debra Taylor could not be reached for comment on expenses incurred by police employees.

Victoria's assistant city manager Mike McCliggott said it is an exception to the city policy to reimburse elected officials and employees for dining out expenditures unless traveling out of town on city business.

However it is recognized that elected officials and certain employees, as representatives of the City of Victoria, will occasionally be expected or required to expense dining out as part of their official duties and functions.



Liberal party awaits probe after MP leaves caucus
Elections Canada investigates West Vancouver's Blair Wilson



And this curve-ball, for future reference:

In the buzz about the fuzz, where's the beef against the chief?

And if Battershill regains Victoria's top police job after all this turmoil, will the department be too torn by dissension to lay down the law?

Jack Knox
CanWest News Service - Tuesday, October 30, 2007

So, here is the big question still hanging out there: What exactly are the allegations against Victoria police Chief Paul Battershill?

And if this has turned into a palace coup, the chief dealing with dissent within his own department, how can everyone go back to working together if and when he returns to the job? {Snip} ...

[David] Mulroney [failed B.C. Liberal candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands] hasn't said who his client is. Victoria developer Gerald Hartwig doggedly refuses to either confirm or deny that he is behind it all.

Hartwig is not, however, reticent to talk about the issues he believes are behind the FOI requests (you know, the ones that may or may not be his). In a nutshell, he contends that the department is wasting money that could be devoted to policing downtown.

Hartwig is tight with many people within the Victoria police. He attends the department's annual Christmas get-together to which politicians, media and others are invited, and has even been known to join cops on their coffee breaks at Paul's Motor Inn in the wee hours of the morning.

So is Hartwig, if he is the Mystery Client, being backed by his buddies in the department? No, he says, adding that if the cops have bones to pick with Battershill, they differ from his own.

Which brings us to the closed-door session involving the senior officers and the police board. What was said isn't being divulged. Nor is it clear whether the officers drove the process or were merely sucked into it. But since it ended in Battershill being parked on the shelf, the assumption is that any subsequent working relationship would be sorely tested.

It has been a pretty dramatic reversal of fortunes for Battershill, who arrived in Victoria from the Vancouver police in June 1999 with a reputation as an able administrator with both political moxie and street cred. (He had served on the emergency-response team in Vancouver -- had, in fact, seen his friend Sgt. Larry Young shot dead by a drug dealer who, having been listening to a police scanner, was waiting with an assault rifle when they burst into his basement suite in 1987.) If a bit of turmoil followed Battershill's arrival in Victoria, with five senior officers departing within his first 18 months, it was argued that the department needed a shakeup.

He was also frequently rumoured to be on the fast track for bigger and better things. Last year, when Victoria needed a temporary city manager, it was Battershill who got the tap on the shoulder from Mayor Alan Lowe. In 2005, he came close to heading the Edmonton police force, while earlier, persistent rumours linked his name to the chief's job back in Vancouver.

In the early 1990s, he worked closely with Judge Wally Oppal on a report -- Closing The Gap -- that became the bible of policing across Canada; when Oppal became a cabinet minister, many thought Battershill would end up as his right-hand man. In 2003, Battershill said he was approached about running for the leadership of the New Democratic Party in B.C. There was also speculation that if the Liberals ever did force the amalgamation of Greater Victoria's police departments, he would become chief of the new regional force.

Instead, the question now is whether he will ever return to the department as it exists, and, if he does, how it will function?




From Times Colonist story today 31 Oct 07:

" ... Reached yesterday in Thailand, [Mayor Alan] Lowe defended Battershill's expenses.

"The nature of expenses have not been an issue with the police board as the chief's expenses are a matter of public information. Paul had numerous breakfast and lunch meetings which he paid for on his expense account. This is appropriate as he was conducting VPD business during those occasions," he wrote in an e-mail.

He added "these kinds of expenses are not defined in any contract, but you use common sense to determine if they are appropriate."

Meanwhile, police board vice-chairman Chris Clement said the board doesn't normally see the chief's detailed expense accounts, although the board approves the police department's budget. Clement said there is no clear policy on expenses, but said it is something the board should consider.


So why are we discussing every little item on the front page of Victoria Times Colonist in such detail? Just asking. - BC Mary

My personal favourite:
Times Colonist Letter-to-the-Editor, 31 October 2007


Re: "Chief's credit card bill tops $91,000 since '04," Oct. 30.

The Halloween witch hunt certainly started early this year. I am referring, of course, to the overblown tempest in a teapot over Victoria police Chief Paul Battershill's credit-card use and all the other mud being thrown. Your headline is one example of how this all seems so petty. Broken down by year, the expenses become insignificant for someone in such a position.

So what's the big deal? This man is being paid a pittance, $147,000 a year plus some minor expenses. Nowhere did your article mention if these credit-card expenses also cover the period where he acted as temporary city manager in 2006, when his expenses were some $20,000, the highest of any year. If you accept that Chief Battershill is a professional police chief representing a major city then an appropriate salary with an equally appropriate expense account is part of the package.

Victoria prides itself on being an internationally recognized city, but this whole incident reveals how small-minded and provincial it really is.

Chief Battershill, I am sorry you are being subjected to such nitpicking. It is unworthy of the position you have attained. Maybe Victoria really needs the Sheriff of Mayberry if they can't rise above that level.

Pamela Jackson,


John's Noodle Village & BC Mary tip our toques to you, Pamela.


Saturday, October 27, 2007


10,000 drug-related pages

Those 10,000 drug-related pages mentioned yesterday in the Basi Virk hearing got me thinking ... wondering about the near-forgotten name of the person allegedly suspected of being the new "Mr Big" in West Coast crime.

The report on pre-trial proceedings in Courtroom 64 yesterday included a comment about the Prosecution delivering 10,000 pages of drug-related documents to the Defence lawyers only a few days ago. Naturally, the Defence lawyers demanded to know how they could analyse a total of 25,000 pages and be ready for their next court appearance on November 16 ... or 23rd ... or December 3.

But (I kept thinking) why are drug-related documents in the Basi Virk Basi / BC Rail trial re-surfacing now? Weren't the original charges against Dave Basi stayed, presumably because the tenants in his rental property were the ones allegedly growing marijuana. But Defence is seeking the drug documents now ... and it got me searching for information about that man called Bains.

Jasmohan Singh Bains.

Did you know that the raid on the B.C. Legislature in 2003 stemmed from information gathered during a drug investigation which targeted "the criminal activities of Jasmohan Singh Bains and his associates"? And that one of Bain's associates was alleged to be his cousin, Dave Basi?

"The Crown alleges Bains was the head of a Victoria-based criminal organization
that was shipping kilograms of cocaine to the Toronto area. The money was then shipped back by Federal Express in vacuum-sealed bags stuffed with fabric softeners to 'disguise' the contents." [Island drug investigation led to raid on the B.C. legislature. By Neal Hall, CanWest News Services. April 06, 2007]

20 kg. of cocaine were seized by police during a 3-month period ending December 2003. Police also intercepted courier shipments of cash, including one shipment of $189,000., which police learned through wiretap was from the sale of 5 kg of cocaine in Toronto.

Police learned through wiretap

" ... Jasmohan Bains ... was charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine after police seized 2 kg of cocaine on Dec. 3, 2003 in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto between Sept. 19 and Dec. 9, 2003.

So this is the "Jas Bains" who allegedly made 26 calls to Dave Basi at work during the summer of 2003, the calls being picked up on the RCMP wire taps.

Bulk trafficking cocaine & marijuana

And RCMP were investigating "bulk" trafficking in cocaine and marijuana [in] December (2003) when they executed the federal drug warrants linked to the legislature raids. What could possibly have led the police into the Ministry of Finance except those wire-tapped cell-phone calls from a suspected Mr Big?

Crown prosecutor Janet Winteringham said in Supreme Court in May 2007: "The Victoria drug investigation began in May 2002 after the arrest in the U.S. of Cirilio Lopez which resulted in word on the street indicating Bains was going to take over Lopez's drug operations," Winteringham said.

Tips from an informant suggested [Dave] Basi was laundering money for Bains by purchasing real estate," Winteringham said.

"After a wiretap operation was in place for the drug case, police overheard Basi discussing B.C. Rail matters." ["Drug link alleged in Basi case". Times Colonist - May 08, 2007]

The trial of Jasmohan Singh Bains is scheduled for 2008 in Victoria.

Jeff Rud (Times Colonist, 16 Sept 2004) says: The names of Mandeep Sandhu and Jasmohan Bains were also listed in search warrant information ... related to the non-drug investigations that are central to the raid on the legislature offices.

