Thursday, February 28, 2008


BC Mary in The Globe and Mail

Riding Bill Tieleman's coat-tails

To the sound of (my own) trumpet being blown ... and despite the insults, which I graciously accept because Robin Mathews once told me that people in Show Biz say, "a pan is as good as a rave" ... and Bill says "any publicity is good publicity" and a couple of other quotes are: "Mary, we must be getting to them!" ... here is BC Mary's entry into The Globe and Mail (if you scroll way, way down) :

For this blogger, this case has just about everything
Covert photos. Mysterious witnesses. A billion dollars. 'We just need to add some sex and it would be perfect'


Special to The Globe and Mail; tom [sic]
February 27, 2008

VICTORIA -- The click-clicking of computer keys could be heard on the other end of the telephone line.

"I'm posting a Basi-Virk blog item as we speak. No rest for the wicked," Bill Tieleman said. He paused. "Four years without rest."

Sure enough, another 1,000-word item popped up on Most of it was the draft Hansard text of a statement in the legislature in which several newspaper articles were cited, as well as Mr. Tieleman's blog. {Snip} ...

"It's a frustrating case to cover," Mr. Tieleman said. "It's very complex. At times it moves at a glacial pace and other times it's an avalanche."

Mr. Tieleman, 51, is one of the regulars. The other reporters frequently in attendance are Neal Hall of the Vancouver Sun, Camille Bains of The Canadian Press, and Mark Hume of this newspaper. Robin Mathews, a retired professor notorious for his long-running battles with the Canadian literary establishment, writes incendiary postings from the court for, which are reprinted at "The Legislature Raids" blog by a tireless champion of the case known by her online pseudonym of BC Mary. This week, Mr. Mathews suggests the Gordon Campbell government may be an illegitimate rogue state. He also called for the removal from the case of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

Mr. Mathews's cynicism about the judiciary is never far from the surface and BC Mary's conspiratorial musings about the motives of CanWest journalists are pointlessly distracting. Still, this is a case where even so sober a commentator as Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer warned the Premier earlier this month about avoiding "suspicions of cover-up." {Snip} ...

[Bill Tieleman] has been a columnist for nine years, including stints with the National Post and the Georgia Straight. Before that, he worked the morning shift at the Vancouver Sun back in the days when it cranked out three editions for afternoon sales. He remembers city editor Jack Brooks, a Fleet Street refugee, pointing at his wristwatch while barking, "Chop, chop, mate, where's the bloody story?!"

Mr. Tieleman knows a good story. He was born into one. His father, who fought in the Dutch resistance, was the navigator aboard the fabled RCMP schooner St. Roch on its final crossing of the Northwest Passage in 1954. [Bill corrects this, on his blog. It was the final-ever voyage of the St Roch. - BC Mary]

In between bouts of journalism, Mr. Tieleman worked as communications director for then-NDP-premier Glen Clark for six months and handled communications for the B.C. Federation of Labour for six years. He will mark the 10th anniversary of launching his West Star Communications consultancy later this year.

Mr. Tieleman was on holiday in Seattle in the last days of 2003 when his cellphone began ringing like a fire bell. The RCMP and Victoria police had raided offices at the legislature. A quick Google search of the principals involved brought up a Tieleman column from the Georgia Straight in which he described the connections between Paul Martin's federal Liberals and Mr. Campbell's provincial Liberals. Every reporter in the country wanted background for a story that, as we say in the business, has all the elements.

"It's got everything you'd want if you cover politics. Massive amounts of money. A billion-dollar privatization. Allegations of cover-ups reaching right into the premier's office. Missing notes, missing hard drives, secret witnesses. It has the potential to bring down a government.

"We just need to add some sex and it would be perfect."

When the court debates lag, Mr. Tieleman allows himself to be amused by imagining what would certainly be a highlight of a trial - former finance minister Gary Collins in the witness box testifying about a meal with railway executives at the posh Villa del Lupo restaurant, during which he unknowingly was watched and photographed by RCMP investigators.

"That alone is worth waiting for," he said.

In another bizarre twist to a story with no shortage of them, Mr. Tieleman went to work one day in December only to discover his office had been ransacked. Bookcases had been tipped over and papers strewn, but nothing was missing. To top it off, a press kit for the self-published novel The Raid, written by a retired military officer in Metchosin and featuring on its cover a photograph from the 2003 police raid, had been left in a conspicuous place.

That startled someone not given to conspiracy theories.

Another casualty of the never-ending case has been Mr. Tieleman's other blog in which he posts as the Wine Barbarian, an oenophile (which I believe is ancient Greek for wino) who helps discover "good, quaffable wine at reasonable prices." The blog's philosophy can be summed up in a single paragraph in one of the only two entries he has had time to post: "Enough talk - let's have a drink!" That could serve as a motto for those die-hards following the strange case.

Just a thought: while it may not have been regular sex between consenting adults, many British Columbians certainly figure they were screwed by the "sale" of BC Rail. - BC Mary.



Vaughn Palmer weighs in ...

Legislature raid case provokes a departure from tradition

Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun - Thursday, February 28, 2008

VICTORIA - Deputy attorney-general Allan Seckel issued a rare statement this week ... {Snip}

Governments can assert the privilege or waive it. But for all cabinet material arising out of the legislature raid case, the Liberals have delegated the call to Seckel.

"As a result of this exercise of my responsibility," he wrote Tuesday, "I am satisfied that as of [today] there are no documents that have not been disclosed based on any assertion of cabinet privilege."

Seckel didn't say why he had not asserted cabinet privilege. But as I understand it, the key consideration is whether disclosure would harm the public interest by revealing confidential financial information or the details of a deal that was still in the works.

As most of the documents relating to this case predate the legislature raid in December 2003, Seckel concluded there was no longer any legitimate basis for concern about untimely disclosure. {Snip} ...

Over to you, Mr. Krog. He spoke to reporters Wednesday afternoon after the Seckel letter was released to the public.

"I accept the face value of Mr. Seckel's reply," the NDP MLA told reporters. "I had no intention to attack his integrity."

As for Illington, Krog believes she is "an outstanding public servant," and "she would do absolutely the right thing."

So if Seckel is clean and Illington is clean, where's the opening for any political interference in the withholding of documents?

There was "the process" itself, Krog replied. Plus the Liberal delay in sharing information with the public. And the prospect, acknowledged by Seckel, that some material may be withheld on grounds of solicitor-client privilege.

On the latter point, Seckel says "there has been no attempt by anyone to influence my decisions on legal privilege, either."

Not good enough, Krog insisted. He says he may lay out his concerns in a return letter to Seckel, thus providing another episode in this never-ending story.

But in my reading, the deputy attorney-general's letter has diminished one of the outstanding concerns in this case, that cabinet secrecy would be invoked to prevent evidence from being aired in court.



Bad, ba-a-ad BC Opposition ... but apart from that, Les Leyne tells us one very interesting thing ...


Les Leyne
Times Colonist - Thursday, February 28, 2008

{Snippppp} ... Whatever hang-ups there have been about the defence getting access to documents, it doesn't look like they're arising in Victoria. They're occurring in the Vancouver courthouse where this case has been bouncing futilely around the calendar. {Snip} ...


Tuesday, February 26, 2008


BC Opposition makes a point. CanWest goes into action!

Dear Les Leyne:

If I were your mother, god forbid, I would insist that you quit your job before irrevocable damage is done to your mental health. Today in Times Colonist you have written one of the worst Basi-Virk columns I have ever seen.

You even include the term "somewhat bogus" when referring to proper objections made by the gentle, do-nothing BC Opposition. Is your salary calculated on a pay-per-insult basis?

