Friday, March 20, 2009


Building a propaganda case for destroying BC Rail

Robin Mathews

Questions nag ... and nag ... about the corrupt sale of BC Rail. Corrupt. Gordon Campbell made an election promise not to sell BC Rail. Then the Campbell forces set about, semi-secretly, to break trust, under terms which excluded BC interests and that used a process which two participant bidders described as unfair.

CPR and BNSF withdrew, the latter citing "serious questions of ethics and fairness". BNSF (November 24, 2003) also complained of the "failure of CIBC to follow the process that CIBC and the government said would be followed".

Paul Nettleton, thrust out of Liberal caucus for fighting the dismemberment of BC Hydro, remarked about the sale of BC Rail on January 6, 2004, on CKPG that "the process wasn't fair. It wasn't open. It wasn't transparent".

When, out of a hat, the Campbell forces pulled a U.S. corporation "to complete" a "fairness report" (Charles River Associates), satisfaction was not achieved. Peter Rickershauser, for BNSF, found the report unsatisfactory on many counts - one of the most obvious: Charles River Associates didn't bother to interview the bidding companies involved! Also BNSF recorded that the Gordon Campbell forces did not reveal to bidders a major term of consideration.

That last fact was spotted by the Alberta/B.C. company Ferroequus which refused even to bid because, it appears, it believed it was being misled about government requirements (in order to get lots of bidders who could be said to have "failed" in the bidding?).

A reasonable observer might conclude that the sale of BC Rail was seriously tainted because the Gordon Campbell forces were determined to misrepresent its real state, to pretend it was a huge liability, to organize civil servants, management of BC Rail, perhaps CIBC World Markets, perhaps many others to propagandize, on the basis of "cooked" information, for a sale, and then to sell it to political friends - whatever the cost to B.C.

Over and over, at the time, critics accused the Campbell forces of using accounting tricks to claim BC Rail was losing money and of setting it up, falsely, for destruction. Paul Nettleton backs up their position. On January 6, 2004, Nettleton (on radio) told an interviewer this:

"The inner working of the Campbell administration really is all about micromanagement, control over cabinet [and] caucus, with a healthy dose of intimidation. They certainly tried to intimidate me. When they failed they resorted to enticement from the highest levels in an attempt to silence me. The person they used was David Basi."

In the hand-written pages by Yvette Wells, Director of the Crown Agencies Secretariat, light shines through, revealing a group building a propaganda case for destroying BC Rail while pretending not to do so.

April 17, 2003. "Can we back up debt spiral [at BCR] with evidence?"

May 12, 2003. "shouldn't talk about purchase/sale".

May 13, 2003. "Have we made the product sound too good?"

May 17, 2003. "Some concern that there is a deal with CN - CIBC has dealt well with this not being the case. Want to ensure this is not communicated."

They didn't talk about "purchase/sale", because orders were out.

On June 6, 2003 (to the village of Pemberton) Gordon Campbell wrote of a "new partnership".

He wrote on September 3 to the Ferroequus Railway Co. of an "investment partnership with CN", and on November 25, 2003, again, of "a new BC Rail Investment Partnership". On June 8, 2004, Kevin Falcon wrote of "BC Rail's partnership with CN Rail." Examples are everywhere.

BC Rail did not enter a partnership with CN. All statements of the kind quoted may fairly be considered concerted attempts to mislead British Columbians, concerted activity involving moral breach of trust.

Messages poured in to Gordon Campbell. One: "This is not a partnership. It is a total sell-out of a Crown corporation owned by the taxpayers." Another: "I didn't realize you were a liar." One writer challenged falsifications about the solvency of BCR: "Why do you keep dodging the issue?" Yet another: "doesn't it bother you that you were elected based on a complete deception?" Anger at betrayal of trust was expressed over and over and over.

The Gordon Campbell forces charged on, obviously engaging in a betrayal of the electorate. What is more, to maintain the breach of trust the Campbell forces had to engage in heavy damage control - what Paul Nettleton called "micromanagement, control over cabinet [and] caucus, with a healthy dose of intimidation."

