Saturday, June 28, 2008


Pilothouse got $300,000., pays one bribe of $30,000., so were there other bribes?

Look what I found, with a little help from my friends. We were wondering what the rest of the $300,000.00 was used for. What do you think? - BC Mary.


By Greg Griffin
Staff Writer
Denver Post (USA) - 06/09/2007

Denver real estate and railroad investor Pat Broe and a colleague dined at a pricey Italian restaurant in Vancouver, British Columbia, in December 2003 with the province's minister of finance.
Apparently unknown to them, the downtown restaurant was staked out by undercover federal agents of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who videotaped the meeting, according to Canadian court records.

Police were interested in whether Broe's Denver-based company, OmniTrax Inc., would receive a gift from the finance minister's office for acting as a straw bidder in an auction for British Columbia's provincial railroad, court records reveal.
But if investigators were focused on Broe and former minister Gary Collins, they later lost interest. Neither was ever named a target of the government's investigation, and the details of their conversation at Villa del Lupo restaurant on Dec. 12, 2003, were never released.

OmniTrax officials said in a 2004 statement the company acted properly during the bidding.
Broe and his company, however, remain deeply entangled in the mess.

According to documents filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver, two lobbyists hired by OmniTrax allegedly paid bribes to ministerial aides for information about the bidding. The bribes were worth nearly $30,000, according to published reports based on additional court filings.

{Snip} ...

The case has drawn intense coverage from Canada's newspapers and on the Internet. In addition to a secret videotaping of a high-ranking public official, it features wiretapped phone conversations revealing unguarded political discussions.

OmniTrax is a political player in Canada, where it operates railroads in three provinces and owns the grain-distributing Port of Churchill on Hudson Bay.

{Snip} ...
[Erik] Bornmann and [Brian] Kieran, a former newspaper columnist, were political operatives in Vancouver working for Pilothouse Public Affairs Group. The firm had a contract with OmniTrax, reportedly worth $300,000 Canadian, to help it win the rail bidding. The firm later changed its name to K&E Public Affairs, with Kieran as a partner.

OmniTrax was one of three finalists bidding in 2003 for the government-owned British Columbia Rail, Canada's third- largest railway. The auction was being handled by Collins' office, and Dave Basi was involved.

Late in 2003, one of the bidders, Canadian Pacific Railway, dropped out. CP Rail officials believed the government had already chosen another bidder, Canadian National Railway, as the successful bidder, according to a February court filing by the defense.
Listening in on Basi's phone, investigators learned in November 2003 that OmniTrax was considering dropping out for the same reason, the defense said in its filing. Basi tried to dissuade them.

"It was clearly in the Provincial government's political interest to have an auction with more than one bidder," defense attorneys said. Canadian National won the bidding, paying $1 billion for BC Rail in late November 2003.

Investigators learned that OmniTrax might be given a "consolation prize" for having stayed in the bidding, according to the defense filing. The company was interested in a smaller spur line that also was being privatized, according to the filing, and had requested a meeting between OmniTrax officials and Collins. The Vancouver restaurant meeting followed.

The sale of the spur line was later canceled. Bornmann, 31, is considered the key witness, having made most of the payments, prosecutors have said in documents. Defense attorneys stated in their February court document that "the special prosecutor has advised defense counsel that Mr. Bornmann continues to this day to have the threat of criminal charges brought against him until after he testifies."

Staff writer Greg Griffin can be reached at 303-954-1241 or

It bears repeating (and thanks for the reminder from Anonymous today) ...

Friday, September 28, 2007

More LPCBC connections

Anonymous has left a new comment on "Jamie Elmhirst re-visited":


You might want to start a separate entry for this as it concerns mainly George MacIntosh and his law firm Farris, Vaughn, Wills and Murphy.

First let me begin by correcting two statements anonymous 10:55 made. Firstly the name of the law partner of George MacIntosh at Farris, Vaughn, Wills and Murphy is James Hatton, not Hattan.

Hatton is listed on the firm's website as a specialist in technological law. He served as secretary on the Liberal Party of Canada in BC executive along with Erik Bornmann and Bruce Clark from 2002 to 2004 and then with Jamie Elmhirst and Bruce Clark from 2004 to 2007. On April 1 2005 he was appointed to a governance position with the National Research Council by the Paul Martin government.

Second, Hatton was not the only person associated with Farris, Vaughn, Wills and Murphy who served with Jamie Elmhirst on the lpcbc executive. Shannon Salter succeeded Erik Bornmann as communications director, serving in that position from 2004 to 2007. When she started in this position she was a UBC law student. Then in 2005 she articled with Farris, Vaughn, Wills and Murphy. Then in March 2007 she joined Farris, Vaughn, Wills and Murphy as an associate, working in their commercial litigation group headed up by George MacIntosh.

MacIntosh who is regarded as one of the leading experts in commercial litigation law, has been with Farris Vaughn, Wills and Murphy since 1974. There is no mention of either MacIntosh or his firm ever having any involvement with criminal law.

This raises the question, why did George MacIntosh agree to represent Erik Bornmann as a client when:(a)MacIntosh's expertise lay in litigation law NOT criminal law and this was a criminal case.(b)there was a potential case of conflict of interest with MacIntosh's partner James Hatton serving on the same lpcbc executive as Eric Bornmann and Bruce Clark, a man Bornmann accused in his statements to police of being involved in the Basi affair.

As it turned out, Erik Bornmann did not get very good representation from George MacIntosh. What kind of a lawyer negotiates an immunity deal for his client without putting it in writing? Perhaps a lawyer who specializes in commercial litigation but is lacking in experience when it comes to criminal law!

For the record, Hatton and Salter both supported Gerard Kennedy in the Liberal leadership race whilst Elmhirst and Clark supported Stephane Dion.

For the record, Anonymice, your information is very much appreciated. - BC Mary.



Hansard March 3, 2004, final excerpt

J. MacPhail: What lessons were learned from the B.C. Rail privatization that are being applied by Partnerships B.C.?

Hon. G. Collins: I just spent a bit of time this afternoon explaining to the member why the B.C. Rail transaction was outside of Partnerships B.C. Partnerships B.C. was not involved in the transaction because it was not the type of transaction that would be good for Partnerships B.C. to be involved in.

J. MacPhail: I'm not sure what that had to do with my question.

Partnerships B.C., according to their own annual report, are about partnerships between the private and public sector. Let me just see some of the big files they've got right now. They've got the Abbotsford regional hospital. That's a $300 million project.

Let me ask this: are there any lessons to be learned from the B.C. Rail sell-off and the Abbotsford hospital?

Hon. G. Collins: The final conclusion of the B.C. Rail transaction has not occurred yet. When it does, it may well be that Mr. Trumpy and his team want to advise other people in government what they've learned. They're certainly free to do that. And if they have any valuable advice, I hope they give it.

J. MacPhail: But the minister doesn't know when the deal's going to be completed. He can't answer that for me. He has no idea what the competition bureau is doing here. He's just such a hands-off guy. I think it'll come as a real shock to British Columbians that this minister lacks such influence across government. Of course, he wouldn't be claiming that if he weren't in this hot water around the raid on his office at the Legislature. I'm sure he'd be claiming success at every turn.

Well then, I'll ask very specific questions about the various deals that are underway by Partnerships B.C. How many proponents are left in the bidding for the Abbotsford hospital?

Hon. G. Collins: I think it's been publicly stated that it's one.

J. MacPhail: What happened to the other bidders?

Hon. G. Collins: They dropped out over time.

J. MacPhail: Why?

Hon. G. Collins: Because it wasn't a transaction that they felt they could complete.

J. MacPhail: Did they file any formal withdrawal letters about why they couldn't complete the project?

Hon. G. Collins: I'm told yes.

J. MacPhail: What did those letters say? How many bids were there initially? Maybe the minister could read the letters into the record, please.

Hon. G. Collins: I don't have them with me, but under the normal procedures, I'll try and get them to the member if she's requesting them.

J. MacPhail: I'm sorry. Why are they not here? I assume this would be part of the debate around Partnerships B.C. How long will it take? I would like the letters. It's always awkward not to have this information available in estimates. How long will it take?

Hon. G. Collins: I'm certainly prepared to talk about the general content of the letters and the reasons behind it if I can. Correspondence like that is subject to freedom of information and protection of privacy. The individuals who wrote those letters have business issues they may want to deal with, and they'd need to be consulted. That's the act she put into place and voted in favour of.

J. MacPhail: Oh, balderdash. Why is it that this government, this minister in particular, always says: "Use FOI." What happened to the promise of openness and accountability? What happened to the Premier's statement that openness beats hiddenness any day? What happened to that?

I would like the letters. There is no provision under the act that allows the minister to prevent releasing those letters to me. In the meantime, I will take him up on his offer right now to give me a summary — per bid, please.


Hon. G. Collins: There actually is something in the act. It's third-party confidence, and it needs to be respected. We just don't release that kind of stuff without the advice….

J. MacPhail: They've withdrawn.

The Chair: The minister has the floor.

J. MacPhail: There is no competition.

The Chair: The minister has the floor.