Dave Basi had recommended Mandeep Sandhu to the Liberal Party Constituency of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. Sandhu was later charged with possession and trafficking of marijuana. Sandhu's cousin, Constable Ravinder Dosanjh, was charged and found guilty of breach of trust for advising Sandhu to evade discussion of the $34,000. seized from his Saanich home. Charges against Sandhu were stayed but he forfeited the cash. So there were links "Everywhichway" indeed.

But Mr Big might be a different kettle of fish. If Dave Basi was linked to Mr Big and if Dave Basi was taking routine underworld business calls in the B.C. Ministry of Finance, the province is in far deeper doo-doo than I had previously realized.

Those 10,000 drug-related pages could hold explosive evidence surrounding the sale of B.C. Rail. "There are certain documents that may have an impact on certain cabinet ministers and we may have to pursue those documents," McCullough said. [Bill Tileman, The Straight, 27 Oct 07]

The Defence is asking ... we should all be asking: How much longer must British Columbia wait, before the facts are revealed at trial? - BC Mary.


Uh-oh. One day later, October 27, 2007:
Is Defence preparing to bury that wiretap evidence? - BC Mary


Jeff Rud
Times Colonist - Saturday, October 27, 2007

... [Michael] Bolton said the defence also plans to introduce motions to quash wiretap authorizations used by police as well as the search warrants for the legislature raids ...


Jeff Rud's complete report is at:


Friday, October 26, 2007


Courting disaster: an hour in Courtroom 64. Today's media bombshell.

By Robin Mathews

The Corrupt Sale of B.C. Rail by the Gordon Campbell Cabinet (Basi, Virk and Basi pretrial hearing). Today's "media bombshell".

On Hastings Street a maple tree up against Harbour Centre is all green and gold, riddled with Autumn sunlight. At Carrall and Hastings the North Shore Mountains in view are hard blue, only dandruffed with snow at their highest points. Seagulls circle in sunlight. About 80 dumpster-divers and associates move around outside the Bottle Depot and Potter's Place Mission. Did Jesus say: "I am the potter, you are the clay"? On the bus a late twenties, handsome, white male breaks into song, a lyrical, haunting Chinese melody... in lyrical, haunting Chinese. Unaffectedly good natured, he smiles at the elderly Chinese ladies on the bus. They smile back, unaffectedly good natured, and clap when he finishes singing. The people....

In Courtroom 64, a small courtroom, 9:00 a.m., the usual eight to ten lawyers sit - with three "interveners" - one for the B.C. Government, and one for B.C. Rail- they in the jury section, and, I believe, a member of the Defence team. In the gallery are a scattering of journalists, a journalism student "on assignment" from one of the colleges, the NDP Justice critic - about seven or eight people in all.

The pre-trial hearing is a "progress report" on disclosure matters for one hour, a trial to occupy the room after 10:00 a.m. So hurry up....

Contestation is the order of the day. Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett wants things to go well. Move on. She understands things "have taken a long time". She wants to move on with the "matters [that] can go ahead" on December 3.

But the Defence, in the person of Kevan McCullough, has criticisms. We have heard some of them before. The new ones are deeply disturbing. 25,000 pages of disclosure material that contains probably 4000- 6000 pages of RCMP officer "continuation notes" were delivered to Defence only a few days ago (with more to come). That kind of news is, by now, not a huge surprise. Some necessary materials are still not made available, defence asserts. McCullough states the Crown has not complied with the orders of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

Who is delaying? Is anyone? McCullough suggests the Special Crown Prosecutor has delayed. Berardino - Special Crown Prosecutor - intervenes, demands right of reply to any such allegations. Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett says she won't hear argument on the matters now. McCullough insists the just-arrived material must be assessed before anything can be said about "matters [that] can go ahead".

Disturbing: among hard copy summaries of disclosure material that have surfaced is reference to electronic material that doesn't exist, that no one can find. (three and a half years have passed in which material can be "lost" accidentally or by someone's design).

Some vetted material seems to have been vetted for inexplicable reason. B.C. Rail material that has been "vetted" (cleaned to prevent privileged or other like material being shown) is not validly vetted, it is alleged. Why are crucial documents not disclosed? How does Defence get at it? Mr. Dean, representing B.C. Rail, states the corporation believes it has done all well and all it's going to do. (?)

Disturbing, and part of the bombshell: delays open suspicions in the minds of Defence. That fact is only significant as being stated on the record. Suspicion is, and has been, the ruling condition of the pre-trial hearings.

Disturbing, and the main part of the bombshell: part of the material that must be absolutely clearly examined and processed, says McCullough "may impact on certain cabinet ministers". That information must be thoroughly and fully and fairly processed - before continuing with any discussion of that material.

More wrangles and compromises about scheduling erupt and are slowly put to rest, temporarily. Next sitting will be on November 16 at 9:00 a.m. to track "progress" and deal with "matters [that] can go ahead". Then, following, November 23 at 8:00 a.m. (if I am not mistaken).

Observations: The meeting was prickly and uncomfortable. Madam Justice Bennett was not always at ease; she seemed even anxious. Things are NOT moving forward.

McCullough alleged the Crown has not complied with the court order on disclosure. That is (quietly) a bombshell not observed by most.

Madam Justice Bennett has been slowly coming under question as a part of the delay mechanism. Where are her stern orders? Where are contempt of court charges for procrastinators? Why doesn't she make clear to herself if Crown is delaying - and, if so, take determined steps?

The pre-trial hearings are haunted by the facts that William Berardino, made Special Crown Prosecutor to assure distance and objectivity, was a former colleague of the Attorney General who appointed him.

Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, in addition, is a former colleague of the present Attorney General, Wally Oppal, who makes clear constantly that he is more political an instrument of Gordon Campbell as AG than an objective, mediating, "justice" force.

The suggestion that material to be examined may "impact on certain cabinet ministers" raises the most disturbing question of all - the continually haunting question: why did the RCMP early in the investigation declare that "no elected person" was under investigation?

In a matter as complicated as this one - involving drug investigations, corrupt B.C. Rail sale investigations, questionable Agricultural Land actions, fraud and breach of trust investigations and "proceeds of crime" investigations - how is it possible, for reasonable and prudent Canadians, to believe that NO elected official merits serious investigation?

The persons who must answer that complex concern are the Special Crown Prosecutor (behind him the RCMP) and the judge seized with the whole matter. The Special Crown Prosecutor, it seems, doesn't even entertain the idea of others needing investigation. So the onus falls on Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett to insist upon rapid and uncontaminated delivery of all disclosure material, and to bring the other matter up herself from the bench: are there persons who should be investigated now, perhaps elected officials, so that the pre-trial processes can be just, be seen to be just, and include anyone who should be considered in any of the aspects of the actions in process?

As it is, the actors on the stage in Courtroom 64 appeared to be shadow-boxing in a dense fog. The strange nature of the boxing is that there seemed to be boxers in the ring, punching and punching, who are nowhere mentioned on the fight program and whom some in the Courtroom deny even exist.

Bill Tileman says:
Didn't appear to me to be any other media than CP, me and Robin there but one or two people I didn't know. [Interesting, eh? - BC Mary]

Friday, October 26, 2007
Basi-Virk case - 25,000 new pages of evidence; Justice Bennett blows up; defence blames Special Prosecutor for delays

By Bill Tieleman
Friday October 26, 2007

A massive 25,000 page disclosure of new evidence in the breach of trust trial of two former provincial government ministerial aides could impact current BC cabinet ministers, BC Supreme Court was told Friday morning.

And tempers flared as defence lawyers, the Special Prosecutor and even Justice Elizabeth Bennett all expressed frustration at lengthy delays that have stalled the pending trial, which began with a police raid on the BC Legislature on December 28, 2003.

Kevin McCullough, lawyer for Bob Virk, the former ministerial assistant to then-Transportation Minister Judith Reid, told Bennett that current members of Premier Gordon Campbell's government may be affected when the new evidence is examined.

"There are certain documents that may have an impact on certain cabinet ministers and we may have to pursue those documents," McCullough said.

Earlier defence lawyer Michael Bolton, representing David Basi, former aide to then-Finance Minister Gary Collins, told the court that 13,000 pages of new evidence all connected to the BC Rail deal had been received by the defence this week. Another more than 11,000 pages related to a drug investigation that was linked to the case was also disclosed.

The massive disclosure of new material - ordered by Bennett in June in response to a defence request - has made it impossible for the defence to prepare planned court applications, an exasperated McCullough said.

"To give it all to us on the 22nd and 24th gives absolutely no time to review the file," McCullough said.

Bennett was also exasperated with the delays in the complicated case that began as an RCMP drug trafficking investigation but later branched off into a breach of trust action after wiretaps led police to look into the $1 billion privatization sale of BC Rail to CN Rail.

When counsel for the defence suggested it might need more time to prepare its applications in light of the new evidence, Bennett warned that she would not consider moving the planned December 3 date scheduled in court.