Many people believed (and believe) the sellout was a crime, highly organized and executed. But they couldn't get at it because the Campbell forces - many believed - controlled the law, the police, and the courts. Search as people might, they couldn't find a law, an instrument they could use to meet the activities of the Campbell forces. The Campbell forces were confident no one would.

There was - no doubt - breach of trust by public officers. That is a primary fact. As Sgt. John Ward of the RCMP was quoted as saying on December 30, 2003 just after the "raid" on the legislature, "organized crime has many, many faces".

Then something happened the Campbell forces hadn't planned for.

A 20-month investigation by Victoria police and RCMP began to move like a juggernaut. First a drug investigation, it became a commercial crime investigation, too, and then it landed in the legislature.

The investigation became so hydra-headed RCMP gave it the name "every-which-way". A key contact point in the legislature was, apparently, wire-taps on the telephone used by Dave Basi, powerful aide to the Gary Collins, Minister of Finance.

And, then, on December 28, 2003, search warrants were put in action to "raid" offices of the B.C. legislature, many homes, and offices in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. A year later Dave Basi, Bob Virk, and Aneal Basi were charged variously with counts of fraud, breach of trust, and money laundering.

On a BCTV program, December 29, 2003, Keith Baldrey recorded that "Bob Virk [is] in Transportation. Transportation is responsible for the BC Rail initiative and Finance had a larger role than most and that's again where Dave Basi comes in."

Almost all the other people visited or searched as a result of the warrants - many connected to both the Gordon Campbell and federal Liberals - have had the search warrants involving them all-but blanked out, as protection. Christie Clark, minister of education and deputy premier, was in line to have her home raided it is alleged. But it is alleged that Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm reasoned with police to have them telephone in advance and make an appointment to visit. Thoughtful of him.

The "something" that happened obviously galvanized the Campbell forces. The BC Rail sellout had hit what might be a network involving drug crime, breach of trust by public officers, bribery, money laundering, and perhaps much more. All of it might, perhaps surround, involve, connect to, and be part of - who knows? - the corrupt sale of BC Rail.

The BC Rail sellout had hit "crimes" that have "laws" to meet them - criminal laws. The Gordon Campbell forces couldn't stop the charges being laid, even if they wanted to, because there were so many investigators and investigations involved.

Had two kinds of organized crime, acting independently, suddenly met head-on? Or was one an arm of the larger organized crime network, suddenly trapped in dangerous waters? The Gordon Campbell forces became trapped. If the three men accused were acting under orders, one might theorize, everything had to be done to prevent trial so that cabinet members could avoid charges against them and so the government wouldn't fall.

If the three men accused were acting wholly independently - still everything had to be done to prevent trial. The digging up of evidence to defend the men would bare the sleaze and manipulation and breach of trust used by the Gordon Campbell forces to sell BC Rail corruptly. It would reveal the network of organization to produce the necessary "crimes without laws" to destroy BC Rail.

The fix appears, then, to have been in. Now, more than five years after the search warrant "raids" on B.C. legislature offices, the pre-trial hearings concerning the three accused are still limping and stumbling and faltering in the Supreme Court of B.C.

On May 7, 2007 Canadian Press released a story on the charges against the accused more or less presenting the position of the Prosecution. Putting aside the drug-related events, in "November 2003, police learned that [Dave] Basi was involved in alleged criminal matters related to the sale of Crown-owned B.C. Rail, Winteringham [lawyer for the Crown] said." [Notice Winteringham doesn't speak of an "investment partnership" but "the sale".]

"Bobby Virk, Basi's brother-in-law, who was an aide to then-transportation minister Judith Reid, is also facing fraud and breach of trust charges while Aneal Basi, another cousin, is charged with money-laundering in the B.C. Rail case."