What really assaults a reader is your twisting, dodging, and manipulating the real news. I mean, how swiftly you skip over this significant nugget:

" ... Dragged into the fray, Seckel said Monday the protocol was set up soon after the raid because the B.C. Rail deal was still actively under consideration by cabinet. It hadn't been decided yet ..."

You're telling us that the BCRail deal had NOT been finalized at the time of the raid on the Legislature? That it could have been stopped, just as Roberts Bank was stopped?
And that the privileged documents will explain to the public why -- under such a cloud of extreme suspicion -- the Campbell Cabinet chose to push it through?

Call your mother, Les.

- BC Mary.


Les Leyne Times Colonist - Tuesday, February 26, 2008

There's one sidelight to the epic Basi-Virk corruption case that's almost as compelling as the main event. [Blah blah blah] {Snip} ...

Dragged into the fray, Seckel [
Allan Seckel, deputy attorney-general] said Monday the protocol was set up soon after the raid because the B.C. Rail deal was still actively under consideration by cabinet. It hadn't been decided yet.

Read Les Leyne's full column at: """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
Les: Your poor Mom might also point out a much better example ...


The Globe and Mail - February 26, 2008

VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s Opposition wants the Premier to apologize "for misleading the House" about documents involved in a political corruption case.

Leonard Krog, NDP critic of the Attorney-General's ministry, sent a letter to Speaker Bill Barisoff questioning the way the government handled access to the confidential documents.

Mr. Krog also filed a notice of motion yesterday asking that Premier Gordon Campbell be directed to apologize over the matter. {Snip} ...

But Les, if you decide to keep trying to be a real journalist, your Mom might talk to you about the way Michael Smyth has turned himself around, as follows:

Authority later transferred

Michael Smyth, Special to The Province, February 26, 2008

The 2003 police raid on the B.C. legislature was one of those only-in-B.C. moments that seem exclusive to our crazy political culture.

I thought I'd seen everything the day the cops raided Glen Clark's house with a TV camera crew filming through his kitchen window. Then the police go and bust the legislature and haul away dozens of boxes of evidence and computer hard drives! (Yup, the cameras were on hand there, too.)

But while TV viewers were treated to yet another B.C. spectacle, a circus of a different sort was unfolding behind the scenes: An internal struggle over evidence and whether some documents should be kept out of court because of parliamentary secrecy.

The legislature raid was the climax of a long police investigation into possible corruption in the government's sale of B.C. Rail. Three former senior government insiders now stand accused of accepting bribes, influence-peddling and money-laundering in a case set to go to trial later this year.

In a column last week, I told you how the Gordon Campbell government has fought to keep some evidence in the case secret, citing lawyer-client privilege or rarely invoked cabinet privilege.

Who in government makes the call on which evidence is kept under wraps? Amazingly, for more than three years, this responsibility was given to senior bureaucrats close to Campbell's office: Joy Illington and, later, Elizabeth MacMillan, both of whom served as deputy secretaries of the cabinet.

Can you see the problem here? It is absolutely reckless for the premier's office to be even remotely connected to any decisions that could amount to suppression of evidence.

Campbell himself decided to fix this. Last year, he transferred authority for review of the government papers to deputy attorney-general Allan Seckel.

Seckel explained it to me this way: "At first it was a very clinical thing -- the police asking to see documents as part of their investigation. That responsibility would traditionally fall on the cabinet secretary or their deputy.

"But then the defence started to raise allegations which had suggestions of political interference . . . Suddenly it went from clinical thing . . . [to a] concern that someone might be politically interfering in the decision as to which documents get disclosed.

"There was a concern that, as this appeared to be getting a political life to it, that it would be prudent to not have the premier's office involved."

Here's the flaw in this logic: This case had a "political life to it" from the moment cops marched into the legislature with a search warrant on Dec. 28, 2003.

All of this hit the fan at the legislature yesterday, when NDP justice critic Leonard Krog raised a formal motion calling on Campbell to apologize for misleading the assembly.

That's because Campbell told the legislature last May that Seckel has sole authority to review any documents in the trial with no interference from anyone else, especially politicians. What Campbell didn't mention was that he had personally given Seckel this responsibility only weeks earlier, over concerns that the whole process was getting too close to the premier's office.

PS. Michael, I hope you'll forgive me for posting your entire column. It's a good one. It helps us understand what's going on, in the Basi-Virk affair. So I didn't want to leave any of it out. It isn't often I get to say such a thing about a CanWest news item. Thanks!
- BC Mary.

A very important point has been added in Comments by "PG", as follows:


You have missed the key point in the Seckel spin. How can the Deputy Attorney General explain why George Copley stated in court that "... the Premier has not got that quite right."

You may remember that Copley quoted the Premier's exchange from May 2007 into the court record during the December 2007 hearing for the disclosure of government emails and records.

Reading the Hansard exchange into the court record was described by Bill Tieleman as a "suprising move". Mr. T is too kind.

If the MSM had been more diligent in covering this trial, the government and the Special Prosecutor would not be dragging their feet on providing evidence that the Supreme Court determined involves "innocence at stake".

Les Leyne and others from the MSM should attend court to fully understand what is transpiring here.

February 26, 2008 8:57 AM


Monday, February 25, 2008


NDP allege Campbell misled legislature

Opposition New Democrats allege Campbell misled legislature on raid documents

Dirk Meissner
THE CANADIAN PRESS - February 25, 2008

VICTORIA - British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell should apologize for misleading the legislature about government documents related to the controversial 2003 raid on the legislature, say the Opposition New Democrats. {Snip} ...

Under Opposition questioning last spring, Campbell told the legislature that his office was not directly involved in reviewing any documents related to the upcoming trial.

Now the New Democrats claim there was a government protocol in place that permitted the cabinet secretary to review documents.

NDP member Leonard Krog submitted a motion to the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform and Ethical Conduct on Monday asking the committee to force Campbell to apologize to the legislature for the misleading statements made last May.

"The premier knowingly misled the house on May 28, 2007 by stating that the premier's office was not involved in the review of documents when he knew that a process that included the premier's office was in place since 2004 and continued until at least July 2007," said Krog's notice of motion.

Outside of the legislature Krog was not as forceful, saying "the premier has something to answer for."

See also the HANSARD record of debate shown in Comments section of BC Rail Scandal's 'Moment of Truth' (below).

It looks as if the Basi-Virk story "has legs" at long last. It's nice to see that this Meissner article is also being picked up by others, such as:



BC Rail Scandal's 'moment of truth'

The Fall of a Court.
On February 20, the BC Rail Scandal experienced its "moment of truth".

By Robin Mathews

Related to the fraud and breach of trust charges against Order in Council-appointed Gordon Campbell cabinet aides Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, and Aneal Basi, February 20 delivered up a revealing and explosive document: a particularly important, January 4 Defence Application for Disclosure of evidence.

The document opens painful questions about the honesty and legitimacy of the Gordon Campbell government and the proper separation of police, cabinet, court, and lawyers engaged with the public's business.

It opens questions that no one among the chattering classes (so far) wants even to mention, about the growth of an incipient Police State in B.C. and Canada. It opens related questions about the legitimacy of the higher courts in Canada - especially, in this case, the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

As a mere footnote to that last point, the explosive nature of the released January 4 Application for Disclosure highlights the danger in the court's continuing refusal to release material on the public record to the public. If the fifteen page document released on February 20 has explosive implications, what - we may ask - is present in the hundreds of pages on public record that Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett is keeping from public view?

Arising from the corrupt (and still partly secret) sale of BC Rail, an honest and open investigation and examination of all the evidence might well be enough to force the resignation of the Gordon Campbell government.