Hon. G. Collins: I have no knowledge whether there are items in those particular letters that may be prejudicial to future bids that those companies might make or be making presently in other parts of the world. I've no knowledge of that. The member might like to have everything at her fingertips, but unfortunately for her, the law she helped put in place and voted in favour of and continues to support, I think, requires that we respect the rights of those third parties. It's not just freedom of information; it's also protection of privacy. The member is aware of that.

J. MacPhail: Can I have a summary of the contents, please?

Final excerpt for March 3, 2004. Special thanks to "Lynx" for this research.

P.S. Anyone who knows Joy MacPhail, please tell her that she is needed again in the B.C. Legislature.

- BC Mary.


Friday, June 27, 2008


Psst! Buy waterfront land? Only $1.

These items appeared during the interlude after police raided the B.C. Legislature, when we faced the shock of realizing that the province was in mortal danger. Journalism took on a brilliance and honesty which is reflected in these articles below. Sadly, the corporate media soon regained the upper hand and BC news gave way to a relentless theme of "Move along folks, ain't nuthin' goin' on here." Two items from that time, which appeared in Columbia Journal (Vancouver),, are presented here "as is" and unverified, as there are things mentioned which we haven't seen before. It seems, too, that B.C. has many serious obligations to fulfill, under the terms of this 1,500-page still-secret (as far as I know) agreement. Special thanks to Gary E for discovering and sharing these items.

- BC Mary.


Columbia Journal - Volume 9, Number 3, May 2004
Bob Smith

1 BC Rail sold to C.N. Rail for $1Billion

2 $750 M of this is for the right to operate freight operations for 60 years and options for an additional 930 years on B.C. owned rails and rights of way and for ownership of the BC Rail company itself and its name and trademarks.

3 Of this total amount, $250 M will go to acquire for CN tax credits on the accumulated (for tax purposes, losses, capital expenditures, and deductible expenditures over 70 years) of BC Rail worth an estimated $2 Billion or more. The credit may be as much as $250 M. There is a qualifier: If the federal tax department agrees that BC Rail’s tax debt credit (useless for a crown corporation which pays no taxes) can be transferred to CN then BC gets the $ Billion from CN, if not BC gets $750 million plus what amount CN is able to get from the federal tax department. There is no certainty that Canada will agree to accept directly in lost future income tax, $250 Million of BC’s indirect debt, payable by a corporation which now does not pay income taxes at all as a transfer to one that does pay taxes.

4 BC to pay off all the current $500 M B.C. Rail debt from the money CN Pays BC.

5 BC will pay $17.2 million for part of the Prince Rupert terminal facility.

6 BC will pay $15 million into a First Nations Trust, not necessarily divided equitably between the 20 Bands through whose reserves BC Rail track runs. The trustees of this fund are to be mostly Native people appointed by the Liberals.

7 BC will pay $4 million for airport improvements in Prince George.

8 BC will pay $135 million into a Northern Developments Initiative.

9 BC will pay $1 million for terminal and runway improvements in Prince George.

10 BC will pay $50 million into a general trust to support economic development across Northern BC.

11 BC Rail rolling stock is estimated to be worth $600 million which CN gets as part of deal.

12 At the time of sale, BC Rail had about $1.2 BILLION worth of undepreciated capital assets, much of this in industrial land which does not depreciate, on its tax books.

13 BC Rail had operating losses over its approximately seventy years of existence that can be carried forward for tax deductions. This value was about $800 M. This may result in a tax credit against CN Rail’s present and future earnings of about $250 M. This is entirely contained in # 3 above.

14 The firm hired to access fairness was explicitly disallowed any capacity to assess the real value of tax shelters as part of sale. It was not allowed to determine if CN or BC got value for its contribution.

15 The firm hired to assess the “fairness” of the sale had to rely solely on what the government said about its own transactions and it was given a strictly limited framework in which to assess the “fairness” of the bidding process. Both other bidders for BC Rail have claimed publicly that the process was unfair.

16 CN is not required to give any accounting of the BC Rail line’s costs, profits or benefits to anyone, ever. It is a public company and must report general operating results to its shareholders. It does not have to report any specifics about parts of its operations.

17 BC Government to be partly responsible for the cost of a 7% rate reduction promised to major BC Rail customers. There is no promise to small customers.

18 Approximately half of BC Rail employees are to be laid off, including almost all maintenance workers in Squamish and Prince George. The work will be done at existing CN Rail shops in Winnipeg and elsewhere by existing CN staff. 60% of BC Rail’s head office staff are to go too. CN has made no promise to keep any of the BC Rail workers. CN will acquire and operate a wheel refurbishing shop in Prince George. Transfer of workers’ seniority, if any, seems unclear at best.

19 BC Rail has a debt now because it was required by the Bennett Governments to absorb the whole cost of the spur lines to the North-East coal mines, now abandoned. Previous construction on the BC Rail was charged to Provincial General Revenue in most cases like the Dease Lake Extension, now about half unfinished and/or abandoned. BC Rail has been paying these off ever since, in full, and on time, from BC Rail’s before-net earnings.

20 The projects in #5-10 will be paid for from the amount of money above that required to pay off the BC Rail debt and only after the debt has been paid. That could be years.

21 BC can sell any BC Rail land to CN at any time and CN must take it for $1.00. This is intended to force CN to accept responsibility for any environmental damage. BC can sell any BC Rail lands to CN, at any price CN agrees to pay, at any time. This includes specifically the tracks and the land under them.

22 CN may increase freight rates on the line as it sees fit but not until just after the 2009 election. There is no limit or formula to determine the amount of the rates after that, other than an appeal to the Federal Competition Review Board or Parliament. CN may abandon rail lines (stop using them) but again, not until just after the 2009 election.

23 CN and BC Rail’s current industrial shippers are currently in dispute about whether the base freight cost today should be stated in US dollars (CN is US owned and is primarily a US carrier) or Canadian. If US, the promised 7% reduction has already largely been achieved at little additional cost to CN or BC. The freight bill has usually been charged in Canadian dollars by BC Rail but not always.

24 CN has its own debt of several $ Billion from some operating losses and the acquisition of other railroads in the US. When Canada sold CN, Canada paid the banks which had held the CN debt all the accumulated debt of CN and its predecessor railroads since 1910, before CN was sold.

25 The sale contract runs to more than 1500 pages.

26 CN is to provide a number of new railcars to work on BC Rail tracks but gets to sell current BC Rail cars to partly offset the cost.

27 If BC wants to buy BC Rail back there is no provision in the agreement to set a price in advance. BC will have to pay what CN wants to get at that time. It is never required to sell at all. The price will be unlimited.

28 The Magna Carta (The English speaking world’s longest standing contract) has only been in effect for 789 years. Technically, a series of 60 year renewals is legal. A single 990 year lease would not be valid, even between corporations which, unlike the rest of us, never die. The CPR negotiated 999 year leases on rail track in the 1880s when such long terms were legal. CN and its predecessors may have done the same before WW 1. These extensions commit BC and CN Rail until June of the year 2994.

29 At current rates of interest and earnings at BC Rail and without allowance for major staff reductions and other economies of scale, CN should have recovered its purchase price in a decade. Making allowance for these lay-offs and savings, CN could be in the black on this in about seven years. ($250 Million from income tax, BC Rail currently makes about $100 Million a year, staff cost cut by at least a third, other less quantifiable savings from running single unified company under only federal railroad regulations.)

30 Passenger service is not included in the agreement but it would have to be organized to not disrupt CN Freight movements. CN will own the running rights on the BC Rail tracks and will not have to allow any passenger rail use.

The purpose of this agreement by the BC Government was to get BC out of the railway business. For CN it is a huge windfall and gives CN monopoly control of all the railways in BC except for a very limited amount along the right of way of the CPR from Banff to Kamloops to Vancouver.

The value of having control of a railway to the resources of the Interior of BC, the skilled jobs involved, railway competition, value for the taxpayers as well as for the citizens, and any future passenger, tourism or other options was deliberately set at zero by the Liberal Cabinet. The net benefit to BC and its people is neutral at best, horribly negative at worst. The facts that CN was such a huge contributor to the federal and provincial Liberal Parties, that CN Rail is mostly American and does not use the term “Canadian” in describing itself, and that the RCMP are still investigating whether vital information was leaked to CN Rail but not to the competing bidders will be footnotes that increase public resentment.

Once done, this deal can never be undone. Ideology, in the guise of reducing Government operations to the bare essentials, will have triumphed over the BC dream of controlling our own future economic development.



Jim Lipkovits and Marco Procaccini
Columbia Journal - April 2004

The BC Liberal government’s move to sell BC Rail, already marred in scandal, has taken another hit as newly leaked documents showing a secret deal to sell railroad lands to the Canadian National Railway for just one dollar have come to light.

... the leaked sections of the agreement allow -- after just five years -- for the sale of public land under rail lines to CN for one dollar. These lands include very valuable waterfront properties between North Vancouver and Squamish ...