"The Crown alleges that between May 2003 and December 2003 Basi and Virk received benefits from lobbyists at a firm called Pilothouse Public Affairs Group in exchange for providing them with confidential government documents regarding the sale of B.C. Rail."

"Pilothouse was representing OmniTRAX, an American company that was among the bidders for B.C. Rail."

In the same story Canadian Press reported that Defence counsel "has alleged that [Gary] Collins [Minister of Finance] promised OmniTRAX a 'consolation prize' to stay in the bidding to provide [for the Gordon Campbell forces] the appearance of a real bidding process", and perhaps to drive up the price of BC Rail. Defence alleges "the RCMP abruptly dropped investigating him [Collins] to focus on their clients" [Basi, Virk, and Basi].

"Winteringham said there was no consensus among police officers as to Collins's role and that various investigators had different views about whether he was even under investigation."

This member of the B.C. public who sits day after day in the B.C. Supreme Court to follow the matter, has drawn some conclusions.

(1) The BC Rail Scandal cases point to a serious break-down of democratic institutions in B.C. As we see, just for instance, Wally Oppal, Attorney General of the Province - "chief law officer of the Crown" - plays every kind of clown to keep information about the corrupt sale of BC Rail from the people of the Province. Gordon Campbell refuses even to admit questions are being asked. Someone else answers questions directed to him in the legislature.

(2) The break-down is pointed to over and over again in the pre-trial hearings.

(3) To me, the Special Crown Prosecutor has failed to advance the process, and has been a party to its delay.

(4) To me, the RCMP has delayed tediously, and then has disclosed materials requested in ways that are simply unacceptable. The RCMP has, as I see it, put almost every obstacle in the way of clean and direct reporting of investigation. The RCMP may be said - as I see their role - to have "Robert Dziekansky'd" the whole operation.

(5) To me, almost all agents serving or connected to the Gordon Campbell forces give the impression of obstructing and delaying proceedings - agents for the cabinet, the Liberal MLAs, the RCMP, and BC Rail.

(6) To me, the profound importance of the proceedings should have touched the presiding judge, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett. I don't think it has. Seeing the huge importance and the implications of the BC Rail Scandal, she needed to seize upon the full meaning of 'the majesty of the law'. This, after all, is the most important public trial in B.C. history.

BC Rail is a possession of all the people British Columbia that has been alienated by breach of trust. Allegedly, in part, it has been alienated, too, by criminal breach of trust and - perhaps - by many more actions of criminal breach of trust than we have been allowed to see.

The role of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett should have been to inform British Columbians regularly and as fully as possible about all aspects of the case. To me, she has seriously failed to do that. To me, she has seemed to use special care to keep information from British Columbians.

Her role should have been to demand of cabinet, BC Rail, RCMP - on threat of Contempt of Court - that they provide full and open and expeditious cooperation. Her role should have been to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that - even when a government is involved - the process of justice will move without hindrance. As I see the matter, she has not done that. Why not? The very kindest explanation must be, I believe, that like the Roman emperor Nero, she fiddles (with the rule book and precedent and visible delaying tactics) while justice and the social order of British Columbia burn.

Finally, to me, there is a huge irony in the BC Rail Scandal. The Gordon Campbell forces have used elaborate breaches of trust to dump BC Rail and steal it from the people of the Province. They have done the same thing, secretly, against election promises, to BC Hydro. The Gordon Campbell forces, I believe, have robbed British Columbians of billions and billions of dollars worth of assets as well as present and future wealth - without facing a single criminal accusation. Instead, the spotlight in the Supreme Courtrooms of B.C. is on three cabinet aides who - amidst the flood of dishonesty the Province has been swimming in - are accused of benefiting to the tune of some tens of thousands of dollars.

What better indication can there be of the collapse of a just social order? Three men (whatever their guilt or innocence) are, I believe, being used as sacrificial goats behind whom masters of chicanery, manipulation, greed, and violation of trust posture as guardians of The Good. And they use - it seems to me - all the institutions devoted to the safety and security of the population to help them in their venal activities.