"As long as everyone understands we're not moving the December 3 date - if I have to sit here in an empty courtroom myself, the matters are going to be heard" she exclaimed.

"I don't think any of us expected this volume of documents to show up. I didn't," she added.

But McCullough intervened, placing the blame entirely on Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino and his team.

"There are no problems at the feet of the defence. 100% of the problem is at the feet of the Special Prosecutor," he charged, which prompted Berardino to fire back.

"If people are going to make a speech - I want to reply to that. You asked for every scrap of paper," Berardino started, referring to Bennett's own instructions previously in court.

But an angry Bennett refused to hear more.

"At some point your friends are going to bring in an abuse of process motion and I don't need to hear arguments from anyone today," Bennett said curtly. "I appreciate no one knew how many documents there were and I know everyone is working hard."

McCullough refused to drop the issue, however.

"We're quite prepared to set out for you that not one day of delay, not a single day, is due to the defence," he argued.

"I don't need to hear it," Bennett replied but McCullough persisted.

"The Special Prosecutor says they have complied with your order - I would like to review that," he said. "We have found hard copy call logs summaries that we cannot find electronically. The Special Prosecutor cannot find them either and they can't explain it."

"It would be negligent of me to not raise the problems," he concluded.

Outside the court Bolton repeated earlier statements that the defence will file an abuse of process motion which could potentially see the case dismissed without a trial, based on arguments against police conduct and problems with disclosure of evidence by the prosecution.

Bennett again warned both sides that delays are not acceptable.


Startling news, Bill: You say that Dave Basi's lawyer, Michael Bolton, declared that "more than 11,000 pages related to a drug investigation that was linked to the case were also disclosed". But weren't the drug-trafficking charges against Basi stayed? So have they been brought back into force? As well they should be, if I remember correctly the 26 wire-tapped cell phone calls from an alleged high-level criminal (thought to be Mr Big in the West) to Dave Basi in the Ministry of Finance during the summer of 2003. - BC Mary.


Thursday, October 25, 2007


Pre-trial hearing today, 26 October, in B.C. Supreme Court, 9:00 AM.

Anytime after 6:30 AM (PST) on the day of the action, confirmation of time, place, and Case Number will be listed online. Click on the B.C. Court links in the left column.



First news: "DL" tells me that Bill Tieleman is in the courtroom.


Eyewitness report from PG:


The hearing this morning would upset you. The Crown continues to delay disclosure and Mr. Berardino was at a loss for words to explain his ineptitude.

More dates in November, and the Defence will proceed with the Government Records application that the Campbell government is opposing.

The Defence spoke about the abuse of process application that will be brought due to the manner of disclosure and the way the RCMP conducted this investigation.



And one more from PG:


My information is confirmed in this report.

CP Newswire

Defence plans abuse of process motion in case connected to legislature raid

VANCOUVER - Defence lawyers in the case involving the police raid on the B.C. legislature plan to file an abuse of process motion which could stop the trial before it's set to begin next March.

Michael Bolton, the lawyer for former government aide Dave Basi, says the motion will concern the way the case was investigated by police and the lack of disclosure of evidence by the prosecution.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett already ruled there was a substantial failure by police and the Crown in disclosing its evidence against the two former government aides.

Kevin McCullough, who represents former aide Bobby Virk, told the judge Friday that just last week the special prosecutor handed over 25,000 more pages evidence. He stated emphatically that none of the document delays are the fault of the defence.

It's been almost four years since police seized documents from offices in the B.C. legislature in connection to the sale of Crown-owned BC Rail.


The Canadian Press Go to Google News
Defence plans abuse of process motion in case connected to legislature raid

2 hours ago

VANCOUVER - Defence lawyers in the case involving the police raid on the B.C. legislature plan to file an abuse of process motion that could stop the trial before it's set to begin next March.

Michael Bolton, the lawyer for former government aide Dave Basi, said outside court Friday the motion will concern the way the case was investigated by police and the lack of disclosure of evidence by the prosecution.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett already ruled there was a substantial failure by police and the Crown in disclosing evidence against the two former government aides.

Kevin McCullough, who represents former ministerial aide Bobby Virk, told the judge that just last week the special prosecutor handed over 25,000 more pages of evidence.

"There are (documents) that may have an impact on certain cabinet ministers and we may have to pursue those documents," McCullough told the court while trying to make arrangements for further evidence-disclosure hearings. {Snip} ...

McCullough told the judge none of the delays are the fault of defence lawyers.

"One hundred per cent of that falls at the feet of the special prosecutor," he said.

Special prosecutor Bill Berardino jumped to his feet to say he was willing to give a step-by-step accounting of the evidence disclosure process if the court was concerned about a delay of evidence.

Bennett interrupted, telling the lawyers she would hear those complaints during the abuse-of-process argument.

"Yes, it's taken long," she said. "I don't think anyone realized how many documents were out there."

Bennett has often expressed her own frustration at the delays, saying the public has waited too long for the trial to start.

She made it clear to the 11 lawyers in the courtroom that a December pre-trial hearing on discussion of evidence will be going ahead.

"If I have to sit here in an empty courtroom by myself, the matters are going to be heard," Bennett stated.

Defence lawyers have been methodically going through an evidence room in the case involving the charges against Basi and Virk, and also the drug allegations that set police on the path of the fraud and breach-of-trust charges.

"This is a puzzle," McCullough told the judge. "I need to be able to explain that puzzle to you, my lady."

Lawyers have set aside more hearing time next month to track the progress of evidence disclosure.

They'll also be in court for three weeks in December to review evidence that could be used in the trial next March.



Venezuela ... Italy ... Montreal ... Vancouver, drugs trafficking and money-laundering involving bankers, business people and stockbrokers


Andy Riga,
CanWest News Service - October 25, 2007

MONTREAL -- Cocaine hidden in animal-hide shipments to thwart drug-sniffing police dogs. Three hundred kilograms of cocaine quietly seized by police in Vancouver. Swiss bank accounts code-named Oil 1 and Oil 2. An alleged frontman with ties to Italian royalty.

Newspapers in Italy are piecing together details of an alleged major money-laundering and drug-smuggling scheme dismantled this week -- an operation Italian police charge was run by reputed Montreal mobster Vito Rizzuto from his jail cell.

His father, Nicolo Rizzuto, is also among those wanted by Italian authorities. In total, 19 people, including bankers, business people and stockbrokers, were arrested after an Italian police investigation, with assistance from police in Canada, France and Switzerland.

Italian police say the scheme revolved around a company called Made in Italy Inc., with its Rome headquarters across the street from a former palace where the Italian cabinet meets.

Ostensibly created to promote Italian wares internationally, Italian authorities say the company's main role was to launder $600 million in drug profits.

Until recently, Mariano Turrisi, the head of Made in Italy, was vice-president of Valori e Futuro (Values and Future), a movement founded by Prince Emanuele Filiberto -- an heir to the defunct throne of Italy -- to pave his way into politics.

What Filiberto did not know was that Turrisi had previously been investigated by police in Italy and the United States for ties to the Mafia in New York, Il Sole 24 Ore, an Italian business newspaper, reported yesterday.

The RCMP assisted in the investigation that led to Tuesday's arrests, but it is keeping mum about its role.

Claudio Gatti, an investigative reporter at Il Sole 24 Ore, said in an interview that Canadian and Italian police have exchanged wiretap evidence.

It includes conversations between Rizzuto and Turrisi. On the tapes, Rizzuto is also heard telling someone that Turrisi is "an associate" whom he had "done things with," Gatti said.

In another conversation, Rizzuto refers to Turrisi as a "thief," according to transcripts obtained by Gatti.

Several Italian newspapers reported yesterday that this week's arrests may be related to a seizure of 300 kilograms of cocaine in Vancouver last year. That seizure was kept quiet for fear that divulging it would hamper investigators, La Sicilia reported.

The paper reported two bank workers in Veneto in northern Italy were allegedly responsible for depositing huge quantities of drug money in two Swiss bank accounts, dubbed Olio 1 and Olio 2 (Oil 1 and Oil 2).

Cocaine allegedly made its way from Venezuela to Canada and was then shipped hidden in animal hides to northern Italy, centre of the country's fashion industry. The hides were transported while they were being tanned, with the shippers hoping the acidic chemicals used in the process would confuse drug-sniffing dogs, according to Il Tempo, another newspaper.

One of the people arrested in Tuesday's police sweep in Italy is Felice Italiano, a LaSalle, Que., resident who in 1994 was arrested as part of one of the biggest drug seizures in Canada. The charges were later dropped after a judge determined police had fabricated evidence.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007




Unstable gang scene unique to B.C. with its Gateway location and profitable grow-ops. But it's way more than that, isn't it?