Thursday, June 26, 2008


BC Rail clientele ready and willing to pay $1,375 each to ride from Vancouver to Prince George in 2001

Did you know this?

BC Rail finds younger train market

Article Abstract:

BC Rail was pleasantly surprised to discover that people as young as 35 years old would pay $1,375 for a trip from Vancouver to Prince George aboard its latest train, the Whistler Northwind. The company estimates as many as 6,000 passengers will ride the train from May to September, with weekly departures from Vancouver and Prince George.

BC Rail spent as much as $12 million in promoting the new luxury train service, which it expects to recover within three years.


Lazarus, Eve
Publisher: Rogers Publishing Ltd.
Publication Name: Marketing Magazine
Subject: Business, international
ISSN: 1196-4650
Year: 2001
Railroads, Rail Transportation, BC Rail Ltd.

BC Mary should be on holiday. I'm weary and need a change of scene. That will happen soon. Meantime, I've been searching for specific information online and finding some very odd items as I go -- such as this one (above). If anyone can take time to verify or refute this, I'd certainly welcome the assistance. The URL as shown doesn't work for me, but ... maybe it will work for a clever Anon-O-mouse.

The specific information I'm actually looking for? The "5-year" clauses -- the CN promises which drop off the "agreement" at the 5-year anniversary -- what are they? In my view, this is extremely important to know, as July 14, 2008 marks anniversary No. 4. - BC Mary.


Hats off to our wonderful commentors ... like Lynx, who finds the Hansard items ... and Grumpy for the original statement:

Mary, you make a very good point about the significance of those "five-year clauses".

Last Fall, November 2007 on The Tyee the commentor, Grumpy, made this very interesting comment:

"I have heard an interesting rumour that CN wants to wash their hands of the BCR and sell it, at any price. The forest industry has dried up and the grades on the BCR are just too much for CNR managers.The rumour I hear is that the line from North Vancouver to Whistler may be abandoned; and the rest mothballed.

Now, if this were to happen, what would Campbell's reelection chances be? and waiting in the wings another bird of prey "Falcon" may get his wings clipped by the CNR/BCR fiasco.

The real problem facing the CNR is the BN/Santa Fe would like to have a line through Canada to connect to Alaska, so abandonment and/or moth balling is out of the question. You see if the CNR sell off rights-of-way along portions of the line it will be near impossible for a competing railway to operate.

Evidently 2009 may be the date when the CN/BCR deal really shows what was intended all along. Maybe this is why 'BC Railgate' is so important to delay, delay, delay!"

Hey, now there's an idea for those $100. green cheques, eh? Only halfway kidding ... what do you think of all this? - BC Mary.



What? I always thought they were created on another planet


Allison Cross
Vancouver Sun - Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mary Lynn Young has been appointed director of the School of Journalism at UBC.

Young, who was an associate professor at the school, will serve as director from July 1 to June 30, 2011. She served as acting director of the school in the second half of 2007.

Her experience includes working as a reporter and editor for the Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, Hamilton Spectator and the Houston Post.

She replaces Stephen Ward, who has accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Fail-grade to whoever wrote this press release; unless, of course, Ms Young is actually going to be working only from July 1 to
June 30, 2011. What's she going to be doing until then?
- The Grammar Police.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Basi and Virk and Basi

We know so little about them. And yet, Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, and Aneal Basi will go down in history for the profound impact they have had upon political life in British Columbia. Some background:


Kim Bolan
Vancouver Sun - 2004 (exact date to be verified)

Their names have been associated with some of the most successful and controversial campaigns in Liberal party circles at both the federal and provincial level.

Now their names are also linked to a criminal probe reaching into the highest political offices in B.C.

They are a close-knit group of Indo-Canadian Liberal activists known to have delivered substantial Sikh support to Prime Minister Paul Martin's leadership campaign.

Since the police raids on the offices of ministerial assistants Dave Basi and Bob Virk Sunday [Dec. 28, 2003], many party activists are questioning their long-time association with a series of provincial and federal campaigns, including that of the new prime minister.

Basi, who was fired Monday from his job in the office of B.C. Finance Minister Gary Collins, is a back-room organizer responsible for signing up thousands of new party members, along with his long-time associates, including Virk, a relative of Basi's through marriage.

Both men under investigation are linked to a slew of high-profile Indo-Canadian organizers, including Amar Bajwa, who was regional director of Martin's B.C. campaign, as well as Savik Sidhu, who works in the premier's office.

Greg Wilson, a former member of the B.C. Liberal executive who was part of Sheila Copps' federal campaign, said the young Martin organizers -- referred to by insiders as "Basi's boys" -- are hugely influential.

"They have been paid organizers for the federal Liberal party. One of them, I know, was a paid organizer for the provincial Liberal party. They've been paid organizers for the Paul Martin campaign. Presumably that has given them some influence and some stature," Wilson said. "The people at the top of the pyramid are so seduced by the power that these individuals give them that they chose to reward these people and hire their acolytes to do the organizing."

Basi has been a major Liberal force on southern Vancouver Island for years. In his federal riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, he successfully took over the executive beginning in 1996, a former riding president said Monday.

Kit Spence, who no longer holds an executive position, said Basi is a "back-room guy" who controls which candidates are nominated and who is elected to executive positions in the party, through the large number of members he's signed up.

"He is able to bring out members of the Sikh community and sign them up as members and get them to vote in a particular way. So he is powerful and influential in that he can bring numbers to the table. That's his expertise," Spence said.

"He's able to go out and sell memberships to those people and bring them out when it counts.

Spence said there were complaints from some party members in 1996 about Basi's tactics, but "the results wouldn't have changed one way or another."

"Dave was instrumental in generating support for the winning candidate and getting his people out," he said.

That same expertise was used for Martin's campaign. Spence said the Saanich riding association has between 1,200 and 1,500 members, about half of whom are Indo-Canadian. Most of those were signed up by Basi and his people, he said.

"Some people complain about that, but it is a legitimate part of the political process. The guy who's got the most numbers wins and David was able to organize people, sell memberships and get them to come to vote."

Basi's boys were there at the Young Liberal convention at the University of Victoria in the spring of 2002. They brought in busloads of new youth to the party and beat out the rival candidates for executive positions. But it wasn't without controversy.

Complaints were made to the party that some of those brought to the meeting weren't legitimate members. Other rumours swirled that some had been lured by an under-age drinking party held afterwards. The allegations were dismissed by an internal party review.

Marco Dekovic, an active Young Liberal supporting Allan Rock at the time, said he found a lot of the tactics of the Basi boys and other Martin campaigners aggressive.

"There was a bit of a democratic deficit," he said Monday. "Within the Young Liberals they were pretty strong . . . I think they were more back-room kind of organizers."

The Basi boys, most of whom are in their 20s and attended UVic, were also very involved in the takeover of the Vancouver South riding of federal MP Herb Dhaliwal by Martin supporters.

The pro-Martin candidate now seeking the nomination in the riding is Shinder Purewal, who did not return repeated calls Monday.

Peter Dhillon, a friend of Dhaliwal's who is active in the riding, said Purewal should publicly explain his connection to those now under investigation.

Dhillon said he has been inundated with calls from many concerned Liberals who now want a review of what is going on.

"It's important for the party that his [Martin's] leadership handle this very quickly," Dhillon said.

He said a new membership sign-up process was put in place some time ago to protect against abuse.

"This could potentially be the worst abuse of all. I don't think our prime minister would support something like this and am sure he would want to get to the bottom of this."

Randeep Singh Sarai, the candidate running in Vancouver South against Purewal, said there were many irregularities in the take-over of the riding association, though the party dismissed complaints.

He called the developments Sunday "disturbing" and said they impact on the entire federal party.

"It is the whole Liberal family that is affected by it. There is no doubt it is going to hurt the Liberal party until there is some clarity on it -- on who is involved and exactly what happened," Sarai said.

The criminal probe makes him more concerned about some of the allegations that have surfaced in the riding.

"If people involved in criminal activity are involved in the Liberal party and in the ridings associations, it is definitely a concern for everyone," Sarai said. "It is a distortion of the democratic process."

Sarai said most of the information circulating consists of still unconfirmed rumours, albeit troubling ones about links to drug dealing and money laundering.

{Snip} ...

Wilson said the federal party has moved to an almost all-cash system for membership fees and delegate expenses, instead of the prior practice of cheques or credit payments.

Financial statements used to be presented to riding associations meetings regularly, he said.

"People associated with the Martin campaign have rolled back that accountability and the financial statements are no longer provided at conventions to party members," he said. "We've moved backwards and the effect is that disturbing links and allegations like these are given credibility that we are not more accountable and more transparent."

Wilson said the party must take immediate action to deal with the financial issues, as well as the powerful influence of the Basi boys.

"What you have here is a system where a group of people seem to have been rewarded with organizing jobs or what have you based on their faction's ability to sell memberships, and it doesn't appear to be in the interests of the Liberal Party. It is certainly not in the public's interest."



Lori Culbert and Jim Beatty
Vancouver Sun, Jan. 10, 2004

The families of Dave Basi and Bob Virk, the two ministerial assistants at the centre of the legislature raids, are long-time friends who own a business and two real estate properties together.