When the raid took place Dec.'03. there wasn't any mention of BC Rail.It was all about police corrution,organised crime, terrorism and political interference...the torture of silence is on going.
Good morning, 7:12:

RCMP Staff Sgt. John Ward didn't mention BC Rail in his famous press conference to explain the raids ... did he.

On the other hand, police on the same day of the raid, visited the homes or offices of Christy Clark, Erik Bornmann, Brian Kierans, Bruce Clark, Mark Marissen searching for documents pertaining to BC Rail.

I do agree with you: there's a "torture of silence" ongoing. And supposing we'd like to complain to the authorities about that, WHO would we write to, phone, e.mail, or visit?

Darned if I know.

For what it's worth, I think it would help a great deal if the premier of this province would go to the nearest TV station and deliver a speech to the people he's expected to serve. He should have the decency to acknowledge the torture British Columbians are being put through, and admit that it's harmful, that it's serving no good purpose.

Then a credible leader would commit to two immediate actions:

1) a full public inquiry into the sale of BC Rail,

2) repeal of the Campbell law which seals the findings of public inquiries.

If the next premier is a new premier, let her activate those two commitments. In fact, I think Ms James would coast to victory by guaranteeing in her election campaign an immediate Public Inquiry into the sale of BC Rail ... immediate, so that we understand precisely what's at risk before the 5th anniversary of the signing: 12 July 2009. Before further losses of BCR lands are triggered.

One thing is for sure, Those who hide, Those who sit smuggly (dare I say arrogant), behind once upon a time Cabinet privileged secrecy, can now be held accountable. Their belief that what they write, in emails, letters, faxes and other means of communication are not beyond the reach of the public if it appears that they have crossed the line of law.

The defense lawyers for the three ministrial aides of Virk/Basi/Virk have used their professional skills to bring much to the surface and with the help of the NDP, to the attention of the public. Just how much more has been seen by the defense lawyers (two binders)..... and how much more has only seen the light of day in the presence of BC Liberal cabinet members and their non-elected spin doctoring handlers?

Before the Legislature was raided, Cabinet documents were secure from scrutiney by the public. After the raid, many pages have become an open, well thumbed book with several pages censored (for our protection or theirs). Too bad the Open and Transparent government of Gordon Campbell had to be achieved by the corruption of the few from within, seeking to find fame and fortune on the back of BC Rail's future, where those we entrusted not to sell it, did exactly that.
Robin, as usual, you have almost outdone yourself with this extremely coherent exposition of the void into which the Campbell Cabal has tried to assign all things related to the BC Rail THEFT.

"Many people believed (and believe) the sellout was a crime, highly organized and executed. But they couldn't get at it because the Campbell forces - many believed - controlled the law, the police, and the courts. "

Include this cowboy in the many who believe that the Campbell forces STILL control the law, the police and the courts (not to mention the sorry excuse for a free press.

"Had two kinds of organized crime, acting independently, suddenly met head-on? "

One of the two kinds of organized crime being in this case the Campbell Government, to this observer.

It's great to read about Mr. Nettleton here today. He obviously was put into the equivalent of the Witness Protection Program for his attempts to hold his "alleged" political colleagues accountable to the people of BC, especially those in the North.

I would vote for Mr. Nettleton if he were to run for the NDP in my riding, though since he has (I assume) male genitalia that would be impossible. Personally I wish the fire hadn't gone out of Corky Evans' belly, but I'm sure it has been frustrating for him to be so powerless against the organized criminal activities of the Drunken Fuhrer.

As devastating as has been eight years of BC liaR mis-management, breach of trust and theft of public assets, if these guys get another kick at the can there won't be anything left in BC that doesn't belong to the Cabal and their cohorts.

Thanks so much Robin, without your efforts we would be even more in the dark about these evil and greedy schemes and the parody of justice that occasionally occurs down at Robson and Smythe.
Bravo, Robin. Exceptionally good article.