Composition of organized crime groups constantly shifting due to convenient location and profitable grow-ops, police say

With files from Justine Hunter in Victoria
THE GLOBE AND MAIL - October 24, 2007

VANCOUVER -- A lethal intersection of American guns, sea routes to Asia and rapidly proliferating marijuana grow-ops has given rise to a volatile gang scene in British Columbia, police say.

In other parts of Canada, established gangs provide some measure of stability to their illegal industries - {Snip} ...

"What we have here is a phenomenon unlike anywhere else in Canada," said Sergeant Shinder Kirk of B.C.'s Integrated Gang Taskforce, a police group established two years ago in the wake of a slew of slayings in the Indo-Canadian community.

There are 129 gangs active in B.C. Sgt. Kirk said mid-level gangs in particular are seeking to establish themselves.

Younger street-level groups frequently shift and disband, making them harder to track.

What they all have in common is a profit motive built on B.C.'s massive marijuana exports, which allow gangs to smuggle hard drugs and high-powered guns into Canada, he said.

The geography of the Lower Mainland plays a big role in British Columbia's growing gang problem, Sgt. Kirk said. Ports provide ready access to Asia, and the U.S. border is only a few kilometres away. And grow-ops are proliferating, giving gangs every incentive to resort to violence, even murder, to grab a bigger piece of the profits.

The taskforce was founded because of violence in one community, but the problem of gang life has changed dramatically. Sgt. Kirk said talk of ethnic gangs misses the reality of gang life in B.C., where the malleable composition of criminal groups is the only real constant. Some gang members are poor, some not. Some are dropouts, some are university graduates, he said.

Yesterday, B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal said today's violence stems from complacency of decades past when the deadly lure of gangs was played down. "We keep meeting with people at the grassroots level who are really paying the price for the neglect of the eighties and the nineties where we didn't do our homework. We had plenty of warning at that time that gangs were a part of our culture and we as a society have ignored that, so we have many kids out there who are dysfunctional, who find gang life to be cool."

Rob Gordon, the head of the criminology department at Simon Fraser University ... sees major differences between that earlier era of gang activity and the current one, with the biggest being the enormous profits to be made growing, exporting and selling illegal drugs, mostly marijuana.

Pot may have a benevolent reputation, he said, but any users who aren't growing their own supplies are fuelling the war playing out on the streets of the Lower Mainland. "Ultimately, you're contributing to the violence."

And the level of violence is escalating: There have been high-profile shootings this year, with bullets flying in public places like the Fortune Happiness restaurant, threatening to injure innocent people.

Now, in Surrey, two bystanders were not only killed - they were deliberately murdered.

That indicates that some gangs no longer feel the need to operate in the shadows, a prospect that Dr. Gordon finds deeply worrisome. "It's a very public demonstration of power. We should all be concerned."


"We had plenty of warning ... that gangs were a part of our culture and we as a society have ignored that, so we have many kids out there who are dysfunctional, who find gang life to be cool," says B.C.'s attorney-general.

Not so fast, Wally. You're blaming the kids? Aren't you overlooking B.C.'s 21st century failure to guide those kids into some genuine career options with, for example, apprenticeship training? Plus, street kids didn't invent this black market system, so how about looking a bit higher up the chain o'command for Mr Big in Organized Crime? Who is organizing the trans-national drugs-trafficking transportation systems, for starts? - BC Mary.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Basi Virk Basi pre-trial hearing

But here's a sobering thought, taken from today's Vancouver Province newspaper, COURT CHAOS SHOULDN'T DENY VICTIMS JUSTICE by Joey Thompson. Although it's about another, different trial altogether, the law applies equally in all cases and, in this example, starkly reveals some things we maybe ought to be thinking about, namely, What about us?:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

He won't ever have to face trial on the grim allegations that he repeatedly assaulted and threatened his girlfriend.

But while domestic-violence suspect Davood Zarinchang is off the hook, the public is not -- the judge who nixed the string of assault and uttering-threats charges against Zarinchang also decided taxpayers should foot his legal-defence bill.

How can this happen in a free and democratic society that reveres the rule of law, that promises fairness and justice for all -- for the broken victims of crime as well for their assailants?

It occurs because our laws are fashioned on the premise that an illegal act, be it a brutal beating or a bank heist, is a crime against the state and Her Majesty the Queen. The real victim is virtually non-existent throughout the process. S/he is without a voice, entitled neither to restitution or representation -- the Crown acts for the state.

So when the system screws up and those charged are wrongly denied their liberty, as with Zarinchang, and the court steps in to remedy the error, as is its duty under the Charter of Rights, more often than not the accused are released, the Crown gets a talking-to and the victims get diddly-squat -- they don't get a say, they don't get closure, justice is out of their reach

{Snip} ...

[The judge said:]
"I recognize the resources of the state are not limitless. [But] those responsible for administering the resources available to the criminal-justice system must use ingenuity and creativity to ensure the demands of the system are met."

He called the breach of Zarinchang's rights "serious and flagrant. They made his detention and his fundamental right to liberty insignificant by continually reprioritizing him and not providing the necessary facilities for him to be able to have a show-cause hearing," the judge concluded.

"Planning and foresight would have taken care of this problem."

No question, such sloppiness by a government agency is unacceptable and demands swift attention.

But what about the woman who had enough faith in the system to try to bring to justice a man suspected of being violent and a risk to others? She had to remain silent while her concerns were dismissed.


Something to think about, isn't it. We, the public, must also remain silent, absorbing as best we can what people can tell us about the B.C. Rail case. Hoping Robin, Bill, Gary E, Meaghan, and others can get to Courtroom 54 on Friday 26 October and then report their impressions here, for us to study. If others can possibly attend, please do. And let us know, eh? - BC Mary.



It's a developer, stupid! And an "influential developer" at that!


CanWest News Service
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

VICTORIA - A lawyer who filed freedom-of-information requests about suspended police Chief Paul Battershill's expenses said Tuesday he doesn't know why the chief was placed on administrative leave.

The Victoria police board put Battershill on leave Oct. 11, after receiving a leaked copy of an Oct. 9 letter lawyer David Mulroney wrote to Battershill's lawyers.

The letter outlined potential conflicts of interest, and Battershill's lawyers had been trying to block Mulroney's information requests. [Hullo out there: anybody understand this statement? If so, please advise. - BC Mary]

But Mulroney, who said he expects to receive answers to his requests on Friday, fended off questions on Tuesday.

"Whatever information the police board acted upon, is not information I possess," said Mulroney.

"My FOI requests contain no information. I have to assume the administrative leave occurred as a result of the police board speaking to people, although I am not aware of the process they followed or who they spoke to."

Battershill is not allowed to enter the police building, he can't receive e-mails and his BlackBerry has been blocked.

Battershill has said his lawyer has told him not to comment.

Victoria Mayor and police board chairman Alan Lowe called the Oct. 11 emergency meeting after reportedly receiving an information package from the police force.

Police complaint commissioner Dirk Ryneveld said he was still gathering information and will decide in a few days whether there are grounds for an investigation of Battershill.

Mulroney said he filed the FOI requests on behalf of a client who is concerned about the quality of policing in downtown Victoria.

He would not identify the client, who has been reported to be an influential developer.

The requests were for information on salary, benefits and expenses of senior Victoria police personnel and Battershill's expense accounts, including credit cards, dating back to 2004.



Monday, October 22, 2007


Only in Italy? No, not very likely.


New York Times - October 23, 2007

ROME, Oct. 22 — Organized crime represents the biggest segment of the Italian economy, accounting for more than $127 billion in receipts, according to a report issued Monday.

The new figure reflects a trend that has been under way for a few years, the annual report says. The figure last year was $106 billion, making it not quite the biggest segment of the economy.

The report also said the line between legitimate business and criminal activity was becoming harder to discern.

The annual report was released by the Confesercenti, an association of small businesses. It says that through various activities — extortion, usury, contraband, robberies, gambling and Internet piracy — organized crime accounts for 7 percent of Italy’s gross domestic product.

“From the weaving factories, to tourism to business and personal services, from farming to public contracts to real estate and finance, the criminal presence is consolidated in every economic activity,” the 86-page report said.

The report also points to a disturbing trend of collusion in which big businesses participate, especially in public works.

“The businessmen prefer to make a pact with the Mafia rather than denounce the blackmail,” the report said.

The report comes on the heels of a visit to Naples by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, when he condemned “deplorable” mob violence that he said had insinuated itself into everyday life.

Recent news reports have described threats to journalists in Sicily and the Campania region from organized-crime families.

Usury represents the most lucrative activity by organized crime, with syndicates taking in $43 billion while racketeering brings in $14 billion, the report estimated. Illegal construction nets about $19 billion.

The businesses most afflicted by organized crime are in the south — in Sicily, Campania, Calabria and Puglia, the report found.