And the two men are now related after marrying two women who are either sisters, according to some sources, or close cousins, according to others who know them.

The lives of Basi and Virk were intertwined long before a drug and organized crime investigation resulted in the Dec. 28 legislature raids, which shoved both men on to the front pages of newspapers. The next day, Basi was fired from his post as ministerial assistant to Finance Minister Gary Collins, and Virk was suspended with pay from his job as ministerial assistant to Transportation Minister Judith Reid.

Real estate documents show Basi's paternal grandfather, Harjinder Basi, and his two paternal uncles opened a convenience store in Victoria called B&V Market with Virk's parents in January 1986.

The store, located in a red brick building on Quadra Street, is still operating.

Basi's two uncles, Amar and Bachittar, described in real estate documents as a postal worker and a businessman respectively, also own two condominiums in a high-rise apartment building on Hillside Avenue in Victoria with Virk's parents, listed as a businessman and a cook.

In 2003, one condo was valued at $133,700, and the other at $115,400.

Also part owners of the condos are family friends Jaswant and Gurpal Purewal, who are said to be a businessman and a government worker.

No one in the Basi, Virk or Purewal families, all of whom live in Victoria, would agree to be interviewed Friday.

The legislature raids followed a 20-month investigation by Victoria police (ref. Victoria Police Chief Paul Battershill) and the RCMP that involved drugs, organized crime, commercial crime and police corruption.

In all, nine search warrants were executed at seven premises Dec. 28, including the the legislature offices of Basi and Virk, as well as Basi's Victoria home.

No charges have been laid.

Police released few details of the probe, and the information in the search warrants has been sealed by the courts.

On Friday, The Sun, quoting sources, reported that the RCMP is investigating whether Basi was involved in a cross-border drug-trafficking scheme and/or breached the public trust in his handling of the province's privatization of BC Rail.

In response, Basi's lawyer, Chris Considine, issued a brief statement Friday refusing to comment on specifics of the police investigation.

Considine said "it would be inappropriate and unfair to speculate on what the police may or may not be investigating."

The statement reiterated that Basi said he has not done anything wrong and expects to be exonerated.

Basi's father, Gurnam, died in a 1976 car accident, when his son was only nine years old.

Gurnam Basi, a sawmill worker at Sooke Forest Products, was 38 when the car he was driving slid off a wet road and hit a power pole, according to newspaper stories at the time.

He left an estate worth $138,472 -- about half personal property, and the other half insurance policies -- for his widow and his two sons, nine-year-old Udhe (Dave) and four-year-old Bhinder (Ben), according to probate documents.

The documents indicate Gurnam and Sukhbir Basi were married for 16 years, but lived apart between 1962 and 1965, when the husband came to Canada and the wife stayed behind in India.

After Gurnam's death, Dave Basi, his wife Inderjit and his mother Sukhbir went on to amass their own real estate portfolio.

Between them, they own four houses in Victoria valued at more than $1.2 million in 2003. However, they are carrying a mortgage on each property.

Basi, who has a young son and daughter, earned about $66,000. His wife is a civil servant who works part-time as a customer service representative in the ministry of community, aboriginal and women's services. His mother is listed in real estate documents as a chambermaid.

When asked how Basi could afford his real estate purchases, Collins, the finance minister, told The Sun "my understanding is his grandfather had a sawmill in Victoria and the family has had resources over the years."

But when reached on the phone Friday, Harjinder Basi, Dave Basi's grandfather, confirmed he never owned a sawmill. He worked for more than two decades at a sawmill in Esquimalt, before retiring in the mid-1980s.

Collins' misinformation about Basi's past is surprising, considering the two have been friends since meeting in early 1993.

Basi, who graduated in 1992 with a political science degree from the University of Victoria, had been chosen as a legislative intern and was assigned to help the B.C. Liberal caucus with research, speech writing and preparing queries for MLAs to ask in Question Period.

Following the six-month internship, which ended in June 1993, Basi landed a job with the small business ministry.

Collins and Basi maintained their friendship and shared mutual interests in federal politics. Both are federal Liberals who were involved in the Young Liberal Association.

Basi worked as a civil servant in the bureaucracy until June 2001, when Collins encouraged him to take a political posting as his top aide, responsible for Collins' role as house leader.

Collins had met Basi's wife Inderjit on a couple of occasions, had received the odd ride in Basi's Jeep and had even attended the first birthday party of Basi's son.

Although they were friends, and Basi was always a staunch defender of Collins, they didn't socialize significantly.

In recent years, Collins was rarely seen in the legislature without Basi by his side. Although Basi didn't attend cabinet meetings or treasury board meetings, he ushered Collins to those meetings and sat in on a host of other ones.

Specifically, Basi was the person who scheduled when legislation would enter the house and when debates would be held, and was the main link between the government and the New Democratic Party opposition.

Because of his central role, Basi regularly dealt with all cabinet ministers, Liberal backbenchers and the NDP, and he regularly promoted the government's agenda in discussions with reporters.

Collins has said Basi would not have had access to any budget documents, attended no budget meetings and would not have had access to draft legislation.

Collins said the only document Basi might have had, which could be considered highly sensitive, was a list of new laws that are to be introduced in the coming legislature session, which is to start Feb. 10 [2004].

In the halls of the legislature, Basi was gregarious, known to all and highly regarded.

While Basi was the outgoing extrovert, Virk passed through the legislature halls barely noticed. Short, stocky and quiet, Virk regularly flanked his boss, Reid, but rarely stopped to chat.

Known to all as "Bobby," Virk is well regarded by those who work in the legislature who called him friendly, hard-working and likable.

Raised in Victoria, Virk was educated at the University of Victoria and is known as one of Basi's Boys, one of many young Indo-Canadian men who are active in Liberal politics, federally and provincially.

He began working for the Opposition Liberals as a low-ranking political aide in 1997. He later became a legislative assistant, providing support, research and advice to the politicians.

In the spring of 2000, Virk left the Liberal caucus in Victoria and joined the B.C. Liberal party itself, working as an election organizer.

Following the May 2001 election when the Liberals swept to power, Virk became the ministerial assistant to Reid.

Virk's parents, Sudershan and Surinder, own a $427,000 house in Victoria. No other records of real estate owned by the Virk family could be found.

After Gurnam's death, Dave Basi, his wife Inderjit and his mother Sukhbir went on to amass their own real estate portfolio.

Between them, they own four houses in Victoria valued at more than $1.2 million in 2003. However, they are carrying a mortgage on each property.

Basi, who has a young son and daughter, earned about $66,000. His wife is a civil servant who works part-time as a customer service representative in the ministry of community, aboriginal and women's services. His mother is listed in real estate documents as a chambermaid.

When asked how Basi could afford his real estate purchases, Collins, the finance minister, told The Sun "my understanding is his grandfather had a sawmill in Victoria and the family has had resources over the years."

But when reached on the phone Friday, Harjinder Basi, Dave Basi's grandfather, confirmed he never owned a sawmill. He worked for more than two decades at a sawmill in Esquimalt, before retiring in the mid-1980s.

The 6 ft. 1 in. soccer player -- cousin Aneal Basi -- isn't always mentioned. But he was the 3rd man arrested as a result of the police raids on the B.C. Legislature. At trial, the former Public Affairs Officer will be asked critical questions about the money trail:



Canadian Press - Updated Mon. Apr. 3 2006

VANCOUVER -- Two lobbyists paid almost $30,000 to three B.C. government officials in exchange for government information to help one of their clients, according to search warrant material released Monday.

In another dramatic twist, scant hours after the warrant information was released, one of the three government officials was hit with four new Criminal Code charges. The warrant material was granted by a court in 2004 and is part of an investigation that has resulted in charges against the three.

There were four separate applications by the RCMP in 2004 to obtain search warrants.

In one application, the Crown contends Dave Basi accepted a benefit from Erik Bornman and committed a breach of trust. That application alleges that Bornman "received information and documents from Dave Basi in exchange for payments which were made to Aneal Basi for forwarding to Dave Basi."

Another application alleges that Dave Basi received the money from Bornman in return for Basi's referring clients to him and assisting him with "matters of government."

Dave Basi was a ministerial assistant for former finance minister Gary Collins. Aneal Basi was a public affairs officer in the Transport Ministry.

The warrants allege that Aneal Basi passed funds from Bornman to Dave Basi.

"These funds were in the form of cheques written to Aneal Basi, deposited to the account of Aneal Basi, and it is believed, disbursed to David Basi as part of the arrangement with Erik Bornman," the court documents allege.

{Snip} ...

The investigation, according to the documents, uncovered several cancelled cheques through 2002 and 2003, most of them payable to Aneal Basi.

The court documents alleged the cheques payable to Aneal Basi "demonstrated a pattern of deposits into the accounts of David Basi immediately or shortly after a cheque to Aneal Basi was written and cashed."

Aneal Basi's lawyer, Joe Doyle, said he is confident his client will be acquitted of the two counts of money laundering he faces.

"He didn't launder any money. He denies those charges."