Thanks,too, BC Mary for providing this great forum and for all your hard work here.

I agree, kootcoot,it is great to read about the principled Paul Nettleton here. In regards to the the raids and the mention of BC Rail this is a very revealing snippet from a Dec. 31, 2003, TC article....just days after the raid.

In it Nettleton alludes to conversations he had with some members inside caucus weeks prior to the raid on the legislature and that those conversations led him to believe and suggest this was "the beginning of the end for Campbell". It appears (even as an independent MLA) he knew something was up along with some of the caucus even "before" the raid had taken place because he uses the phrase "some of the conversations I've had in recent weeks with members of the caucus" even though the raid just happened days before this article was written - and even though we have been led to believe only Plant and Coleman knew anything before the raid, not even the premier.


"Independent MLA Paul Nettleton, a lawyer who was tossed out of the Liberal caucus a year ago for taking a stand over B.C. Hydro, said he believes in the presumption of innocence and in due process.

"However, I guess what makes this case somewhat more interesting and what distinguishes it from a ordinary criminal proceeding and investigation is the fact that it has to be looked at within the context in conducting the business of the province,'' he said. "The dynamics are different.

"Certainly some of the conversations I've had in recent weeks with members inside caucus suggest to me that, in fact, this is the beginning of the end of the Campbell administration,'' Nettleton said.

"And I believe we will see it unravel over the course of the next few weeks and months.''
I always like to read Robin's writings, explanations, and interpretations, and I'm often commentless afterwards, seemingly because their thoroughness (compared to my feelings of confusion and ignorance) seem to require no further comment.

One question has been coming to me lately though (not necessarily in relation to Robin's writings). Have the people from Omnitrax, CP, and Ferroequus had much to say about the whole BC Rail/Legislature Raids/Basi Virk Trial as time has gone on? If so, what? And if not, why not? You would think that some of them must have an ongoing interest in the whole ugly affair. After having been treated so unfairly themselves? I ask this from a position of ignorance in matters related to the operation of rail companies etc.
If it was me or you doing the things politicians are doing now in this country and in particular this province we would find ourselves behind bars. It is becoming more apparent that if you want to avoid jail time for your crimes just become a politician,an attorney general a premier a minister of the crown Then learn the art of privilege, to hide behind the courts and thumb your nose at the truth.
it is time to revoke this privilege.

Thanks for all the work you are doing Robin
Congratulations a very interesting article.
But you need to explain why the RCMP who conducted the raid are now helping to de-rail the trial. Who in the RCMP has relatives/friends in the campbell forces? Why is Collins not being investigated?
Hello Mary,

Off topic but are the BC Liberals conducting polls, with an election less than two months away, on the taxpayers dime?

I can understand my receiving a phone call from WorkSafeBC about their services, after all, I was injured less than two weeks ago in a no-time loss incident. The person basically did an over the telephone interview, once they proved to me who they were.... no problem.

However, just now I received a phone call from an "ICBC" person, and it took some doing to tell them that ICBC offices were closed on a Sunday, Saturday too for that matter. I told the person, who was speaking with an off-continent accent that it sounded like there were many people speaking in the background, to which he replied that there was no one with him.

Hmmmmmmm but he did admit that he wasn't from ICBC at all, but was speaking on their behalf.

Now, from where I come from, his "interview", let'c call it a "poll", is way out of line. He implied that he WAS ICBC, then, when challenged he changed his story. False and misleading, you betcha. He never did give the name of company that he worked for, so I hung up.

Is there anyone out there receiving phone calls having to do with Crown Corporations?
@Mary: Unfortunately, the media is doing everything it can to make anything else the issue. Keith Baldry on BCTV was telling the hundreds of thousands of viewers that the only thing worth voting for is the economy and there's Mikey Smyth raising the spectre of the big bad unions again today in the Province.
Thank you, Robin, for writing; and Mary, for posting: What a clear and thoughtful read! For about a month, now, I have been deliberating trying to put together something of this sort. This is a beautiful article/opinion piece - much better than what I would have created. Now, is there any way we can place this in the emails of all the candidates running against the party in power; and can copies also be sent to all of our columnist-type "friends" in the MSM?