The report says 80 percent of the businesses in the Sicilian cities of Catania and Palermo regularly pay protection money, known as “pizzo.”

prepared by Criminal Analysis Section, RCMP "E" Division, June 2005

... Organized crime now plays a significantly greater role in the economy of this province than it did one generation ago. It includes the activities of well-known and lesser-known groups, white collar criminal activity, gang activity, and both domestic and foreign actors. These groups operate within a series of illicit marketplaces which are often facilitated by the same innate strategic or comparative advantages offered by British Columbia in the legitimate economy – proximity to the United States, a gateway role between North America and Asia, and a growing economy with a skilled and diverse population. Recent years have seen significant innovation by organized crime , particularly within the drug economy. The result is a vibrant and rapidly expanding underground economy, which, through its corrosive socio-economic effects and violent attempts at self-regulation, is of grave concern in both the tactical and strategic senses. This concern is felt in the immediate area of drug crime and violence – homicides, assaults and kidnappings – associated to organized crime and the drug trade, in the range of secondary activities associated to organized crime, and in the indirect, damaging effects of a criminal economy which by conservative estimate equates to at least 4% of provincial GDP ...


These two reports suggest that all Organized Criminals are thugs. I don't think so. With the money and opportunities at their disposal, today's big crooks are more likely the graduates of good schools, functioning among the respected professions or in big business, doing the very big international deals. RCMP Sgt John Ward warned in 2003 that "organized crime has crept into every level of society in the past two years." It's ironic that jet-setting crooks can so easily pick up a get-out-of-jail-free card, as our social structure naturally tends to shower respect on well-dressed, well-spoken people living in the very big houses, dealing the very big deals. But international commercial crime, in my opinion, is where Organized Crime is heading ... with administrations and legislation to smooth their way ... and we may not know it until it's too late. For example, here's one very small sad clue that Organized Crime is expanding its business opportunities right under our noses:


Frances Bula
The Vancouver Sun - September 24, 2007

VANCOUVER. Albert Perrin's day used to start at 6 a.m., with the first of his three or four daily heroin fixes. By 7 a.m., he would be at his carpentry job.

The minute his lunch break came, he would have another fix. Sometimes his dealer would deliver, but on bad days, Perrin would leave work to go to his dealer and not come back.

He would do another fix after work and then maybe again, sometime before bed. He'd tried more than once to clean himself up. In the mid-1990s, he went through a rehab program run by B.C.'s construction unions in New Westminster. A pioneer program started in 1981, there are only two like it in North America ...



Basi and Virk have a very important choice to make ... and the people of B.C. are depending on it

Although the months and years roll by, the Trial of Basi, Virk and Basi still hasn't begun. The next pre-trial Hearing in B.C. Supreme Court is 26 October (Friday). Recently, someone mentioned this piece which discusses the trial as an approaching event. Although I wrote it almost 2 years ago, I thought it might be appropriate to post it again at this time, as the 400th item presented here on The Legislature Raids. - BC Mary.


by BC Mary

As Dave Basi and Bob Virk approach their trial date on 5 June 2006, do they dream impossible dreams of a "Not Guilty" verdict? Are they expecting to be protected by powerful politicians? Or ... are they living in fear of becoming scapegoats who must carry the full load of blame for others who profited from things that went wrong in government?

It can't be an easy time for Basi and Virk or their families. So what are their options?

Their primary option, of course, was the honourable one: no deals, no hanky panky, no problems. But they allegedly became convinced that the road to political success was paved with fraud, influence peddling, breach of trust, accepting bribes, and money laundering. Basi and Virk were not angels.

So now, everything depends upon how politically valuable these former ministerial aides still are.

They entered the B.C. Legislature as part of the Gordon Campbell regime and from Day One, they knew every political detail worth knowing: everything about the Gordon Campbell government, every decision, every important discussion, every going-out and coming-in. Presumably, Basi and Virk knew that not all of their associates were angels either.

Their on-the-spot knowledge extended far beyond their Ministries of Finance and Transportation, beyond the B.C. Legislature, into the electoral process, right up into the Prime Minister's office. Top-rank aides like these are walking encyclopedias. Or time bombs. But are they unique? No, they are not.

Basi and Virk are not the first to be arrested and charged with allegedly accepting bribes to help sell off British Columbia's public assets. Consider Robert E. Sommers, a popular B.C. Cabinet Minister (1952-1956) under Social Credit premier W.A.C. Bennett.

Of course, Sommers made no small error. As Minister of Lands & Forests, he accepted bribes for granting a perpetually renewable Timber Sale Licence for half of the largest temperate old growth rain forest on earth, to a major B.C. forestry company (MacMillan Bloedel). Again, in 1956, he granted logging rights to B.C. Forest Products for the other half of this prized region known as Clayoquot Sound.

These licences alone were extremely valuable. The forest companies made huge profits on the sale of shares issued after each licence was granted -- before even a single tree was harvested. Soon B.C. Forest Products sold out to Fletcher Challenge, who sold to International Forest Products (Interfor) ... while, during the 1970s, clearcutting tripled in Clayoquot Sound.

The big money being made by corporate friends meant that taxes and royalties flowed freely into Socred government coffers. It is difficult to believe that this sweet situation developed without the knowledge and participation of many others besides the Minister of Forests.

Presumably like Basi and Virk, Sommers was no career criminal. He had been a popular school principal in Rossland before entering politics. As Forestry minister, he stood out as a jewel in the Socred line-up of used car salesmen and bulldozer operators. Sommers was merely ambitious -- for himself, for his government.

It was extremely embarrassing for W.A.C. Bennett's newfangled Socreds, so recently elected on a specific promise that religious men like himself would free British Columbia from corruption. His Minister of Forests became a very big smirch on Wacky's lily-white new angel wings. What was a premier to do?

There was no denying the crime, not after the irrefutable old "Bull o'the Woods," the Liberal Opposition M.L.A. Gordon Gibson Sr. became the first accuser of Sommers. That put the handwriting on the wall: the Minister of Forests would have to pay the full penalty to ensure Wacky's triumphal escape.

Premier W.A.C. Bennett was thought by many to have been a political genius. It really was a marvel, how a small-town hardware merchant and former Progressive Conservative back-bencher suddenly got so smart that he could tap-dance like a madman, and pull his inexperienced Socreds through such a disgraceful chapter of government. The fact is: he did drag them through intact, although disheveled and besmirched.

Sommers alone took the blame, grumbling pathetically for the rest of his life that he had received no thanks, no apology, no reward for his selfless dedication. All Sommers received was jail-time during which, in the final irony, his wife worked in a sawmill to support their family. Basi and Virk should deeply ponder these points.

At Clayoquot Sound, there developed a 13-year period of intense conflict: blockades, court battles, confrontations in the woods, as people tried to stop the clearcut degradation of the rare rain forest which is home to the white Spirit Bear.

In 1996, the First Nations found a successful compromise when they invited all stakeholders to discuss peace and to pursue the development of a U.N. Biosphere Reserve proposal.

October 1996 saw 133 countries support the U.N. designation. Cloyoquot Sound -- about the size of Prince Edward Island -- became a U.N. Biosphere Reserve.

Why didn't Robert Sommers do the sensible thing 40 years earlier, and tell all he knew about his co-conspirators? Did he think the god-fearing Premier Bennett would reward his loyalty? Bennet never did. Sommers became an embittered, lonely man.

Basi and Virk don't need to make the same mistake. They should know that their best bargaining chip is their knowledge of the alleged corruption within the B.C. Legislature. Unlike Sommers, they can turn this to their own advantage -- and to B.C.'s advantage too.

Surely British Columbia -- through their lawyers, the Special Prosecutor, and the B.C. Supreme Court -- could develop an honourable plea bargain which would give Basi and Virk a new start in life, and (more important) would give B.C. the fresh start it desperately needs as well.

These two men may not be angels; but the reality is, they hold information of great value to the public interest. Perhaps the people must give a little, to get this information. Without it, the people must do battle again, as they did over Cloyoquot Sound.

British Columbia needs to know who did what crimes, how, when, why. Most especially, B.C. needs to know if Organized Crime is involved in our legislature.

The Criminal Code of Canada makes it clear that there are 3 types of bribery offences: to offer a bribe, to pay a bribe, to accept a bribe.

Rumour has it that those who allegedly offered and paid the bribes haven't been arrested and charged, but are being given preferential treatment in return for their testimony for the prosecution.

Basi and Virk must consider this. If their former colleagues do testify against them in B.C. Supreme Court (once again selling their information for personal gain) ... isn't it only fair that Basi and Virk should reveal their secrets too? For some kind of benefit ... to themselves ... but primarily to the public interest?

Basi and Virk were not angels. They are alleged to have done wrong. But without a doubt, others participated in those nefarious schemes. The people of B.C. should focus on these two men who are the key observers ... the ones most able to help us understand the whole sordid story of how we lost B.C. Rail, and more. Much more. We should prepare to help them ... to help us.