Last week, Justice Elizabeth Bennett ruled the media would be allowed to look through the search warrant information used in connection with a 2003 raid on the B.C. legislature.

The release was delayed because she said heavy editing was necessary to delete some information in the interests of a fair trial.

{Snip} ...


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hansard continued from March 3, 2004:

J. MacPhail: What action did the cabinet take on the CP Rail letter regarding the B.C. Rail sell-off?

Hon. G. Collins: The fairness commissioner has already taken all those issues into consideration and reported on them.

J. MacPhail: Oh, I can just see it, if he were in opposition. They set up their own commission to examine how well they're doing. They limit the parameters of the fairness review, and then they say: "Oh my God, that stamp of approval. We created the stamp. The size of the stamp and the ink the stamp is going to use justifies everything we did." Wow, aren't those high standards?

Is it the minister's point, then, that the fairness commissioner looked at the CP Rail letter?

Hon. G. Collins: I believe so.

J. MacPhail: Did cabinet decide that the fairness commissioner was able to deal with CP Rail's allegations?

Hon. G. Collins: No, I believe the fairness commissioner did.

J. MacPhail: Well, the fairness commissioner said that they didn't deal with the allegations and that it was not part of their review. The fairness commissioner, in its report, said: "We did not have the right to review those kinds of allegations." Did anyone else deal with them?

Hon. G. Collins: That's why the member should be asking the Minister of Transportation these questions.

J. MacPhail: If I want to know who made the decision to cut a $750 million deal with B.C. Rail, with CN …. It ain't one billion, Mr. Chair ... It's $745 million, actually, and the taxpayers are on the hook for the other $255 million in indemnity — $745 million. I'm to ask the Minister of Transportation what went on at Treasury Board, what went on at cabinet. Did the Minister of Transportation sit on Treasury Board at that time? ...

Hon. G. Collins: The current Minister of Transportation did at the time. I don't know whether he attended all the meetings. In fact, I know he probably hasn't attended all the Treasury Board meetings. I've already described for the member, to the best of my knowledge, how this transaction took place. If she wants to pursue it further, she should take it up with the Minister of Transportation. I've also said that the ultimate decision-maker was cabinet. It's always cabinet.


J. MacPhail: Yeah. Well, I assert that cabinet didn't make any decision about this deal before the deal was announced — none whatsoever. I also assert that cabinet didn't deal with CP Rail's accusations and neither did the fairness commissioner.

Note: G West said...

Mary, the gain on the transaction was 199 million dollars.

The details are in note 33 of this pdf:

Look at page 44 of the pdf version.

Selling this as a billion dollar gain is nonsense.



Oh, Joy! Where are you now??

Hansard, March 3, 2004

J. MacPhail [at that time, Leader of the two-person Loyal Opposition in the B.C. Legislature]: Is the minister still chair of Treasury Board? Does the Minister of Finance still do that?

Hon. G. Collins [at that time, B.C. Minister of Finance]: Yes, last time I checked.

J. MacPhail: When was the last time the B.C. Rail deal, either the spur line to Roberts Bank or the completion of the sale of the rail line in the north, was brought to Treasury Board?

Hon. G. Collins: I'm trying to recall if and when that would have happened. B.C. Rail was, as I mentioned, a stand-alone transaction that was being led by Mr. Trumpy — and, obviously, led through the Ministry of Transportation. There were analysts, and expertise was sought from both the public and private sectors as part of that. All those issues were presented to the review committee, which was specifically designed to deal with this transaction, and then went to cabinet.

The people and analysts who would have analyzed this as it came through Treasury Board would have been similar people who worked on the file. The comptroller general would obviously have been consulted. The Deputy Minister of Finance would have been involved and any other people within the ministry or Treasury Board staff that the team thought was appropriate.

J. MacPhail: I didn't hear even a month. Can the minister consult with anybody to find out?

Hon. G. Collins: I did consult, first of all. As I said, I don't recall it coming specifically to Treasury Board as such. There was a committee or a team that was putting it together under the leadership of Mr. Trumpy and the Minister of Transportation. There were analysts that were pulled from across government and the Crown, as well as the private sector, to do the analysis of this transaction. It went to a review committee, which I described to the member yesterday. Then the entire cabinet looked at the proposal, made a review,

[ Page 9049 ]

determined what they wanted to do, made a decision and moved forward with it.

J. MacPhail: I'm actually quite taken aback. Is there no Treasury Board decision minute on the B.C. Rail deal?

Hon. G. Collins: We'll try and determine that for the member. I'm not aware of one.

J. MacPhail: It didn't go to cabinet for final approval before the big frou-frou public announcement by the Premier. The cabinet meeting occurred — because I went through these Hansard debates yesterday — before CP Rail made its accusations of unfairness on the bid. The minister doesn't know if there was a Treasury Board minute. Where is the decision point on this deal, and when was it?


Hon. G. Collins: I've described the process to the best of my knowledge, as well as the role of Treasury Board and the staff that might have been in the Ministry of Finance. I know the member had that discussion with the Minister of Transportation in the fall. If she wants to pursue that discussion further, she should take it up with the Minister of Transportation in his estimates.

J. MacPhail: No, no. That's not my question. Where is the decision to spend money? Where is that decision point?

Hon. G. Collins: We're actually making a billion dollars on this transaction.

J. MacPhail: No. Oh, honestly. What a ridiculous statement for the minister to make. What an absolutely ridiculous statement. Is it on that basis that he decided not to take it to Treasury Board then — because he can't remember? Isn't it funny? A billion dollars either making or spending, and he can't remember where the decision point was.

Can we just take a pause here, and then the minister can consult with his deputy minister? Is the deputy minister still secretary to the Treasury Board?

Hon. G. Collins: I've described the process to the best of my knowledge. The member had a full discussion with the then Minister of Transportation at the time about the cabinet decision on this issue. I discussed it a bit yesterday with the member, again to the best of my knowledge. It was a decision of all of cabinet. That's the final decision-making body of government. Cabinet said: "Go do this transaction. There are these few things we want you to deal with. If you can make that happen, then make the deal." That was a decision.

J. MacPhail: Was the minister at the cabinet meeting?

Hon. G. Collins: Yes.

Amazing, isn't it?? This is, no doubt, the stuff well shielded by "Cabinet privilege" from being considered in Supreme Court as relevant to the Basi Virk Basi / BC Rail case. I'll post more of this Hansard debate soon, with special thanks to Lynx who re-discovered it. It's all there in the public record for March 4, 2004.

See also -- RAILGATE SIX -- for analysis of how many of these relevant Cabinet ministers have now left the Campbell government. - BC Mary.

AND ... G West reports in:

G West said...

Mary, the gain on the transaction was 199 million dollars.

The details are in note 33 of this pdf:

Look at page 44 of the pdf version.

Selling this as a billion dollar gain is nonsense.

June 24, 2008 10:09 AM


Monday, June 23, 2008


Mayor claims hands tied on Battershill file

Here's the latest non-news report on former Victoria Police Chief Paul Battershill (who will undoubtedly be a Crown witness at the Basi Virk Trial). The Province published nothing about it today. Vancouver Sun published only the first 3 paragraphs of Rob Shaw's report. This longer version is from Times Colonist but still says virtually nothing while "suggesting" a lot. The private opinion of a seasoned newsman leads me to believe that there's not much to worry about, even if Battershill's whole file were to be fully opened today. Put on your political hat, and it figures, don't you think? - BC Mary.



Regulations delay action in police chief's suspension

Rob Shaw
Times Colonist - Monday, June 23, 2008

Victoria's mayor says he understands the growing sense of frustration in the community as the case of suspended police chief Paul Battershill continues to drag on without an end in sight.

"Of course, there is frustration because people want to know what's happening and people want to know what the issues are, or to bring conclusion to this," Alan Lowe said yesterday.

"The thing here is I have to follow a process outlined by the OPCC [Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner] and the [Police] Act."

That complex process no longer has any concrete deadlines. Although Lowe had hoped to meet Battershill for a "disciplinary hearing" into the matter by now, he said it may be another 30 days, or more, before that occurs and the case potentially closes.

{Snip} ...

Under the elaborate Police Act rules, just because Battershill faces a disciplinary hearing does not mean he will be disciplined. The range of discipline options begins at no discipline at all. Other options, depending on what allegations might be substantiated, include verbal or written reprimand, counselling, training, suspension, transfer, reduction of rank and dismissal.

Police Act investigations are not public and are exempt from provincial Freedom of Information rules. The full report on Battershill is not expected to be released. Lowe has said he would release whatever information his lawyers said he could.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, which is overseeing the entire case, may also call a public hearing or order another investigation if it has concerns. Deputy commissioner Bruce Brown said the Battershill case is "moving forward" as lawyers negotiate future meetings.

North Van's Grumps said...

Overwhelmed with information.

BC Mary asks the question "Does it really take 8 months to look into "a personnel issue"?