Think of it. At the moment, now, the Gordon Campbell government may be illegitimate, a "rogue state", a government acting behind a barrier constructed to obscure its fraudulent status.

In such a dramatic and important situation - focused in a set of court processes - reasonable people quite fairly expect the court to move in an organized, competent, timely, and visibly meaningful way. They expect the presiding judge to iron out wrinkles in procedure, to undo log jams in communication, to make sure evidence required arrives promptly in effective form, and to move pre-trial hearings to a smooth and timely conclusion so that the trial, proper, may begin.

Those things have simply not happened in the Bask, Virk, and Basi case, a case staggering and lurching, scarcely moving forward in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

The January 4 document lists serious failures on the part of the Special Crown Prosecutor to present evidence called for. It lists presentation of evidence without proper (or sometimes any) indexing, failures to explain anomalies, incorrect verbal information being given and possible other (not yet known) verbal misinformation having been given by the Special Crown Prosecutor. It lists what appears plainly to be missing material, late or spotty presentation of material, failure to provide "information relevant to the abuse of process allegations", - and more.

Failures of organized, competent, and visibly meaningful disclosure are listed through 69 particular items presented in the January 4 Application for Disclosure filed by the Defence.

The January 4 document constitutes, in fact, a scathing denunciation of the long, long, long pre-trial process so far undergone. And it forces reasonable Canadians to recognize that something is deeply and fundamentally wrong. For reasonable Canadians the January 4 Application for Disclosure is truly a "moment of truth". No longer can the "You don't understands", the "ifs" and the "buts" and the arguments that "court processes are complicated" work to head off criticism.

A school child reading the January 4 Application for Disclosure would see plainly that the Supreme Court of British Columbia is seriously failing justice and the people of the Province.

Is the Special Crown Prosecutor dragging his feet? Is he purposefully failing to organize material and ready it for the Defence? Is he urging the RCMP to keep material back? Or is he looking the other way when the RCMP prepares material inadequately? Is he taking as his primary task the delay and obfuscation of what ordinary people think of as "due process of law"? Are those his instructions?

Does the RCMP - in this case - have reasons of its own to block, disarrange, and impair the proceedings? Is the RCMP an entity which has contempt for the powers of the Supreme Court of British Columbia? Does it consider itself outside the scope of jurisdiction of the higher courts of Canada? Is the RCMP delaying the process under orders? From someone?

Is counsel for the Gordon Campbell cabinet throwing sand into the machine purposefully, preventing movement forward? Has he been ordered to do that?

All of those questions and many others may perfectly reasonably surface in the minds of ordinary Canadians.

They are important questions. But all of them are subordinate to the Number One Question.

Why is Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett permitting the disarray, the failure to comply with her court orders, the apparently alarming failures on the part of the Special Crown Prosecutor and (through him) the RCMP to complete tasks, to report information, to give up materials in an organized, timely, and credible fashion? Why is Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett permitting the chaotic and destructive delay that marks the process over which she presides?

That is the fundamental question.

She is key to almost all the failures cited in the January 4 Application for Disclosure and, as a result, is now, herself - I say this with respect - in question, front and centre.

Return for a moment to the 15 page, January 4 Application for Disclosure. It begins by claiming that "notwithstanding the Court's Order of June 4, 2007, neither full disclosure has been made nor has the Court's Order been complied with". Later, [# 59] Defence again refers to neglect by the Special Crown Prosecutor of "the Court's June 4, 2007 Order." And again [#62] Defence writes: "Notwithstanding repeated Court Orders with respect to providing meaningful indexes of materials ... indexes ... are not helpful [and are] unusable without opening each individual document". Regarding matters concerning "star witness" Erik Bornmann [#67], Defence writes: "To date, the Special Prosecutor has not complied with this part of the June 4, 2007 Order".

The opening of the Application for Disclosure makes a blanket statement of failure to comply with the Court's Order. At specific places in the document that blanket statement is given special application.

Concluding the Application, Defence seeks relief by asking for 13 Court Orders. At least six of the requested Orders, as I read them, deal with information in the possession of the RCMP that Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, in court, called for "forthwith" months and months ago. Others among the remaining requests for Orders reiterate matters covered earlier in the hearings.

What conclusions may reasonable Canadians come to? First, that Court Orders from the presiding judge are all but ignored by the Special Crown Prosecutor and the RCMP. They defy her orders so visibly and consistently - as far as an ordinary Canadian can see - that reasonable people may conclude they are in contempt of court.

But the presiding judge does not cite them with contempt of court, nor does she even upbraid them publicly for failing to comply with Court Orders. This observer is convinced (as I believe the Special Crown Prosecutor and the RCMP must be) that her Court Orders are meaningless gestures undertaken, perhaps, to provide "news" for the members of the press sitting in the gallery.

Secondly, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, herself, seems to place no value upon the Orders she issues. She suffers their violation with imperturbability. As I see things, she does almost nothing to assure the integrity of the court process.

There may be any number of reasons why she avoids enforcing her Court Orders. The reasons may be psychological, temperamental, ideological, political, or other. Whatever the reason, her failure, I believe - I say this with respect - seriously impairs what may be to the British Columbia population the most important trial in the Province's history.

For that reason I think she must, with respect, be asked to step down, must be asked to leave the case, must be declared unable to continue in the role of presiding judge. As long as she remains in that position, I believe the case will be seen, more and more, as an embarrassing and destructive farce. British Columbians would be acting with perfect prudence, I believe, in going - in droves - to the next hearing on the BC Rail Scandal, rising in the court, asking for standing, receiving it, and, one by one, requesting - with respect - that Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett vacate the position of presiding judge, for the sake of the credibility and the integrity of justice and the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

The BC Rail Scandal court process has become a tragic joke, bringing justice and the Supreme Court of British Columbia into growing disrepute. The failure to get the simplest production of evidence without delay, obstruction, posturing - impediments of all kinds - is making the Supreme Court of British Columbia appear a bastion of protection for wrong-doers and for those who would efface the fundamental freedoms of Canadians. Almost all of the impediments to a clean, competent, and timely process, I believe, must be laid at the door of the presiding judge.

The moment of truth has arrived. Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett must go.



Sunday, February 24, 2008


Impersonators. Imposters.

It's Sunday and after the brief kerfuffle on Bill Tieleman's blog yesterday, I'm still thinking about anonymity and what it means.

For bloggers, I like to think it's a protective measure, shielding friends, neighbours, relatives, employees from embarrassment or repercussions if they want to give voice to some
true thoughts or speculation on a number of subjects. The way I see it, anonymity in blogger-world is a good thing because it can lead to freer speech and deeper thoughts.

I especially like anonymity with a User Name -- not for personal identity -- but so that we can follow each train of thought. Like for PG, Kootcoot, Lynx, etc.

This web-site receives excellent contributions from completely Anonymous contributors. I read them all before they are posted and if any comments fail the smell-test, they are deleted.

One of my favourite commentors is earseyeswideopen. Special note: that's ears and eyes, both wide open. This person has been a loyal supporter of this web-site, has given us valuable information, and has encouraged our efforts to follow the issues surrounding BC Rail.

So yesterday I knew something was wrong when I encountered eyeswideopen [Special note: that's "eyes" only] on Bill Tieleman's web-site. Check that again: eyeswideopen. Did you think it was our old friend? Some people did ... even though it isn't quite the same User Name, was harshly critical of the RCMP, and has a generally nasty tone. Such as:

Mary your tirades clearly suggest that by virtue of the fact basi and virk were investigated and charged they must be guilty. Go back and check your own words. This is your analysis.