Mr Basi, Mr Virk: that's the option. If you decide to put things right for the people of British Columbia, that way lies honour.

Surely it can't be the final legacy of Bennett and Sommers: that there's no stopping political corruption in this province?


Sunday, October 21, 2007


Victoria's wild horror stories

Break-ins, shady deals and plain bad behaviour

Michael Smyth
The Province -- Sunday, October 21, 2007

... Paul Battershill: Victoria's police chief is a respected, well-spoken career cop with an endearing habit of falling off his bicycle. (He broke his collarbone in the last spill.)

He's so well-regarded that the NDP tried to sweet-talk him into politics and the City of Edmonton tried to head-hunt him to become their top cop. He turned them both down.

Now, in a shocker, Battershill has been placed on paid leave while the local police board reviews undisclosed allegations of misconduct against him.

In a weird twist, Battershill's lawyer's office was rifled through in a midnight break-in. Police from neighboring Saanich were called to investigate to avoid any appearance of bias by the local gumshoes. {Snip} ...

[Michael Smyth describes Husband-and-wife bureaucrats Ron and Joan Danderfer who had senior, well-paid jobs in the provincial government ...Until last week, that is, when they both quit amid official inquiries ... {Snip}

Graham Bruce: The former Liberal labour minister is on the hot seat over his contract work for Cowichan Tribes, a Vancouver Island native band. He was paid $121,000 to help the tribes secure funding for the 2008 North American Indigenous Games.

But ex-cabinet ministers aren't supposed to lobby their former colleagues for two years after leaving office. There's also the pesky Lobbyist Registration Act, in which professional lobbyists must reveal every politician and bureaucrat they butter up on behalf of a paying client.] {Snip} ...

The Basi-Virk saga: While all this toil and trouble bubbles away, the grandaddy of 'em all smolders just beneath the surface.

The fourth anniversary of the notorious police raid on the legislature is approaching. Two key former officials in the B.C. government -- Dave Basi and Bob Virk -- face fraud and other corruption charges in the $1-billion sale of B.C. Rail to CN Rail.

The trial date has been put off five times. But now things are finally coming to a head. Maybe.

Sources describe an intense behind-the-scenes battle over secret government documents and whether they should be presented in court. The government is trying to keep cabinet records and other secrets under wraps. The defence wants every last e-mail and post-it note coughed up for scrutiny.

The March trial, if it ever happens, could be Victoria's wildest horror story ever


Michael Smyth: Here's another pair of smoldering horror stories. Judith Lavoie did two good columns in Times Colonist on Western Forest Products' licences on public forest lands sliding into private hands in the beautiful Jordan River area, almost on Victoria's doorstep.

Each level of responsible bureaucracy is claiming administrative error. "We didn't know about the by-law!" "We've had staff changes!" "We can't do anything now or we might be sued!" And the ultimate insult: "Don't worry, be happy, it won't happen again!" I mean, how could it happen again ... there's no other place like that, so close to Victoria.

So Question #1 is: How did lands held as a public trust by Western Forest Products under Tree Farm Licences (the forestry equivalent of the A.L.R.) get transferred into the private pockets of real estate developers? At very least, the public needs prior consultation. At very least, one of the basic tenets of contract law is that some benefit must accrue to both parties to a contract. I hope readers will study Lavoie's reports and sent your comments here.

See: CRD error - Jordan River
By Judith Lavoie

Plus: "Error slipped by CRD at all levels" - by Judith Lavoie
Times Colonist - 20 Oct 07.

Question #2 asks if there is still a pending trial concerning neighbouring Sooke lands ... charges of accepting and/or offering bribes in connection with the removal of Agricultural Land Reserve acreage into private real estate developers' ownership (now built up as Sun River Estates).

"File No. 134750-1-D" Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi, James S. Duncan, and Anthony R. Young.

The charges are: against Basi: Breach of trust by a public officer. Against Duncan and Young: person dealing with government offering bribe.

How about that, Michael? - BC Mary.


Saturday, October 20, 2007


Mark Marissen's new style of career politics. Was this where Basi & Virk were heading?


BC Business - 2007 06 01
By Paul Willcocks

In America, Mark Marissen would be a star: a man who, for better or worse, battled his foes to usher in a whole new kind of professional politics in B.C., and came out on top.

Good looking in a scrubbed, cheerful way, the youngish Marissen is half of a B.C. power couple – his wife, Christy Clark, is a former provincial cabinet minister, a federal Liberal and a political wiz. For his part, Marissen has a killer reputation as a political strategist and organizer, maybe a little too literally for some past opponents.

Marissen’s insider status and power base were built as he locked up B.C. for Paul Martin in the long battle for the federal Liberal leadership, leaving the ruins of Chrétienite camps – and some bitter enemies – in his smiling wake.

Then came a nice underdog twist. When Martin’s short, unhappy time as prime minister ended, Marissen didn’t sign on with any of the favoured leadership candidates: Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff or even Ken Dryden. Instead, he stepped up to run the campaign for long shot Stéphane Dion, a geeky policy wonk from Quebec whose English was, on good days, described charitably as “better than people expected.”

Dion won. And Marissen was right alongside him, now firmly at the centre of Liberal power in Ottawa, charged with co-chairing the party’s national campaign when the election finally comes. If Marissen succeeds – that is, if the Liberals can reclaim power so quickly – he’ll be hailed as a political hero. {Snip} ...

But B.C.’s new prominence is also thanks to the work of Marissen and a clutch of young Liberals – a new breed whose lives and careers revolve around politics – who grabbed control of the party and set out to make it matter more. Along the way, they played rough and trampled some long-time federal Liberal party members.

Not everyone has forgiven and forgotten. As the corruption trial of Bob Virk and Dave Basi, both part of the federal Liberal B.C. machine along with Marissen, unfolds in B.C. Supreme Court, past opponents are waiting to see how much mud gets thrown around and where it lands. Still, Marissen’s Dion triumph won him the job of co-chair for the party’s national campaign and the attention of a grateful leader. Both are good news for B.C. The province’s issues are front and centre and so are its opportunities – the star candidates who could be wooed, the opportunities for Dion to pay a little attention or make a timely phone call and get some good results. {Snip} ...

The election, whenever it comes, will be the real test.

You could say Marissen has been getting ready for that day for his entire adult life. Now 41, he’s among the first of a new wave of political types in Canada who discovered party politics in high school. They revelled in the political games at university – the equivalent of Junior A hockey for would-be NHLers – and then moved into political jobs in government and took on roles as provincial and federal candidates, consultants and organizers. Their careers and lives continue to revolve around partisan politics.

Marissen was on the federal Liberal party payroll through the winter and early spring, travelling between B.C. and Ottawa. By May, when opinion-poll results chilled enthusiasm for a vote, he had returned to Burrard Communications Inc., his small consulting and lobbying business based in the United Kingdom Building on Granville Street. Marissen has operated the consultancy since 1998 and was a busy lobbyist and communications consultant when the Liberals were in power. His client list has included the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink), the Vancouver International Airport Authority, the British Columbia Railway Co. (BC Rail), British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. and Encorp Pacific.

But really, his life’s work has been politics. {Snip} ...

Marissen’s fascination with politics all started with Pierre Trudeau. Marissen grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario, a city of about 35,000 near London. He was raised in a strict Dutch Calvinist household; he jokes that it was practically an act of teenage rebellion to become involved in the Liberal party. In those days, Marissen was enthused by Trudeau’s push to patriate the Constitution and introduce the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “The Liberal party is the party that’s pragmatic,” he still says, “and middle of the road brings good government.”

Marissen’s skills and enthusiasm were recognized, notably by legendary Liberal rainmaker Keith Davey. He began working on local and national campaigns as he studied political science at Carleton University. The program gave him more than a degree. It included a year at SFU, where he met future wife Christy Clark – a gung-ho young Liberal and student politician. SFU is also where Marissen got his first taste of politics in B.C., working as a volunteer on Jean Chrétien’s successful leadership bid in 1989.

He then went on to do various political jobs, most notably serving four years as an executive assistant to Victoria MP and cabinet minister David Anderson, a powerful Liberal figure in his own right. The job gave Marissen the chance to build his own political network. By the time he signed on to help run Paul Martin’s long leadership campaign in B.C. in the late ’90s, Marissen was ready to start putting his connections and organizing skills to use.

One of his strengths, according to those who have worked with him, is an ability to cut through all the side issues and clutter to quietly focus on the one or two elements critical to success.