My daily "rounds" start off with BC Mary, then Bill Tieleman and then I drift back to my roots, North Van (where they wear horse blinders to only focus on north vancouver issues... the rest of bc doesn't exist). Then I go down the list of BC Mary's links. For example, Pacific Gazetteer had "RailGate Revisited - Hansard's Revenge, The Prequel" which led me to Andrew Thomas Cowan and his status as an "Informant"...... he along with Harriman, Chouinard, Reece, Clarke, Hartwig, Gresham, Callens were all involved in Everywhichway which started off the BC Rail breach of trust charges involving Basi\Virk.

I've got to tell you, I'm a relatively newcomer to this blog topic, and all the other blogs which are joined at the hip on the same subject matter.

BC Mary has this great huge long list of archived Posts and I just don't have the time to look through a data base that goes back almost five years. Thanks to BC Mary I may search for keywords, but what are those keywords.

The names listed above were the RCMP officers that stormed our legislative buildings, along with the Victoria's Battershill police forces. How do all these "items" tie together? How does a Ken Dobell, as Cabinet Secretary, as a Deputy Premier, think he has a free rein to determine which documents are for the Courts to see or should be hidden by Cabinet privilege from public view, and why should he appear ???? to have passed along to the premier, and his fellow cabinet ministers, which documents that the Special Prosecutor and the RCMP are interested in, specifically?

We live in the Worl Wide Web; we communicate via the www; and yet there is no one place on the internet that takes all of the archived data, all of the comments written by blogger Bill Tieleman et al; that gives a clear indication of why the BC Liberals didn't stick with their election promise of not selling BC Rail. If they had, we wouldn't be spending hours of time writing about Wally Opall repeatedly saying "No Comment".

In regards to David Basi being charged, RCMP Cst. Cowan's statement as an Informant is very concise, very enlightening, even with parts of it heavily censored with black ink. There are several other statements made by the same officers on others who are involved in the BC Rail breach of trust which is before the courts. He's even included Frank ...oops... Erik Bornman(n) and Brian Kieran of Pilothouse where they paid out $30,000 (twice???) indirectly to two of those named in the corruption charges.

To answer BC Mary's question if it really takes 8 months, well, "Yes, it does". As of April 30th of this year, the RCMP were into a 9 month background check on their boss, former Solicitor-General John Les, and the meter is still running almost two months later without even a whisper of a result being announced.

The "$64,000 question" is not so much as who reimbursed the singular VISA account for the plane tickets so that the Basi/Virk husband and wife teams could fly down to Denver to sit beside track Executives who were busy lobbying their favours via Bornman(n) and Kieran.....What I would like to know is what was the score at the football game and were they betting on a rigged sport.

June 24, 2008 7:35 AM

Blogger BC Mary said...

North Van's Grumps,

Every blogger should be so lucky as to have Commentors like you! Thank you immensely, especially for your encouraging words.

If you don't mind, I'm going to re-post your comment on the main page.

BC Mary gently requests, however, that you re-visit one segment of your comment, namely, the part about Paul Battershill. I must repeat: I have never met Battershill, he is not my cousin or my brother-in-law. But the fact is that his career stands up outstandingly well to scrutiny; he can't imo be compared right across the board to lobbyists or political hires, as you are suggesting here.

And so my question: does it really take 8 months to check out a genuine PERSONNEL issue? A personnel issue being quite unlike a POLITICAL, or a potentially CRIMINAL issue.

I really don't think it takes 8 months. I think we're watching the Berardino Plan repeated: delay, delay.

I think 30 days max. would've revealed "the personnel issue", if any. I've started to believe that the other 7 months is intended to allow for the build-up of this un-subtle brown cloud of innuendo. Is it a fair guess?

Because, if I'm correct, we're guilty of sitting with folded hands watching an excellent police officer being hounded, wounded, and knocked out of contention. How Mugabe is that.

Promise me, NVG, you won't be annoyed by my question -- as your contribution is so wonderfully welcome.

Because: if I am correct, Paul Battershill is exactly the calibre of police officer we so desperately need.

Plus, we need him on the witness stand at the trial of Basi, Virk, Basi because he was Chief of Police when the Victoria Police Department conducted their 20-month investigation leading up to the raids on the B.C. Legislature. OK?



Oppal, Brenner, Tieleman & others


Ian Mulgrew
Vancouver Sun - Monday, June 23, 2008

B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal and Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Brenner have run up against fierce opposition to planned sweeping changes to the province's civil legal system.

{Snip} ...

Two years in the making and scheduled to go into effect in Jan. 2010, the rule changes are supposed to make the archaic system designed in the 19th century less expensive and more efficient.

But many lawyers and some judges have balked, saying the changes will have the opposite effect.

They fear Victoria is moving stealthily to restrict citizen's rights by giving judges more managerial powers and circumscribing the legal tools available to litigants, which will make it difficult for little people to take on Big Business and Big Government.

In particular, the Trial Lawyers Association, which represents about 1,000 litigators, has been savage, saying the champions of this initiative -- former court of appeal justice Oppal and Brenner -- were going too far, too fast.

The group's efforts, which included hiring political consultant Bill Tieleman, were bolstered earlier this month when the Law Society of B.C. threw its support behind their criticism.

Law Society president John Hunter said "the public has too little assurance that the new measures will actually reduce system costs, or will advance cases through the courts more expeditiously."

He urged the rule-change proponents to examine other options.

It is a stinging rebuke of the chief justice and the attorney general's office, who both have worked hard to win support for the amendments.

{Snip} ...

Citizens will have a hard time accessing the courts and getting justice if the task force gets its way, Frame added: "It will cost more and take longer to have their lawsuits dealt with due to the unreasonable roadblocks built into the proposed rules."

This nasty brouhaha has its roots in a process that began back in early 2002 when the Liberal government launched an ambitious plan to reform the legal system.

A blue-ribbon group of stakeholders called the civil justice reform working group was formed. It issued a report in November 2006 that recommended new rules for civil litigation because lawsuits were too costly and took too much time.

The system was failing ordinary people and the proof was in the numbers -- the number of trials was declining drastically.

Proposed rules were drafted based on the principles outlined in the working group's report and the draft was released in 2007. Brenner and Deputy Attorney-General Allan Seckel stumped the province seeking input.

After hearing from lawyers, judges, bar associations, law schools, experts and the public, they revised the suggested rules and released the supposed final version this spring.

That's when critics began howling.

As a result, the chairman of the task force announced Friday there would be further discussions. William Everett said the consultation period is now being extended until the end of the year.

But Frame said that isn't good enough.

"These rule changes are fundamentally flawed," he insisted. "Delaying the implementation of fundamentally flawed rule changes won't make them any better. We think the attorney-general should step up to the plate and say sorry, but we're going back to the drawing board."

Frame added that there were systemic problems that needed to be addressed but this was not the way to go about it.

"We believe Attorney-General Oppal should now move to put the proposed changes aside and start a new process that includes full public consultation and a cooperative approach to civil law reform," he added.

The trial lawyers have scheduled a special meeting Thursday night at Vancouver's Marriott Pinnacle Hotel to marshal their forces and plot strategy.

The latest draft of the proposed rules and background information are available at


Sunday, June 22, 2008


RCMP lead investigator speaks

Tonight, Sunday, June 22, at 9:00 PM (check your local listings to confirm times in your area) CBC will broadcast AIR INDIA 182, a 96-minute commercial-free documentary in which one of the RCMP lead investigators speaks about his work on this big, complex case. To quote from Kim Bolan's article ("Air India film has audience in tears", Vancouver Sun June 16, 2008):

Retired RCMP Sgt. John Schneider first worked on the Air India file right after the bombing in 1985.

He later headed the Air India Task Force that brought Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri to trial. Both were later acquitted.

Schneider brought his wife and daughter to see the film in which he explains the difficulties of advancing the investigation of Canada's worst terrorist attack.

"I thought it was an excellent documentary. It was very factual, particularly about what the investigative agencies did and the suffering of the families," Schneider said. "The impact on the general public is going to be dynamite."

Gunnarsson [the film's author], who [Kim Bolan] helped with some of his early research for the film, wants his work to get the Air India bombing recognized as the devastating Canadian tragedy that it was.

He acknowledged the help of families who were willing to tell their stories to him. He also praised Sikh moderates, many of whom were in attendance, for fighting on the front-line in the fight against religious extremism in Canada.

Several watching the film, like Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh and Ross Street Sikh Temple president Kashmir Singh Dhaliwal, have continued to receive threats for speaking out.

Dhaliwal said Air India 182 "is the most excellent documentary I have ever seen in my life."

The Air India 182 documentary will bring together all the elements of an international tragedy with its underlying criminality. This is a rare opportunity to see how the RCMP approach such a complex task and many of us, in following the BC Rail Case, feel the need to know more about police methods.

To measure our expectations, I have pasted below an old news story from Vancouver Sun in which the complexity of criminality in B.C. is almost incomprehensible. You may wonder, as you read it: How do police cope? Where do they start?

I'm hoping that the Air India 182 documentary -- besides making us more aware of the full story behind the tragic loss -- will provide some real insights into RCMP performance in these complex criminal matters. I know that I'll be asking myself, as I watch: are our expectations of police realistic? Can police arrest enough crooks to get rid of all crime or is there something else that needs correction?