Nobody who reads The Legislature Raids could believe that accusation to be true. Readers know that, from Day One, I have deleted any comment if it even suggests guilt. So obviously this imposter doesn't read this web-site but (my guess) is only following orders.

You might call that an imposter. Or an impersonator. Or a Media Monitor - someone who is on salary to distribute propaganda. Their "job" is to manipulate the truth, for some unknown person's specific purpose. In other words, to double-cross the very citizens who might well be paying their salaries.

Don't tell me not to bother with these people or their messages. Or, stated another way: please don't imagine that there's only one, two, ten, or 50 of these Media Monitors operating in B.C.

Don't tell me that political parties always do this. Try to understand that there were 185 new "Public Affairs Officers" appointed in September 2006 under Order-in-Council #656. That's in addition to the ones added later, and the ones already on the provincial government payroll. At a guess, let's say 300 people whose salaries are paid by the BC taxpayers. What are they all doing?

We know, for example, that Dave Basi was staging phone-in and heckling campaigns for the Minister of Finance, Gary Collins. We know that Basi reported at least once by telephone to the premier on these successful enterprises.

This isn't even political campaigning, bad as that would be if done by government employees on the public payroll. No, this is worse, if in fact government is trying to control the free domain of public thought.

And yesterday's example suggests that this rotten system of thought-control is still functioning in B.C. Pity.

The real earseyeswideopen had the last word on Bill Tieleman's blog:

earseyeswideopen said...

I want it to be made clear that I am NOT 'eyes wide open' ...

For whatever reasons someone would use an identity so close as to appear to be my comment, I am NOT amused.

I chose my blogger identity a long time ago & ask that that person above please select another name to post under.


Well said, earseyeswideopen! - BC Mary.


Friday, February 22, 2008


Rich Coleman 'intervened' with RCMP

Someone on The Tyee mentioned a web-site which looks well-run and informative. Here is a sample from their collection. - BC Mary.

Solicitor-general ‘intervened’ with RCMP, court told

Mark Hume, Globe and Mail - May 4, 2007

The solicitor-general of British Columbia “intervened” in a politically explosive RCMP investigation by heading off police before they could interview one of the most powerful members of cabinet, the Supreme Court of British Columbia was told yesterday.

Defence lawyer Michael Bolton said an RCMP investigative team was set to fly to Hawaii to track down Gary Collins, then finance minister, the day after police raided the B.C. Legislature on Dec. 28, 2003.

The police wanted to tackle Mr. Collins with questions about his trusted ministerial aide, Dave Basi, as soon as possible after the raid, which generated massive news coverage in B.C.
Police, who at the time were investigating alleged breaches of trust by Mr. Basi and two other civil servants in the privatization of BC Rail, also intended to interview transportation minister Judith Reid, who was holidaying on the islands.

But Mr. Bolton said police decided not to go, even though they had cleared their Hawaii visit with the FBI attaché in Vancouver, after solicitor-general Rich Coleman’s office contacted senior officers.

“The government is concerned that Collins and Reid could inadvertently expose cabinet confidences,” said an RCMP briefing note on the solicitor- general’s concerns, which Mr. Bolton read in court.

“The solicitor-general intervened,” Mr. Bolton said. “The solicitor-general has become very involved in the investigation. … [He’s] making investigative decisions such as when to interview Mr. Collins.”

Mr. Bolton said police didn’t take a statement from Mr. Collins until some two months later.

Mr. Coleman, who is now forests minister, rejected the allegation. “I’m not going to comment on what’s before the courts, but I can tell you at no time during my time as the solicitor-general of this province did I influence any police investigation,” Mr. Coleman told CTV in Victoria.

But in court, Mr. Bolton read parts of a statement Mr. Collins gave police in which he said one of the first people he called when he heard about the legislature search was Mr. Coleman.

“I am politically astute enough to know that this is a really, really, really bad thing,” Mr. Collins said of the search. “So I managed to track down the solicitor-general … [who said] it had something to do with organized crime.” {Snip} ...

The trial, which is giving glimpses into the backroom operations of the Liberals in B.C., has produced numerous allegations of political dirty tricks being directed by Dave Basi with the approval of Mr. Collins and top officials in Premier Gordon Campbell’s office.

Yesterday, a new assertion was made, that Pilothouse paid the mayor of Quesnel to attack CN in the local media. Mr. Bolton said Pilothouse, on behalf of OmniTRAX, paid Stephen Wallace $1,000, by writing a cheque to Wallace Driving School.

Court heard that Mr. Wallace, who is no longer mayor, said in a statement to police that he was paid $500 a day “to sample public opinion.”

Mr. Bolton said a Pilothouse note to OmniTRAX states: “Our friend understands where this originates from and is grateful. He went to the local media … and said CN will close the [BC Rail] line.”

The case is expected to continue until the fall.



Premier should stay clear of B.C. Rail case

Let officials screening papers do their job

Michael Smyth
The Province - February 22, 2008

It's been over four years since the cops raided the legislature in the B.C. Rail corruption probe, and still the criminal case against three government insiders is snaking slowly through the courts.

One of the holdups in the potentially explosive case has been the reluctance of the Gordon Campbell government to release secret B.C. Rail documents to defence lawyers.

One crucial e-mail, for example, could potentially decide the outcome of the whole trial, according to Justice Elizabeth Bennett. But the government is fighting to keep that e-mail secret, citing solicitor-client privilege. {Snip} ...

Two senior bureaucrats from Campbell's office -- Joy Illington and, later, Elizabeth MacMillan -- were assigned the task. But that changed last year over concerns the process looked too cozy.

"There was a concern . . . as this appeared to be getting a political life to it, that it would be prudent to not have the premier's office involved in any way in these decisions," deputy attorney-general Allan Seckel told me yesterday.

Seckel said the premier assigned him to take over reviewing the secret evidence.

"It was to avoid any appearance that, because the decision-maker was so close to the premier . . . there might be some political interference -- even though there was none," Seckel said.

"I've been told that they [Illington and MacMillan] never asked a politician about any document."

It was certainly a good decision to move responsibility for reviewing evidence in this scandal out of the premier's office. But I'm frankly amazed anyone on Campbell's staff was involved in this in the first place.

Campbell insisted he has had no personal involvement in the case.

"We have taken every step we can so that there is no political interference," he told me.

But Campbell surprised me when he revealed he recently talked to Seckel about how the case was proceeding.

"It is interesting to know what's taking place on occasion," Campbell told me. "I asked [Seckel] within the last couple of weeks, 'What's going on?' He said, 'The judge has got all the documents. The judge is making the choices. That's what's happening.' I said, 'Fine.'"

Seckel confirmed that he had a "60-second" conversation with Campbell about the case, but insisted he has acted independently when it comes to reviewing potential evidence.

"We were going into a meeting and he said something about, 'How's it going?' And I said something to the effect of, 'Don't believe everything you read in the papers.' Then he said, 'Well, when this is all over, you can tell me about that.'

"I've never had a single conversation with the premier about any documents."

I have no reason to doubt that, but here's the bottom line: Officials in Campbell's office should never have been anywhere near this case. And Campbell should stop talking to Seckel about it.

The interest of justice demands it.


Thursday, February 21, 2008


Taxpayers' money, taxpayers' assets


Defence accuses Crown of continuing to withhold information

VANCOUVER -- .... A notice of application for disclosure, filed by lawyers for Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi, calls on the Supreme Court of British Columbia to make 13 separate orders for the disclosure of paper and electronic files held by the RCMP in the force's headquarters in both Vancouver and Ottawa.