In the leadership battle, the focus was on taking control of party organizations across the province – riding associations and university and college clubs – that would send delegates to the leadership convention. And Marissen and his team were good at taking control. A few phone calls, some favours called in or promised and suddenly a college Liberal club had 250 new members and a pro-Martin executive, guaranteeing their convention delegates would be on the right side. [Emphasis added. - BC Mary]

In universities and colleges, the strategy mostly looked like students playing games. At the riding level, however, things were nastier. According to Warnke, people who had spent years volunteering for the party showed up at meetings to find scores – sometimes hundreds – of people they had never seen before clutching party memberships and ready to vote in a new executive, one effectively picked by Marissen and the Martin team. Campaigning for the leadership or a nomination was no longer about sharing ideas or building support. It was about signing up instant party members who would vote the way they had been told.

It made it very difficult if you wanted to run a nomination meeting on the up and up,” Warnke says. “How do you get decent people into politics?

Marissen agrees the battle got out of hand. “It became more of a fight than it was supposed to be,” he says. But he doesn’t concede the high ground. Some critics complain of unethical mass sign-ups of instant Liberals – often from within the Indo-Canadian community – to take over riding associations.

Marissen counters that too much of the party in B.C. was run as an exclusive club, closed to new ideas or people. The Liberals needed to reflect B.C.’s changing population and bring in new members if it was to be successful, he says. “We tried to reflect that and to get a lot more people involved,” he says. Liberal party memberships soared from 4,000 to almost 40,000 in three years. Critics say that reflected dubious mass sign-ups. Marissen says the growth created a stronger, more diverse party and helped the Liberals do well in B.C. in the 2006 federal election.

Tim Murphy, former chief of staff for Martin, says Marissen broadened the Liberals’ base. He recalls travelling with Martin on a cross-country leadership campaign tour. The typical audience size was about 150, until the tour hit its first B.C. stop in the Lower Mainland. “There was a crowd of 1,200 or 1,500 people who were young, energized, diverse and excited by politics,” Murphy says. “I remember feeling at the event that it was Mark’s doing.”

There is no denying the Marissen team played rough. The most infamous episode saw the Martin forces take over the riding association of MP and Chrétien supporter Herb Dhaliwal in 2002, while Dhaliwal was out of the country and his wife was dying of cancer. The takeover not only locked up delegate support for Martin; it killed Dhaliwal’s chances of running again. He blames Basi and others on Marissen’s team, complaining of questionable mass sign-ups of instant Liberals. The riding association swelled from 250 to almost 3,400 members during the campaign to get rid of Dhaliwal.

Liberal insider and Chrétien loyalist Warren Kinsella called it the worst kind of political thuggery, grim enough to make him consider quitting the party.

“It always seemed rough, a take-no-prisoners knee-cap approach. It’s a B.C. style,” says political scientist Norman Ruff. Marissen’s organizational skills helped shape the battles, he adds. “He conducted politics like a military campaign.”

But Ruff agrees that the federal Liberal party was a comfortable, closed club in the province. (“If it was a club, it was a small one,” adds a Liberal strategist who watched the battles from outside the province.)

Marissen downplays the conflicts. But Christy Clark, no slouch at politics, is blunter. “Does anybody think that politics is just about being nice all the time? Politics is about winning,” she says. “In politics, in order for somebody to win, somebody has to lose. When winning requires you to be tough, that’s the style Mark will adopt.” But only when he has to, Clark adds. The Dion leadership campaign is an example of a victory built on playing nice.

The win came at a good time for Marissen. Once Martin was gone, their relationship had no currency. Lots of people in the party were still smarting from the blows endured during the leadership campaign. And Marissen had been unable to help Clark win the Non-Partisan Association’s nomination for Vancouver mayor in 2005. She lost to Sam Sullivan. Marissen’s enemies were delighted. He’s lost his touch, went the rumour mill. Burned too many bridges.

Then came the Dion campaign. Most observers gave the politician-professor from Quebec only a ghost of a chance. Not Marissen. “I thought he was a sure bet from the beginning,” he says. He praises Dion’s record as environment minister and his skills and judgment.

But what Marissen also saw was that the camps of the two front-runners, Rae and Ignatieff, were divided along Martin-Chrétien lines. They included a lot of people nursing grudges, people who weren’t about to unite behind the other candidate if their first pick for leader faltered. Dion was a perfect second choice for all the other camps, Marissen says. Selecting Rae or Ignatieff could have kept the camps divided for years. Dion, on the other hand, was no one’s enemy. “The party wanted to end the internal fighting,” he says.

As rough as Marissen played in the Martin-Chrétien wars, he was Mr. Nice this time around. Dion’s campaign stayed positive, avoiding any criticism of other candidates that could alienate potential delegate support on later ballots. Marissen made sure to keep on good terms with organizers and delegates in all camps throughout the campaign.

If their candidate faltered, he wanted them to have lots of reasons to look to Dion as a second choice. When the fourth-ballot votes were counted, Dion had won.
The campaign was important for Marissen’s reputation, says Sean Holman, editor of publiceyeonline.com. Critics had claimed his successes in B.C. were based on hardball tactics and skilled collaborators. The Dion campaign “demonstrated that he does have political talent in his own right,” says Holman, a former Liberal activist himself.

If this were a movie, Marissen’s triumphant Dion moment would be the end. Roll credits as Mark, Christy and five-year-old son Hamish walk into the sunset.

But it’s real life, and there are some dark clouds blocking the sunset. While Marissen is trying to figure out how to get Dion into Sussex Drive, some of the people who helped Dion capture B.C. are trying to figure out how to handle their coming B.C. Supreme Court appearances in a political corruption trial.

Dave Basi and Bob Virk are former ministerial assistants to provincial cabinet ministers, charged with accepting benefits to provide a BC Rail bidder with inside information. Both were also lieutenants in Marissen’s federal Liberal operation.

Basi, in particular, had a reputation as a go-to guy when it came to signing up new party members to help in a close vote. Dhaliwal blames Basi for the takeover in his riding. Worse, the prosecutors say the benefits came from Eric Bornmann, another key member of the Marissen team. His lobbying partners included Jamie Elmhirst, former B.C. president of the federal Liberal Party. The investigation took police to a number of senior Liberals, including a visit to Marissen’s office looking for information.

No reflection on Marissen or the party, perhaps. There have been no allegations he did anything wrong. But the case is still likely to raise some questions about Marissen’s organization – and about this new generation of professional, perpetual campaigners, whose career fortunes are so linked to seeing their party in power.
Ruff says the power shift has had a major impact on politics in Canada. “They’ve become the new elite... It’s a much harder group to get some circulation and new ideas.”

But Marissen has little time to worry about such criticisms. He has another campaign to run.



Friday, October 19, 2007


Robin Mathews on The Court Proceedings: An Update

Justice in Lotus Land? The Corrupt Sale of B.C. Rail by the Gordon Campbell Cabinet. The Court Proceedings: An Update
For vivelecanada.ca

With the icy speed of a pre-global-warming glacier the court processes arising from the corrupt sale of B.C. Rail inch forward imperceptibly. October 26 begins another nudge. Apparently, more disclosure will be on the docket. But why?

The processes concern about a dozen criminal charges against B.C. Cabinet aides Basi, Basi, and Virk, alleging fraud and breach of trust involving improper activities in the (what many believe was an already corrupt) sale of "the peoples" B.C. Rail to CNR, now a U.S. corporation. ("Hollowing out" Canada's economy.)

The drums are beating with the names Basi, Basi, and Virk - and they have been beating for years, since the search warrant "raids" on B.C. legislature offices in December of 2003. But something in the process smells. Even the man I call "Gordon Campbell's personal representative at the Vancouver Sun", Vaughn Palmer, writes that the men's defence "will be to say that anything they did was undertaken with the knowledge [Palmer doesn't say "at the direction"] of their political masters". (Vanc. Sun, Sept 19, 07,A3).

A normally intelligent population - not CanWest monopoly press/media - has consistently asked the question: if persons employed by policy makers move to assist/further/change policy, would they not be doing so in concert with those who employ them? Indeed, more than once the public has been told, it seems, that Dave Basi informed another aide that the Minister of Finance of the day had given the go-ahead on what may have been, it is claimed, an allegedly improper action or set of actions. Has Gary Collins been investigated? Not that we know.

And so it goes. On the advice of RCMP officers, apparently, Kevin Falcon, Minister of Transportation, withdrew an allegedly tainted deal for the sale of a rail spur line to Roberts Bank. Did Falcon know anything that would lead reasonable British Columbians to believe he was aware of what might be allegedly tainted uncertainties BEFORE the RCMP "advised" him? No investigation of Kevin Falcon has been undertaken as far as the public can know.

Indeed, one of the markers of the case beginning as early as 2003 was the blunt statement by the RCMP that no elected official was under investigation. Why not? The question screams in the background of every step in the process being undertaken before Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett. Only weeks ago I put the question to her, formally, in a letter.