Hello Mary,

Are the BC Liberals conducting polls, with an election less than two months away, on the taxpayers dime?

I can understand my having received a phone call from WorkSafeBC about their service, after all, I was injured less than two weeks ago with a no-time loss incident. The person basically did an over the telephone interview.... no problem once I verified the inquistioner credentials.

However, just now, I received a phone call from an "ICBC" person, at least that's what he said he was with, but it took me some doing to tell them that ICBC offices were closed on a Sunday, Saturday too for that matter. I told the guy, who was speaking with an "off-continent" accent, that it sounded like there were many people speaking in the background, to which he replied that there was no one but himself. He finally came around to admit that he wasn't with ICBC per se, but was speaking on their behalf. Now, from where I come from, his "interview", his "poll" is a way out of line. First he implies that he WAS ICBC, then, when he's challenged he changes his story.

False and misleading, you bet.

He never did give me the name of the company that he worked for, whereas the WorkSafeBC operative did, and more that once.

I hung up on the "ICBC" character, but it irks me that he called, and I'm on the National NO Call list as well.
Rather demand a Public Inquiry into the sale of BC Rail, why can't there be a class action court suit brought against the government for selling Crown Resources illegitimately! Can the lying Premier be sued?
You mean opposite to the truth like this that has been preserved on Division 105 Locomotive Engineers - Past Notable News website:

"The B.C. Federation of Labour said it learned BC Rail will post a record $95 million profit for 2003, 50 per cent more than the $61 million forecasted by the B.C. Liberals.
"Communities know they are losing a valuable service for their regions, and they know that there's no reason for BC Rail to be sold, it's making money," said BC Fed president Jim Sinclair."

The whole website is worth a reading, especially the last part titled BC Rail Business News - Update where the CEO of BC Rail, one Bob Phillips, states:

".....BC Rail has been part of two separate strategic processes in the past

* we have been part of the Province's Core Services Review
* we have been refocusing our strategies and efforts to restore the core business of the Railway to financial health.

The first process has been driven by our Shareholder, the Province of British Columbia. We have been in front of the Core Services Review Panel and I have tried to keep you informed as well as I can of decisions made by the Panel and by our Shareholder. As I have mentioned before, issues surrounding Rail's ownership are issues for our Shareholder........"

You can insert the $300,000 that was paid to Patrick Kinsella's two companies as a starting point, right here!

"..........I know these are difficult times for everyone and we truly don't know the outcome of the Shareholder's (Executive Council (BC Liberal Cabinet)) decision on the Railway. As I mentioned last week I am committed to keeping you informed on developments the best I can.

Bob Phillips
President and CEO"
Very special thanks to everyone for the excellent comments you've made this weekend.

I'm sorry I haven't been keeping up ... which means your thoughts and findings are all the more important. I want you to know how much I appreciate having your input.

I copied most of your comments on his latest column and e.mailed them to Robin Mathews, because I was pretty sure he'd be pleased. And he was.

So we soldier on, heads high, hoping for the best. Nice that it's springtime. I've had two more brief but intense episodes of Atrial Fibrillation since being in hospital. Something quite new.

On Wednesday March 25, I finally get to see the Cardiologist who I hope will discover what's going on. Nope, we sure can't give up now!

Yikes Mary! Take care of yourself and keep us posted. You've done so much groundwork that you can forget all about this ugly subject and focus on getting yourself better. Others can take up the torch if necessary. Your health is the most important thing right now (even though of course we all need you very much).
Thanks, 12:18 ... I'm being careful, and being here is good for my health, I think. Which is not to say that helpful contributions aren't needed -- they are. It's good to feel that we're in this serious business together.

CN should be investigated.CN may have paid off a few people. They have lots of cash. Sell your CN shares now.
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