The application was filed Jan. 4, but released by the court Tuesday. It states that although "there has been voluminous disclosure" of material recently, including 37,000 pages of documents and more than 5,000 e-mails, the Crown has failed to turn over all relevant material in the potentially explosive case. {Snip} ...

One recent disclosure included a DVD and CD containing material from the computer of Erik Bornmann, former communications director in British Columbia for the federal Liberal Party, and a public relations consultant in Victoria in 2003, when police raided the legislature offices of Dave Basi and Mr. Virk.

"There are in excess of 5,500 e-mails in the package. No index has been provided of these e-mails. Each e-mail must be opened individually to assess its content," the application states.

The defence says details on a "deal" the Crown struck with Mr. Bornmann have not been released, despite a June court order that that information be disclosed. [Emphasis mine. Isn't this "Contempt of court"? - BC Mary]

The defence also complains that only recently have some police investigators been identified, including a Sergeant Terrillon, whose notes "reflect meetings ... on subjects related to elected officials."

The application states the RCMP, and not the Crown, seems to be deciding what information to release and when.

"The reasonable inference to draw is that the Special Prosecutor is either delegating the disclosure obligation to the RCMP or is not committed to making the necessary efforts to gather and provide this information to the defence," the application states. {Snip} ...

The inadequacy of the disclosure process has been a long-running complaint of the defence team and is expected to lead to a pre-trial application for a stay of proceedings, on the grounds there has been an abuse of process.

Leonard Krog, NDP Opposition critic for the attorney-general, said yesterday the government should be taking steps to ensure that the trial stays on track and goes to court.

Although the government earlier this week waived cabinet privilege over some documents, he said more needs to be done to see that the defence, and the public, gets to see all the relevant material in the case.

"The government should start co-operating immediately," Mr. Krog said.

"You'd expect the deputy attorney-general to give immediate direction [to the Crown] for full disclosure.

"This isn't like an ordinary case. This is about taxpayers' money and taxpayers' assets," he said.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


BC Rail could've served Whistler at fraction of the cost of the Sea-to-Sky Highway expansion, notes Ontario. What? Ontario??

[Noted in passing, thanks to "Google Alerts for BCRail" - BC Mary]

Letters to the Editor
The Owen Sound Sun Times, Ontario


Thank you for printing Lynne Bewley's letter, "Sure could use a train around here" in the Feb. 14 edition of The Sun Times. She makes a very good point. It would be nice to have passenger (and freight rail) service return to Owen Sound. It never will.

When a railway line is abandoned, the rail is lifted from the right-of-way to supply material for rehabilitating freight yards and passing sidings along a profitable mainline. Some of it is sold to regional railways and some of the "high iron" is stored for future use. As the rail is lifted, the roadbed is damaged and level grade crossings are permanently paved over.

To restore such infrastructure would be prohibitively expensive unless our three levels of government had a cohesive national transportation policy that would redistribute subsidies and tax incentives to Via Rail and the freight railways to make such ventures worthwhile. Highways and airports would no longer have their exclusive "ticket to ride." Believe me, there is no such policy at any level with the exception of a few visionary municipalities.

Orangeville [Ontario] had the foresight to realize that investment in the existing Streetsville to Owen Sound Canadian Pacific Railway line was vital to its economy and future development. The mayor of Owen Sound at the time sloughed off the benefits of railway service with a few poorly thought-out remarks. Apparently the city council agreed with him. No effort was made to rally municipalities north of Orangeville to preserve freight service. Without freight service, there could never be a restoration of passenger service.

Looking farther afield, British Columbia is currently wasting billions of dollars on "improvements" to the famous Sea-to-Sky Highway in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The once provincially owned British Columbia Railway line from North Vancouver to Prince George runs parallel to this highway its entire distance. At a fraction of the investment, this active freight line could be upgraded, signals installed, passing sidings increased and an enlarged station site at Whistler could be created to accommodate the tens of thousands who will need reliable winter transportation to and from the Whistler area.

What B.C. residents are getting is a highway that will allow one segment of society (the well-to-do) a new highway that will get their SUVs to Whistler 15 minutes faster than they can now. Policy? No. It's madness from both an economical and environmental point of view.

Federally, we have boffins dreaming in European technicolour about a high-speed train service in the Quebec City to Windsor corridor and perhaps the Calgary to Edmonton corridor. Throwing several billions of dollars at such TGV-like technology might be appealing but it makes no sense, given that the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence lowlands do not and will not have the population density to support such gold plated systems for literally decades to come. Alberta will never have such densities.

However, we do have excellent railway technology right here in North America to produce passenger trains that can run on existing infrastructure and improved infrastructure at speeds in excess of 160 kilometres an hour or 100 miles per hour. A forward thinking (and yes, very brave) national railway policy with the feds and provinces participating would render unnecessary much of the highway expansion that has constantly failed to alleviate highway congestion. The immediate success of [Ontario's] new Go Train service from south Barrie to Toronto is an obvious case in point and is a credit to the City of Barrie's planning department.

As taxpayers and concerned citizens we need to realize that the age of the single occupancy auto is rapidly coming to an end. So are stand-alone truck trailers. We can't afford them economically or environmentally. ...

Enlarging existing highways and building new ones will never satisfy potential passenger or freight demands for the coming century in ways that are cost effective. By cost effective, I mean costing that insists on honest accounting principles that measure not only economic need but the impact of transportation corridors on our natural environment and the quality of life within the communities that these corridors intersect.

Of course highways are necessary. Improving their roadbeds, surfaces, shoulders, bridges and safety features is sensible and in the public interest. The problem is private drivers, courier services, truck and bus companies do not begin to pay the real cost of reconstruction and maintenance of existing highways let alone new ones. Reduce the public tax subsidies to highways and charge road use fees and rail service will suddenly look viable and attractive to a lot of the skeptics. A level playing field for the railways and Via Rail would be nice place to begin a real national transportation policy....

Peter Mussen
Owen Sound

Interesting, eh. And Peter Mussen hasn't even mentioned twinning the Port Mann bridge or the Fraser Perimeter Highway or the Deltaport expansion onto farmland or the Asian Gateway dream. Will the $100. cash gift to British Columbians help them forget? - BC Mary.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Nearly 4 months before police searched the Legislature, RCMP met to discuss Finance Minister Collins' phone taps


Basi-Virk defence disclosure application alleges massive failure of Crown to disclose RCMP, other evidence in BC Legislature Raid case

The January 4, 2008 application by lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi was made public through the court registry today, thanks to the persistence of Robin Mathews in demanding that transcripts be provided to the public ... and to Bill Tieleman who gave time and effort to putting the 15 eye-popping pages online for anyone to see.

The document - shown in full on Bill Tieleman's site in JPEG form - cites a litany of missing RCMP officers' notes, wiretap transcripts, computer emails, questions about a deal with key Crown witness Erik Bornmann, a former provincial lobbyist and much more.

Read all about it at:


by Bill Tieleman
24 HOURS - 19 Feb 2008



BC Rail Scandal in Court. Look again.

By Robin Mathews

Yesterday's events in Courtroom 65 appear to have caused confusion among observers. With good reason, as we will see. Events were, apparently, so confusing to the CanWest Private Corporate Monopoly Chain, it published nothing I could find in Vancouver, site of the Supreme Court hearings.

The Globe and Mail's accounting is bland ("Province waives privilege, defence to see files", Mark Hume, S1).

That's a toss-up: bland, or no account at all - which is best?

What went on in Courtroom 65 was of crucial importance, for several reasons. First, the trial date of mid-March earlier announced by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett with a remark by her that she was willing to sit long to assure its realization was blown to smithereens.

She witnessed the passing of that date with sweet imperturbability. Not a word. Not a frown.