The question is an eminently fair one. If men are accused of criminal acts, and if their fate, freedom, and fair trial depend upon knowing if other, senior, policy-making colleagues appear also to be guilty and perhaps, even, appear to be originators of unlawful action, isn't it the responsibility of the judge seized with the matter to instruct the Special Crown Prosecutor to direct the RCMP to widen the investigative net and to lay charges where warranted if and as they bear on the fate, freedom, and fair trial of the men already accused? Doesn't a fair trial demand that?

The court officer who answered for Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett informed me (a) Justice Bennett did not read the letter (b) nor did the court officer tell her what is in the letter (c) except for one matter Justice Bennett was willing to address.

By that means Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett was able to ignore a major, nagging, and imperative question about the proceedings around the corrupt sale of B.C. Rail.

Vaughn Palmer, the man I call "Gordon Campbell's personal representative at the Vancouver Sun" does his work well. He assures his readers of something no one can know for sure - "the judge's determination to go ahead." That is "not in doubt", Palmer asserts. Dealing with her "order" without termination date that "every piece of paper associated with the investigation [must] be turned over to the defence 'forthwith'", Palmer makes excuses for the delay that has continued as if Madam Justice Bennett didn't utter the word so beloved of Gordon Campbell admirers: "forthwith".

Order something "forthwith", they say. Order that homelessness in B.C. cease "forthwith". Order that privatized seniors' homes are well run "forthwith". Order that the Labour Relations Board and the Public Utilities Commission become honest "forthwith". Then do nothing, and everyone will know vital change has come about.

The joke that isn't a joke is that "forthwith", like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Madam Justice Brenda Brown, for example, commanded that all demonstrations against the U.S. corporation wrecking West Vancouver's Eagle Ridge Bluff must cease "forthwith". When they didn't cease immediately, she lay about her like a mediaeval prince, smiting the recalcitrant on all sides. In her eagerness to have "forthwith" mean "now", she sent Harriett Nahanee, a sick and aged Native elder to a prison the judge was told was unsuitable. Some days later Nahanee was taken from that "hellhole" to Vancouver General Hospital to die.

A number of us wrote a Complaint about Madam Justice Brenda Brown's conduct to the Canadian Judicial Council, expecting consideration and a thorough investigation "forthwith". But the word seems to give the CJC the same trouble it does to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett. Six months have passed and the Canadian Judicial Council is still, apparently, combing through the Oxford English Dictionary to find a meaning of the word "forthwith" that will give it an excuse to avoid ever investigating the conduct of Madam Justice Brenda Brown.

Joking aside, reasonable and prudent Canadians (unlike Vaughn Palmer) may be perplexed at Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett's failure to make "forthwith" mean "now", with her failure to 'Brenda Brown' the people who are clearly failing to move with expeditiousness to produce materials asked for, and with her apparent unwillingness to ask for a widened investigation. Those Canadians, I suspect, cannot with the joie de vivre, with the smug self-confidence of Vaughn Palmer, say they are assured of "the judge's determination to go ahead."

The question becomes larger. Why - British Columbians have asked - why does Defence seem to ask, almost every time they arrive at court, for more disclosure of materials that may be needed for fair trial of their clients? On and on and on? Could it be that the situation would look very different, that the processes would have been significantly faster, that the trial would be over by now instead of perpetually looming if more people had been investigated fully and then either declared clean or charged? Could it be that a failure of investigation is at the root of the repeated applications by Defence for disclosure of materials? Is it possible that the Defence is fighting a case where only some of the allegations of wrong-doing have been brought forward? If that is true, it helps to explain crippling delay in the processes arising out of the corrupt sale of BC Rail.

That having been said, the idea that Vaughn Palmer is looking towards, in the near future -"accusation [by the Defence] of cover-up and withholding evidence" on the part of the premier and his ministers - should not be an idea that is even possible to entertain. This trial will be one of the most important in British Columbia history. It may involve deeply improper actions by elected officials in the highest trust positions. It may, in fact, involve the necessary invalidation of all their actions at the time of the sale of B.C. Rail and after as politicians acting in trust on behalf of British Columbians.

The absolute responsibility of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett is that she makes known now that any cover-up, delay, obfuscation, or other kind of withholding of evidence by any government person will bring a swift and tough 'Brenda Brown' series of contempt citations, jail terms, and more.

If innocent environmentalists can feel the lash of judicial anger when they fail to follow an order "forthwith", surely trust holders in democratic society who may be impeding the disclosure of criminal acts against the Public Good must face even greater judicial anger and action.

Only when Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett shows that 'sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander', that justice is even handed, that members of the B.C. Provincial Cabinet of Gordon Campbell and their civil servants are equal with demonstrating environmentalists in the eyes of the Supreme Court of B.C. - only then need anyone believe that "the judge's determination to go ahead is not in doubt".

As a footnote, British Columbians may laugh at the Black Humour of Madam Justice Brenda Brown rushing sick, aged Harriett Nahanee to an unsuitable prison (soon followed, after the court's decision, to Nahanee's death) in order to show that "justice plays no favourites". For the Canadian Judicial Council - the eminent body headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverly McLaughlin - justice is in the process of visibly showing favourites, month after month after month, in its failure to deal decisively (impartially and fairly) with the complaint against Madam Justice Brenda Brown herself.

It's called "Justice in Lotus Land" - and, alas, "Justice in Canada".



Official climb-down begins + updates


CanWest News Service: Friday, October 19, 2007

VICTORIA - B.C.'s police watchdog is reviewing allegations against Victoria police Chief Paul Battershill to determine whether or not to order a police act investigation.

"I'm not going to jump to conclusions," said Police Complaint Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld. {Snip} ...

Police act investigations are not criminal investigations. Ryneveld has to determine if any of the allegations against Battershill amount to Police Act public trust defaults.

Under the B.C. Police Act code of professional conduct regulations, these defaults include abuse of authority, discreditable conduct, neglect of duty, deceit, corrupt practice and improper disclosure of information.

"If it's management style, it might not be a police act default at all," said Ryneveld. "People might not like the decisions you are entitled to make, but annoyance doesn't equate to a default."


More secrecy ...


Commissioner refuses to discuss unspecified allegations against Paul Battershill

CanWest News Service - October 27, 2007

VICTORIA - B.C.'s police watchdog has ordered an investigation into allegations against Victoria police Chief Paul Battershill, who has been on administrative leave since Oct. 11.

Police Complaints Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld said in a news release Friday the RCMP will conduct an external Police Act investigation into unspecified allegations.

Reached by phone, Ryneveld refused to add anything to his statement.

"In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, no public comment beyond this statement will be made by my office regarding this matter," the news release said.

"For the same purpose, the RCMP, the mayor of the City of Victoria, the Victoria Police Board and the Victoria Police Department have been asked to refrain from any public comment." {Snip} ...

The chief and his wife, Brenda, put their new James Bay home up for sale on Monday. The house is listed at $795,000.

It's now up to the police board to decide if Battershill will remain on administrative leave, be suspended or be reinstated while the investigation proceeds.


October 28, 2007:

RCMP will investigate allegations

Embattled Battershill facing probe in Victoria

Stuart Hunter,
The Province - Sunday, October 28, 2007

Allegations of misconduct against embattled Victoria police chief Paul Battershill will be investigated, says B.C.'s police watchdog.

Police complaint commissioner Dirk Ryneveld said Friday that RCMP in Vancouver will conduct an external Police Act probe into unspecified allegations.

Ryneveld, who made the statement via a news release, is not publicly commenting on the allegations against Battershill. {Snip} ...

"In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, no public comment beyond this statement will be made by my office regarding this matter," Ryneveld said in his release.

"For the same purpose, the RCMP, the mayor of the city of Victoria, the Victoria Police Board and the Victoria Police Department have been asked to refrain from any public comment."

Now in his eighth year as chief, Battershill has been told by his lawyer not to speak to the media. {Snip} ...

Victoria lawyer David Mulroney [failed BC Liberal candidate for Saanich-The Islands] filed several Freedom of Information requests with Victoria police in September on behalf of his client, who reports have named as local developer Gerald Hartwig.

Mulroney has received documents relating to the chief's expense accounts, employment contracts and employee dismissal and suspensions, but is still awaiting documents pertaining to employees dismissed without cause and to severance packages.

A law firm representing Battershill tried to block Mulroney's FOI requests, prompting an emergency police board meeting on Oct. 10.

The next day, Battershill was placed on administrative leave, which will be reviewed when Mayor Alan Lowe returns from a business trip to Thailand
on Nov. 3.

Police Act probes aren't criminal investigations but examine possible violations of public trust such as abuse of authority, discreditable conduct, deceit, neglect of duty, improper disclosure of information and corrupt practice.




Call me naive, but I have this tremendous confidence in a failed B.C. Liberal candidate and a developer. Sheesh. - BC Mary.