I hope others will leave their opinions and impressions here, when they've seen the Air India 182 documentary this evening. - BC Mary.


The RCMP's gangster 'hit list'

Chad Skelton, Lori Culbert and Judith Lavoie

Vancouver Sun and Victoria Times Colonist

September 10, 2004

The RCMP has compiled a secret "hit list" of B.C.'s 20 most dangerous crime bosses, a list it hopes will help it put more gangsters behind bars and strike a blow against organized crime in this province, a joint Vancouver Sun-Victoria Times Colonist investigation has learned.

And while the RCMP refuses to reveal the names of the individuals on its list -- for fear of tipping off potential investigation targets -- it will reveal which group it considers the province's biggest criminal threat: The Hells Angels.

OMG [outlaw motorcycle gangs] is the top," said Supt. Dick Grattan, head of the RCMP's criminal intelligence section in B.C.

Grattan said biker-gang members make up the largest proportion of people on the force's Top 20 list, an annual ranking known as the Strategic Threat Assessment that the Mounties in B.C. have been producing for the past few years.

Asian organized-crime figures make up the second-largest group on the list, followed by Eastern European gangsters.

"The Top 20 would be the ones who have the most influence over organized crime in the province," Grattan said.

{Snip} ...

To prevent leaks, the RCMP's threat assessment has been closely guarded by the force.

Even senior organized-crime investigators in the province have only been allowed to review the list and have not been given their own copies.

According to police, the list represents a shift in the RCMP's approach to investigating organized crime. Until recently, said Grattan, the force was "commodity focused" -- measuring success by the volume of drugs it seized.

The problem with that approach, however, is that it often only ensnared the smaller players, leaving many of the kingpins untouched. The goal now, Grattan said, is for police to focus their investigations on the most influential and powerful crime figures, in the hope that putting such people behind bars will destabilize criminal organizations.

And while the RCMP doesn't have the resources to launch investigations into all 20 figures on its list, Grattan said investigations are underway -- or in the planning stages -- for at least half of them.

When the Mounties decided a few years ago to compile such a list, their first challenge was who to include. A preliminary list of all the known organized-crime figures in B.C. turned up 185 names, broken down into 85 separate groups -- some just small street-gangs of a few people each.

To winnow down the list, crime figures were ranked on 19 separate factors, including use of violence, infiltration into legitimate businesses and ability to corrupt officials. That combination of factors is what landed many of B.C.'s Hells Angels members in the Top 20. A heavily edited copy of the 2003 Strategic Threat Assessment, provided to The Vancouver Sun by the RCMP, indicates how high a priority the Angels have become.

"Within British Columbia, the influence attached to the Hells Angels organization and their symbols cannot be overstated," the report states. "Since their inception in 1948, the Hells Angels organization has evolved into a structure that is designed to facilitate and protect the criminal enterprises of its membership."

Insp. Andy Richards is a biker-gang expert with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, a group within the RCMP that's taken over many duties of the Organized Crime Agency of B.C.

Richards said what makes Angels membership so attractive to criminals is that the gang has a reputation in the criminal world for violence and power -- making it easier for members to collect drug debts and intimidate the competition.

While a gang member with a Hells Angels patch on his jacket may be an easier target for police than an Asian gangster, the association with the Angels is worth the risk, he said.

"It's the power of the patch. Once you have that patch, you have that standing out there in the criminal world that people are afraid of. Violence and intimidation is the gas that runs the engine of the Hells Angels."

A growing police fear is that the Hells Angels are infiltrating the quick-cash businesses, such as cheque cashing and money lending, although none are yet listed as owners of record.

In Vancouver and Kamloops, Hells Angels have bought cellphone stores and are rumoured to be setting up their own phone companies. In Kelowna, Hells Angels from around the Lower Mainland have large real-estate holdings and their business interests range from an up-market clothing store to a tattoo parlour.

Supt. Don Harrison, RCMP district officer of the south-east district of E Division, can drive around Kelowna, where he believes a Hells Angels chapter is about to open up, and point to expensive properties, brand-new condos and businesses owned by Angels. "These people are extremely well-organized. The profits they are making are enormous," he said.

However, while the Angels are powerful, police say they are not hierarchical in the same way as traditional organized crime, where everybody reports to a single boss. While each Angels chapter has a president who looks after club business, police say the criminal activities of the bikers are less formally structured.

"It's not like the Mafia, where everything goes to the top," Richards said.

He said Hells Angels members essentially run their own operations, with their own associates and underlings. "Once you're a full member, you're at the top, if you want to be, of your own little criminal enterprise," he said.

Richards said the Angels in B.C. have grown incredibly rich in recent years, in large part due to heavy involvement in the marijuana trade in the 1990s. "The Angels in B.C. were one of the very first groups to industrialize the marijuana business -- setting up and investing in multiple large grows and producing large shipments for export," he said. "The B.C. bud industry has made the Hells Angels, some of them, extremely wealthy."

But, as pot raids have increased, Richards said, some Angels have stepped back from growing marijuana and have taken on a greater role as brokers and middlemen, helping to ship marijuana into the United States.

One of the main reasons why the Angels are such a high priority for police is that their power and money has allowed them to infiltrate the legitimate economy. From supermarkets to clothing stores, the Angels have a stake in all kinds of businesses. Indeed, many people in B.C. regularly shop at Angels' businesses without even knowing it.

But nowhere is the infiltration of the Angels more apparent than at the ports.

Police in B.C. have often tried to play down the role of biker gangs at the Vancouver and Delta ports.

But The Sun has learned that a secret 2001 report by the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. identified by name five full members of the Hells Angels who work at the Vancouver and Delta ports, along with more than 30 known associates.

And in a speech to a meeting of provincial justice ministers in Vancouver in December 1999, Bev Busson -- then chief of the OCA, and now head of the RCMP in B.C. -- left little doubt about the influence of the Angels at the ports.

"[The] Hells Angels in B.C. . . . control much of the production and export of high-grade indoor-grown marijuana and the importation and distribution of cocaine," said Busson, according to a copy of her speech obtained by The Sun through an Access to Information request. "Millions of dollars change hands in this import-export business. Smuggling methods are diverse and include unchecked containers at the Port of Vancouver, an area under the control of the Hells Angels."

Insp. Doug Kiloh, the RCMP's major case manager at the ports, said he is aware of Hells Angels members working at the ports and said it is possible for anyone employed at the ports -- whether an Angel or not -- to commit crimes. But he played down the Angels' strength on the waterfront. "It's an unfair characterization to say that the Hells Angels run the ports," he said. "In my view, it's absolutely false."

Onkar Athwal, vice-president of operations for the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, said he's not aware of specific Angels members working at the ports, but it wouldn't surprise him. "I don't personally know of any individuals, but I am aware that there probably are some," he said.

However, Athwal disputed the suggestion that the Angels control activity at the ports. "I don't think they're controlling anything," he said.

Athwal said longshoremen are not subject to criminal-record checks or other background checks before working at the ports. However, Transport Canada has proposed new regulations that would require port workers -- like airport workers -- to be subject to background checks before working in restricted areas.

Public consultations on the new regulations -- known as the Marine Facilities Restricted Areas Access Clearance Program -- will begin Sept. 20 and the regulations will likely be implemented early in 2005.

Ciarniello denied five Angels members are working at the ports, saying he's only aware of two -- something he thinks shouldn't be an issue. "What is wrong with having a bloody job?" he said. "These guys are out there working. But because they're Hells Angels, you've got to put a twist on it."

Ciarniello added that people identified by police as "associates" may simply be friends of Hells Angels members.

"Being somebody who . . . knows the Hells Angels is not reason to assume that there is something criminal going on," he said.

After the Hells Angels, the second-highest organized-crime priority for the RCMP is Asian organized crime, which includes both Chinese and Vietnamese gangs.

Chinese gangs known as the Big Circle Boys are involved in a wide variety of activities, including drug importation and human smuggling -- but are also heavily involved in credit-card fraud and loan sharking.

Vietnamese gangs, on the other hand, are primarily involved in marijuana growing -- although they have recently begun to expand into methamphetamine labs.

Eastern European crime groups are a more recent phenomenon in B.C., but have grown steadily in the past 15 years, according to police. According to the RCMP's 2003 report, Eastern European gangsters are involved in a wide variety of illicit activities, "ranging from street-level theft and [drug] trafficking to sophisticated fraud and money-laundering schemes."

Eastern European crime groups have also been implicated in sophisticated debit-card scams.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the RCMP's Top 20 list, however, is the group that didn't make the cut: Indo-Canadian gangs.

In the past decade, more than 60 Indo-Canadian men in the Lower Mainland have been murdered in a wave of gang violence.

However, Insp. Wade Blizard of the RCMP's criminal intelligence section said that while Indo-Canadian gang members are extremely violent, they are considered by police to be far less sophisticated than other groups, such as outlaw motorcycle gangs or Asian organized crime.