Secondly, she didn't (as some have suggested) set up a series of dates for hearings. She listened, as we all did, to William Berardino, Special Crown Prosecutor, list off what he termed a "reasonable" set of dates for disclosure of materials - from several sources - to the Defence. Those dates reached into June. But they were contested by Defence counsel Kevin McCullough, speaking from Victoria on phone connection. He claimed that the Crown has been so imperfect in its completion of disclosure promises that he does not believe the dates given will hold. And he further opined that hearings would have to be called to address the failures.

He cited a few failures of disclosure, as examples, one being reference to evidence by Crown that has not even - over months - been described, let alone released, to Defence.

Thirdly, something was made in court of an apparent move by the cabinet of Gordon Campbell to waive 'privilege' over documents, especially e-mails over which it claimed to have power. That was a grand gesture of smoke and mirrors, I believe - a gesture to take British Columbians' attention away from what may be cabinet efforts to scuttle the proceedings.

George Copley, acting for the Gordon Campbell cabinet, still is toying with solicitor/client privilege to prevent Defence from having open access to critically important material. Mr. McCullough insisted that the restrictions the Gordon Campbell cabinet members (called solicitor/client privilege, I believe) are requesting on some disclosed documents are intolerable. And all documents are still not available. A cabinet that should be opening all relevant documents to assure a timely and fair trial is acting as if it will do anything in its power to prevent and/or to limit open and unimpeded scrutiny of its actions in the sale of BC Rail.

Any report in any publication or news medium, by now, to be fair, has to record that disclosure of evidence necessary to the Defence for the conduct of a fair trial has been a catastrophe, a dog's breakfast, a humiliating game of hide-and-seek, probably a devastation of fair legal practice, and - in the minds of many observers - a process that calls seriously into question the ability to achieve justice in the Canadian legal system.

The BC Rail Scandal court proceedings are a test of the Canadian legal system, and it is failing monstrously. Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, presiding judge, should take twenty minutes of the next hearing to explain carefully and in the simplest layman's terms to British Columbians why she is content with matters as they are. That is an especially necessary exercise in which she should engage since an increasing number of British Columbians are asking if the process is a many-layered fraud.



Province waives privilege, defence to see files

The Globe and Mail - February 19, 2008

VANCOUVER -- The provincial government has waived cabinet privilege over documents being sought by the defence in an oft-delayed political corruption trial that now seems on track for a summer start.

Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the Supreme Court of British Columbia clarified yesterday the issue of access to confidential government documents and set several hearing dates to keep the case against Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi moving ahead.

The case, which stems from a December, 2003, police raid on the provincial legislature, appeared to have run into a major disclosure problem recently, when the defence demanded access to documents that the Crown said were covered by cabinet privilege and solicitor-client privilege.

But Judge Bennett said that, through discussion, legal teams on both sides have been able to reach agreement on at least some of the restricted documents.

"As I understand it, any claim of cabinet privilege is not being asserted," she said, addressing her remark to George Copley, a lawyer for the executive council of the B.C. government.

"That's correct," Mr. Copley said.

He added that "hopefully" the issue of defence access to documents covered by solicitor-client privilege can also be settled by a proposal that lawyers get the material by signing an undertaking not to disclose the contents.

Judge Bennett confirmed eight different hearing dates between Feb. 29 and May 5 in which a long list of motions and applications are to be dealt with.

She set aside three weeks in May to deal with issues concerning "the BC Rail vets" - vetted or edited documents that are related to the sale of BC Rail. {Snip} ....

Although the dispute over defence access to documents covered by cabinet and solicitor-client privilege appears to be resolved, defence lawyers still have some objections.

Kevin McCullough, the lawyer for Mr. Virk, told the court over speaker phone from Victoria that he has lingering concerns about the disclosure process.

"I don't want you to think that everything's fine there," he said.

"No, I didn't think that," Judge Bennett replied.

Mr. McCullough said he is concerned because the Crown initially gave the defence two lists: one of documents that were available for disclosure and one of documents that would not be disclosed.

Only later did the defence learn there were relevant documents that didn't appear on either list and it's not yet clear exactly how many documents might have fallen between the cracks.

"We don't have the [missing] stuff. I'm concerned," Mr. McCullough said.

But the Crown prosecutor, William Berardino, told court every effort is being made to address the issues being raised by the defence and he thinks all the concerns can be resolved. "That seems to be moving in the right direction," he said.

But the Crown will still face some challenges before the trial begins. Outside court, Michael Bolton, a lawyer for Dave Basi, said that after disclosure issues are dealt with, the defence will be bringing forward three Charter of Rights motions.

He said the defence will seek to set aside wire-tap material, attempt to quash the search warrants that allowed police to enter the legislature, and argue that the RCMP engaged in an abuse of process during the criminal investigation.

All the issues about disclosure and process will be dealt with in pretrial motions - and only after that will the trial begin.

No date was set for the start of the trial, but Judge Bennett has said in the past that the case is of significant public interest and she wants it to proceed as soon as possible. If no new issues arise, the earliest the trial could begin would now be some time in June.


Monday, February 18, 2008


Basi-Virk Hearings delayed until May 5

... BC government waives cabinet privilege, defence concerned with undisclosed documents

By Bill Tieleman

Another lengthy delay was confirmed today in the case of three former BC government aides facing corruption charges.

BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett was told that pre-trial disclosure hearings scheduled for March will now begin May 5 instead with the agreement of the Crown and defence counsel for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi. A short update hearing will be held March 11 however.

And George Copley, a lawyer for the provincial government, told the court ... {Snip} ...

Watch [Bill's] blog for more details as they become available and more on this morning's hearing


At 3:45 PM, Bill added: Hi Mary,

I've posted a longer piece now on my blog - unbelievably yet more delays in this interminable case!

Best regards - Bill Tieleman
West Star Communications Tel 604-844-7827

Bill Tieleman has left a new comment on your post "Basi-Virk Hearings delayed until May 5":

To clarify between Robin's report and my own - there will be a short update hearing on March 11 but the major pre-trial hearings on the BC Rail document "vets" will not take place now until May 5.
Thanks, Bill. I'll add this note to Robin's post as well.




In Courtroom 65, B.C. Supreme Court,
Feb. 18, 08.
The BC Rail Scandal.

By Robin Mathews

Three pieces of arresting news came out of the short (45 minute) hearing this morning in Courtroom 65.

8 counsel in attendance. About 8 in the gallery.

A schedule of meetings (hearings) taking the pre-trial activities into June was laid out by Special Crown Prosecutor, William Berardino. (I refer readers back to my very recent piece: "Canada. Justice in Decay?" It is relevant to today's hearing.) Berardino's schedule involves, mostly, the attempt to get materials form cabinet, BC Rail, RCMP, etc. Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, we seem to remember, made a strong statement that the trial would begin on March 17. Disclosure and other disruptions and delays will continue, now, into June, at least. Ummmm. Ummmm.

Outside the courtroom later, I asked Michael Bolton, Defence counsel, if trial could be considered without disclosure completed. He reaffirmed the fundamental principle that trial could not proceed until all matters of disclosure are attended to.

Inside the courtroom, on special phone connection, counsel for the Defence, Kevin McCullough interjected into William Berardino's schedule to insist the Crown is delaying disclosure; for instance, that it has not completely disclosed what Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett ordered disclosed on January 29. And that some of the disclosures engaged in by George Copley have too strict conditions imposed upon them. In addition, George Copley, counsel-with-standing for the Gordon Campbell cabinet is still balancing his highly questionable 'points of privilege' on the head of a pin.

(British Columbia's coast was so wrapped in cloud this morning that Kevin McCullough was, apparently, up in the air before his flight turned back to Victoria and gave up. If he had been present, he might still have believed he was still up in the air - in relation to progress on the BC Rail Scandal matters.)

We are to believe now that the progress made on the Government of British Columbia revealing the way it has conducted business for the People of British Columbia is being blocked on a basis of solicitor/client privilege, not cabinet privilege. Perhaps that basis makes it look a little less as if Gordon Campbell himself is giving directions on the matter....

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Bolton discussed the applications that are to come up, maybe in March, from Defence - a Charter application, and an application on the improper use of wiretaps, on the legitimacy of Search Warrants, and on abuse of process. I commented directly that they could, couldn't they? mean the end of the whole matter. Mr. Bolton remarked that they were very serious applications. (One must never forget - in the fencing between Special Crown Prosecutor and Defence to reveal the extent (if any) of cabinet member [and other uncharged persons] implication in what may be proved to be criminal acts, Defence is seeking first (and must do so) to defend its clients. That is to say that if Defence could bring the processes to an end because of improper legal actions by the Crown, Defence would have a responsibility to do so.

As I have commented in the past, everyone is represented in the hearings but the People of British Columbia whose Railway was stolen from them, sold secretly, against their wishes, and perhaps involving criminal actions.

Madam Justice Bennett informed counsel that an application has been made to release to the public the application for disclosure of a wide-ranging set of documents of January 4, 08, by the Defence. She canvassed counsel - all of whom agreed to release the January 4, Defence Application for Disclosure. As I write, the Application is being readied for release to the public, it not being completed for issuance at Eleven this morning.

Following the hearing, Mr. Bolton made himself available to questioners. If I do not describe the situation imperfectly, I would say the Special Crown Prosecution team and Mr. Copley made their way out as if to keep urgent appointments elsewhere.

Next hearing date - if I got it right amidst the tumble of dates discussed - is March 11 at nine a.m.

Your eye-witness report is greatly appreciated, Robin. - BC Mary.


Bill Tieleman has left a new comment:

To clarify between Robin's report and my own - there will be a short update hearing on March 11 but the major pre-trial hearings on the BC Rail document "vets" will not take place now until May 5.


Sunday, February 17, 2008


Monday, February 18, 2008 in BC Supreme Court

Confirmed. Note start-time: 9:00 AM.

Click on Van - Court Direct in the left margin for the list of charges (7+ pages) in the next pre-trial hearing for Basi Virk Basi / BC Rail Case #23299 which is expected to last 1 hour.

Meantime, there is the B.C. Appeal Court date - June 9 - 11, 2008.

Another long wait. But time enough to request that TV cameras may be activated in the courtroom so that all British Columbians, no matter where they live, can follow these historic proceedings. That could be a benefit to all concerned.

- BC Mary.


Friday, February 15, 2008


Canada: Justice in Decay?

by Robin Mathews

A burning question is before British Columbians and all Canadians as yet another (hour long?) hearing (Feb. 18) approaches in the BC Rail Scandal hearings at the Supreme Court in Vancouver.

Racing (?) to trial in March, "the corruption trial has hit another potential big snag". The Crown's appeal in favour of holding an in camera (secret - even from Defence) session to hear an informer's testimony will be "heard June 9 to 11". (Keith Baldry, Feb 13 08)

That news just may not really be a surprise to those who believe in the possibility that delay is planned. George Copley, counsel for the Gordon Campbell cabinet, is attempting to keep important e-mail evidence from Defence on solicitor/client and cabinet privilege grounds. If the privilege he is seeking is upheld, Defence may have to appeal in order to attempt to see the evidence.

Both the secret witness and the privilege claim seem to be, to some, faultless traps. If Crown (and/or cabinet) is not granted what it wants, it appeals. If it is granted what it wants, Defence has to appeal. Delay. Delay. Delay.

Is it planned delay? Is something seriously amiss with the BC Rail Scandal court hearings? Is the pursuit of justice in Canada being turned into a sick joke before our eyes?

On the surface, three B.C. Order-in-Council appointed cabinet aides are accused of (all added up) various acts of fraud and breach of trust as well as money laundering. Working, normally, in a dense political and administrative network, they are alleged to have acted without significant recourse to senior officers and independently of cabinet or ministerial or other political direction.

That is what British Columbians and other Canadians are led to believe. On the surface. The accused men have been placed in that isolated position by the people who undertook investigation and framed the charges against them, of course. Normally, they would be the RCMP investigators in consultation with the Special Crown Prosecutor. They would have sought out all alleged wrong-doers and would have charged them.

Except the surface may not reflect the reality of things. I am not the first or the only one to suggest that. On May 4, 2007 (Tyee), Bill Tieleman reported Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough "made sustained arguments that the RCMP 'tailored' its investigation in order to steer it away from elected politicians and towards Basi and Virk".

That is a profoundly serious allegation.

On April 24, 2007, CanWest News Service (Susan Lazaruk) reported McCullough asking (a) "why Premier Gordon Campbell wasn't interviewed as part of the RCMP investigation into the B.C. Rail sale of 2003 that led to the [search warrant] raid on the B.C. legislature." Lazaruk went on: (b) "McCullough suggested that calls intercepted by the RCMP showed the RCMP was tailoring the case against the accused and taking it away from elected officials."

We know that as early as December 2003, RCMP - very, very strangely - reported that no elected people were being investigated. It appears, however, that Gary Collins - then minister of finance - was, near that time, under investigation on matters closely related to the scandalous BC Rail selloff. But maybe that investigation ended just before the announcement by RCMP.

The allegation by Defence, as I say, is profoundly serious. For if cabinet and other highly placed B .C. government officers (not to mention, perhaps, even others) are being shielded in acts of Breach of Trust, then the present Gordon Campbell government, acting daily in matters of huge importance to British Columbians, is an illegitimate government.

On more than one occasion Gordon Campbell has signified that he wishes his government to cooperate in every way with the court in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case. Is it true, however, at the same time, that every person possibly connected to Gordon Campbell in the case is working to frustrate the course of justice?

On the surface, the BC Rail Scandal "trials" concern B.C. only. On the surface.

Looking deeper, problems of national significance emerge. They involve the legitimacy and the credibility of the higher courts in Canada. They involve the legitimacy and credibility of the Special Crown Prosecutor status (created in only some provinces). They involve the legitimacy and the credibility of the RCMP - repeatedly called into question in the BC Rail Scandal, throughout B.C. in other matters (the Ian Bush and Dziekanski deaths, etc.), across other provinces, and even in a matter of alleged interference with the last federal election.

Not without foundation, the recent federal Task Force on Governance and Culture Change in the RCMP (Dec. 2007) described the Force (despite many fine and upstanding members) as needing dramatic reconstruction, and it listed a series of ills within the RCMP of crippling seriousness.

That is a key organization in the BC Rail scandal.

In Ontario, "the largest police corruption case in Canadian history" - dragging its way through nearly eleven years of investigations and court actions - was recently stopped dead with a stay of proceedings entered to end the whole matter. The presiding judge strongly criticized the Special Crown Prosecutor for complacency, delay with disclosure, and with the handling of the huge number of pages of disclosure material.

Precisely that criticism has been levelled against the Special Crown Prosecutor in the BC Rail Scandal case, focusing attention on what may be a mistaken development in law and court operation in Canada - the creation of the Special Crown Prosecutorial systems. Created to distance Crown Prosecutors from police, judges, influential lawyers, and governments, the system may, in fact, place them all in a happy, polygamous marriage.