Staff Sgt. Wayne Rideout, head of the RCMP's Integrated Homicide Team -- responsible for investigating many of the Indo-Canadian gang deaths -- said most Indo-Canadian gangsters are relatively small players in the drug trade, often only a few steps above street dealers.

"They're not the millionaire gangsters," said Rideout. "They don't appear to be into the huge shipments. They tend to be low- end. Most of the people we investigate have leased cars. They drive fancy vehicles, but they don't have any assets."

The closest comparison to Indo-Canadian gangsters, said Rideout, is the inner-city street gangs in Los Angeles. "They're drawn by the status," he said.

Rideout said police estimate there are 30 to 40 separate Indo-Canadian gangs in the Lower Mainland, each made up of about three or four key members and maybe a dozen associates.

For the most part, he said, Indo-Canadian gangsters don't have the money at their disposal to move up the drug-trade food chain. "They don't have the cash base to go out there and buy homes like the Vietnamese [gangs]," said Rideout.

Which means, he said, that while Indo-Canadian gangsters are often involved in ripping off growing operations, they rarely set them up themselves.

And many, said Rideout, still live at home with their families.

"They're all mama's boys," he said. "They live with their moms. Their moms wash their clothes. Their moms cook their meals. And they go out and commit murders and then come home."

The violence among Indo-Canadian gangs is also more sporadic than in other crime groups, said Rideout. While Asian gangs or bikers may carry out calculated hits or acts of extortion for economic reasons, many Indo-Canadian killings are over issues of pride or bravado, he said -- sometimes over something as simple as an insult.

"It's done more for passion than economics," he said.

Yet, despite their lack of sophistication, Indo-Canadian gangs are still a concern for police because their violence has greater potential to hurt innocent bystanders than the violence of other gangs.

"The bikers tend to take someone out in the bush," Rideout said. "But the East Indians want to let people know that they're capable of doing it, so they want to do it in the most brazen way possible."

That means shootings in clubs and restaurants -- or spraying homes with gunfire -- all of which increase the potential that innocent bystanders could get caught in the crossfire.

Rideout said police get reports of about three to four drive-by shootings a week in the Lower Mainland that are connected to Indo-Canadian gang violence. "It's miraculous that no one [innocent] has been shot in their bed," said Rideout. "It's going to happen. They're so unpredictable and bravado-driven."

Police admit that, in the past few decades, they haven't had as much success as they'd like in combatting organized crime.

The Mounties' own 2003 report cites an "historical failure" in gathering and distributing intelligence on organized-crime groups to front-line investigators. While police have gathered significant information on organized-crime figures, the report states, "little . . . has been recorded in a consistent manner or in a format and place accessible to intelligence personnel."

Richards admits the track record of police in B.C. is not great. "I've talked about the collective failure of law enforcement to recognize the bikers as an organized-crime threat," he said, noting the Angels arrived in B.C. in 1983. "They ran pretty much unfettered for a long time and became very well established."

But police are hopeful that things are beginning to change.

Police and prosecutors have racked up a handful of successful prosecutions against biker-gang members and Asian organized-crime figures in recent years -- such as the conviction of Hells Angels members Ronaldo Lising and Francisco Pires for cocaine trafficking in 2001.

And they are hopeful things will get better. "I've seen some slow and steady progress in the last few years," Richards said.

"We're beginning to see additional resources and manpower directed towards the fight against the bikers.

"I think we're beginning to get it right in B.C. I think it's becoming enough of a priority for enough people."

B.C.'s Organized Crime Families:

Hells Angels and Vietnamese gangs are considered the most sophisticated groups, while Indo-Canadian gangs rank among the most violent

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs/Hells Angels

Size: There are 95 members of the Hells Angels in seven chapters in the Lower Mainland and Nanaimo. There are also dozens of "associates" who are trusted friends of club members and assist in criminal activities.

Criminal activities: Heavily involved in B.C.'s $6-billion marijuana-growing industry, importing and distributing cocaine, hashish and increasingly, methamphetamine. Extortion, debt collection.

Propensity for violence: High. The Angels rule by fear and intimidation and aren't afraid to use violence to protect turf and criminal interests. Police are concerned about the Bandidos, a U.S. motorcycle gang already established in Washington state, moving into B.C. and sparking violence.

Level of sophistication: High. This is reflected in the low number of successful prosecutions.

Geographic reach: The Hells Angels have a network of chapters across Canada, the U.S., South America, Africa and Europe.

Structure/hierarchy: Organized into chapters in various cities, but no single crime boss. Each member works as his own boss, if he wants, and in small cells to elude police detection. "They are disciplined and well led," says Vancouver RCMP Insp. Bob Paulson, in charge of major investigations involving outlaw motorcycle gangs.


Size: Unknown. Police say there are dozens of small Vietnamese groups operating in B.C. The most prominent Asian gang in the Vancouver area is the Big Circle Boys, also known as Dai Huen Jai.

Criminal activities: Vietnamese groups control about 85 per cent of the marijuana-growing operations in the Lower Mainland and most of the drug trade on Vancouver Island, north of Nanaimo. They have recently branched out into methamphetamine. They also use Big Circle Boys connections to export pot to the U.S. The Big Circle Boys have made the Lower Mainland a hotbed of counterfeit credit- card fraud activity. BCB's mainstay is importing and distributing cocaine and southeast Asian heroin. BCB members have been involved in murder, loan-sharking, people-smuggling, extortion, home-invasion robberies and exporting stolen luxury cars to Asia.

Propensity for violence: Vietnamese gangsters are known for being ruthless and unpredictably violent during confrontations. Other Asian crime groups are more low-key, not wanting to attract police attention, but will resort to violence and murder to protect their criminal interests.

Level of sophistication: High. Vietnamese have developed a marijuana-growing system that has been exported to Vietnamese groups in Ontario and Australia. Big Circle Boys have computer experts for credit-card fraud and use off-shore accounts and shell companies to launder money and elude police detection.

Geographic reach: Vietnamese and Big Circle Boys have national networks in such major cities as Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal, and are expanding into smaller cities. BCB has a similar national network in the U.S. Some local Asian gangsters are connected to Hong Kong triads, secret societies of criminals.

Structure/hierarchy: Asian crime groups typically organize in small groups with low-ranking members answering to a crime boss, called a Dai Lo (big brother).

Eastern European

Size: Unknown. They are difficult for police to get a handle on because they use so many languages. Members are from Russia and other former Soviet Union countries.

Criminal activities: Mainly known for drug trafficking and credit/debit-card fraud. But also involved in people-smuggling, money-laundering, extortion, export of stolen luxury vehicles. Also have infiltrated diamond industry in Russia and southern Africa.

Propensity for violence: Medium. Don't usually like drawing police attention, but will use violence if necessary.

Level of sophistication: Varies. Often rely on expertise of individuals outside the group to assist in a criminal undertaking. Three members of a Romanian crime group were recently arrested in Vancouver for allegedly being involved in a highly sophisticated automatic-banking-machine fraud. Police say they used a bogus card -reader to download magnetic-strip information from cards and recorded personal identification numbers by using a tiny, overhead camera linked to a remote video monitor. Eastern Europeans are also involved in counterfeit currency, exporting stolen luxury cars, money-laundering and smuggling women, especially from Russia, to work as prostitutes and in massage parlours.

Geographic reach: Operate across the country but mainly concentrated in Ontario. Highly mobile with varying levels of presence in B.C., Alberta and Quebec.

Structure/hierarchy: Operate in small cells.

Independents and Indo-Canadians

Size: Unknown.

Criminal activities: Independents are primarily involved in marijuana-growing operations, where profits are used to fund legitimate businesses. They often cooperate with Asians and Hells Angels to distribute their "product." Indo-Canadians operate many dial-a-dope operations, using pagers and cellphones to deliver drugs on the street. Indo-Canadian truckers are lured by quick cash to smuggle B.C.-grown marijuana across the U.S. border.

Propensity for violence: High, mainly because members are young and show poor impulse

control. Shifting allegiances lead to violence, usually involving guns, among Indo-Canadian males. There have been more than 60 gang-related murders in B.C. involving Indo-Canadians in the last 15 years.

Level of sophistication: Low.

Geographic reach: Concentrated primarily in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, lower Vancouver Island and Alberta.

Structure/hierarchy: Loosely organized in small groups of friends and relatives.

Traditional (Italian-Based) Organizations

Size: Unknown.

Criminal activities: Involved in illegal gaming such as sports betting, marijuana-growing operations, drug distribution, overseas lottery-ticket sales, debt collection and stock-market manipulation. Invest profits in real estate and such traditional businesses as construction companies, bars and restaurants.

Propensity for violence: Medium to high. Don't like to attract police attention.

Level of sophistication: Medium. Most groups have existed for several generations.

Geographic reach: Concentrated primarily in Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara region of Ontario. While Mafia members remain low-profile in the Vancouver area, they do exist and have a symbiotic relationship with the Hells Angels in B.C. that is based on "social ties and illicit businesses," says the 2004 Annual Report on Organized Crime in Canada, published by the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada.

Structure/hierarchy: Operate in small groups but report to a crime boss known as the godfather.