But the judge, himself, in the Ontario case is not above criticism in the "stay" of proceedings. Did he sit passively while delay, useless argument, complacency, and inefficiency prevailed? It seems so. In the BC Rail Scandal hearings, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett has been equally inactive. How much of the delay in the case is directly attributable to her refusal to discipline actors in the court? Is something distinctly wrong with the role of Supreme Court judges, with the powers they have, with the powers they choose to exercise? Do they display conscious or unconscious bias, acting against the demands of justice?

In Alberta, Court of Queen's Bench judges, I allege, have provided such questionable management that they may be responsible for grievous harm to innocent people. I have asked the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada - in her role as head of the Canadian Judicial Council - to investigate all the Alberta judges related to the Kelly Marie Richard case there. The Chief Justice and the Canadian Judicial Council, so far, (many weeks) will not even acknowledge my request. The Canadian Judicial Council - like the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP - is less than a paper tiger. It may be, I believe, a wolf in sheep-dog's clothing. Who oversees the oversight body?

An RCMP investigation of itself has just ended. Initiated at my request on allegations of serious wrong-doing by police officers in Calgary concerning the Kelly Marie Richard case there, the investigation proved to be a complete farce. Many officers named were, apparently, not even interviewed, let alone seriously examined. Documents, apparently, were not asked for or produced. The "Report" issuing from the investigation contains verifiable falsehood. The RCMP investigating the RCMP - one more time - makes a joke - a very dangerous joke - of the Force that is intimately related to many major criminal investigations leading to Supreme Court actions like the present one in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Throughout the Basi, Virk, and Basi hearings, the RCMP has been accused of delaying disclosure - so much so that Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett brought herself to order "forthwith" RCMP disclosure. Can British Columbians be satisfied with the result of her order?

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Basi, Virk, and Basi hearings thus far - to an ordinary Canadian - is the presence in the court of George Copley, lawyer for the Executive Council (the Gordon Campbell cabinet). What is he doing there? Can't the Special Crown Prosecutor ask cabinet for materials and have them delivered to the court?

On one occasion, as I remember it, Defence had Copley withdraw as being without standing in the court. Now, he has standing. What is his relation to the Special Crown Prosecutor?" I asked that question of a member of the Crown's team. Is he acting under the Special Crown Prosecutor? Not exactly. Is he independent? Not exactly. It's a complicated arrangement, I was told.

Perhaps it isn't.

George Copley is representing the interests of the cabinet. That should be simple. The only interest of cabinet in any democratic country in the world should be to see justice done and to assist the pursuit of justice in every way.

Is it possible that George Copley is representing the Gordon Campbell cabinet as a special interest group which has personal and private interests in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter which the Gordon Campbell group wants kept from the court - and, therefore, from the people of B.C. and Canada?

Is the presence of George Copley in the court a tacit admission of guilt by the Gordon Campbell cabinet?

George Copley - in my observation - delays. He messes up. He fumbles with solicitor/client privilege and with cabinet privilege.

Is the presence of George Copley in Courtroom 54 a tacit statement that this "trial" is really, basically, a "trial" of elected parliamentarians, of a cabinet up to its armpits in questionable actions in the corrupt sale of BC Rail? Is it a statement that the court is conducting a sham process, the real issues never being allowed to take their place in the trial? And if that is the case, who in the courtroom knows it? Does the presiding judge?

Is the impatience and frustration felt in courtroom 54 a simple manifestation of the fact that people who should be accused are not anywhere named in the charges? Questions. Questions.

The single, always-present, ineradicable ghost haunting the Basi, Virk, and Basi hearings is the ghost of the Gordon Campbell cabinet. In no way (on the surface) involved as a principal in the proceedings, nevertheless the ghost of the Gordon Campbell cabinet has a ghostly presence and even a ghostly lawyer to represent it. Strange.

Could a reasonable person say that the Basi, Virk, and Basi proceedings are a sign Canadian justice is in decay? That the proceedings are a sign of sickness in the whole legal system of the country? Could the Basi, Virk, and Basi proceedings be a sign that the RCMP has failed, the judges have failed, the court processes have failed, the Special Crown Prosecutor system has failed - and most dangerous of all - the parliament of the people of British Columbia and every member in that legislature - even today - have shamelessly failed the people of British Columbia and Canada?


Many thanks to Anonymous for this Footnote:

I've heard that there are rumours in the halls and around the water coolers of government that George Copley has been nominated for the Premier's Award in the LEGACY category. Which is kind of strange in fact because George is now, and has been since April of 2007, officially retired.

One can only wonder ... if Mr. Copley's many years of public service didn't bring him this award ... is he being honoured for his post-retirement contribution as attorney for the Executive Branch in the Basi and Virk affair? Sometimes one gets the impression that Mr Copley is a little embarrassed by the role he plays in Studio 54.

I certainly won't be surprised to hear, before long, that he's been awarded the coveted prize, which you can read about here:

Special thanks to Robin and to Anonymous. - BC Mary.


Thursday, February 14, 2008


Client legal privilege in perspective **** and tomorrow: Robin Mathews!

Privilege in perspective:
Australian Law Reform Commission Report
13 February 2008

ALRC: overhaul client legal privilege in federal investigations

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has recommended 45 changes to the handling of claims of client legal privilege over material sought by federal investigatory bodies and royal commissions of inquiry. The ALRC report Privilege in Perspective: Client Legal Privilege in Federal Investigations , tabled in Parliament today, is the culmination of a year-long public inquiry into this controversial area highlighted in the report of the AWB Royal Commission.

‘Our inquiry found general support for maintaining privilege as a fundamental right of clients, which only should be abrogated or modified in exceptional circumstances,’ said ALRC President, Prof David Weisbrot.

‘When properly exercised, privilege encourages compliance with the law, by creating an environment in which clients can make full and frank disclosure and receive accurate legal advice.

‘However, privilege must be balanced with the other public interest in ensuring efficient, effective investigations. Unfortunately, there are cases in which it appears claims of privilege have been used primarily to delay or frustrate investigations—with some disputes taking years to resolve. Many of our recommendations focus on streamlining the process for handling claims of privilege, and deterring or punishing abuses.’

Professor Rosalind Croucher, Commissioner in charge of the Inquiry, said that the central idea behind the ALRC’s recommendations is the need for a single federal statute addressing the application of privilege in all federal investigations.

‘Our research identified over 40 federal investigatory bodies with coercive information-gathering powers, as well as Royal Commissions. These include: law enforcement agencies, such as the Australian Federal Police; bodies concerned with the collection or administration of public funds—such as the ATO, Medicare and Centrelink; the major corporate regulators, such as ASIC and the ACCC; and a number of smaller, specialised regulators focusing on specific industries, such as the Fisheries Management Authority.

‘There are many dozens of federal laws that address the powers of these bodies. However, most of this legislation is silent on the application of client legal privilege, and where it is addressed, there is no consistent approach—creating confusion and cost for clients, lawyers and investigators.

‘A single federal statute would make clear that privilege applies unless expressly modified or abrogated by another statute, as well as establishing a system in which regulators and clients would have to operate in a much more open and transparent manner, according to published policies.’

Other key proposals include:
extending privilege to advice on tax law provided by accountants, where that advice is sought by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)—in effect, formalising the ATO ‘accountants concession’.

introducing a model fast-track procedure for resolving disputes about privilege; improving lawyers’ understanding of their legal and ethical obligations in this complex area, through targeted legal education; and clarifying and strengthening the professional disciplinary procedures to apply in cases where the assertion or maintenance of privilege claims may amount to unethical conduct.

The report Privilege in Perspective: Client Legal Privilege in Federal Investigations is available electronically from the ALRC website, .