Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Robin Mathews: 8,000 pages
On Looking Into the Binders Released through FOI to Defence in the Basi, Virk, and Basi Matter: the BC Rail Scandal.
There is so much to be suspicious of with the Gordon Campbell government - where do we start?
Prosecutors (in the Wally Oppal, Attorney General, line of command?) ruled out criminal charges against the police officers involved in Robert Dziekanski's death- probably flying in the face of what 90% of observing British Columbians believe should have happened.
(Isn't the film being played over and over at the Braidwood Inquiry what the law calls prima facie evidence - evidence that convinces you "on its face" that charges should be laid?)
And the Polish embassy suggests "B.C.'s Ministry of the Attorney General has not been cooperating in providing information of interest to Poland." (Globe and Mail March 2 09 A5) Surprise.
As Gary Mason quietly says, in addition, (Globe) March 3, "it is clear that if it were not for [the] video, the version of events supplied by the officers wouldn't come close to what actually happened". Is Mason suggesting the video catches them out in in a rehearsed fabrication of events? And if that could be true, what would Gary Bass, top RCMP officer in B.C., have to do with it? What would Wally Oppal have to do with it? Gordon Campbell?
Public Inquiries under the Gordon Campbell government are usually forms of whitewash. Will that be the case with Braidwood? Stay tuned. Stay suspicious.
It is so bad - the odour of the Campbell government - that suspicion about the relation between the RCMP and the Campbellites leaks into everything. It flows into the BC Rail Scandal, and the extraordinary separation between the three men accused - all cabinet employees - and the people for whom they were working. Before the (search warrant) raids on legislature offices and other homes and offices in Vancouver and Victoria were scarcely over, RCMP announced - displaying brilliant foresight and even prophecy - that no elected person was (or would be) investigated.
Then, later, Dave Basi was accused (four fraud-related charges) of taking $50,000 from developers to help a 700 home project near Victoria proceed even though much of the land was protected from development by the Agricultural Land Commission. Gordon Campbell is quoted as saying that no current provincial staff, political staff, elected officials, nobody at the Agricultural Land Commission has been involved in this.
The accused - not a member of the Agricultural Land Commission - must, allegedly, single-handedly removed the protection from development of the land, it would seem. A wonderful feat. Single-handed.
What has all that to do with a visit to the binders released to the Defence under Freedom of Information and containing matter deemed relevant to the charges against Basi, Virk, and Basi?
Whispers in corridors say of those documents: "there is no smoking gun". Surprise, again. "Whispers in corridors ask: "Are all the relevant documents really there?"
Maybe there is a smoking gun, but maybe it's more like a vapour trail. To begin, around the time of the so-called "bidding" for BC Rail, documents were produced aplenty - documents that declared the bidding process was fake, in effect. Documents that came as close to expressing anger as possible.
I think many ordinary Canadians would say the allegations of soiled competition were so strong the whole bidding process should have been stopped. But it wasn't. And it is at that point the vapour trail may become clear.
There appears to have been a determination on the part of Gordon Campbell to "sell" BC Rail come hell or high water - and to sell it to CNR.
Forgotten by many people is the fact that Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) was an early involved company to raise alarm flags. It wasn't bidding, but it was supporting and consulting for OmniTRAX - which was in the bidding. Interestingly, when BNSF withdrew, giving reasons, OmniTRAX did not. Later, it was involved in allegations about the proposed sale of the Roberts Bank spur line, a sale that was cancelled because of suspicions of contamination in the process.
In an exchange of letters (beginning on November 17, 2003) by J. Rickerhauser of BNSF and Allan Wallace, Managing Director of CIBC World Markets (for the Gordon Campbell cabinet), BNSF claimed there were "serious questions of ethics and fairness" in the bidding. It said it was "extremely dismayed with the handling of the BC Rail Transaction". It complained of "the apparent favouritism of certain bidders", and wrote of a "breach", And it said that the chosen proponent (CN) was given confidential interline rate and interline business information involving BNSF customer and business flows.
When a Fairness Report was produced by Charles River Associates, BNSF was not impressed, thought the report was very flawed, drawing into question the veracity and objectivity of that report. BNSF wrote of "blatant favouritism" (given to CN).
At nearly the same time, CPR withdrew, too, on much the same grounds. The involved people complaining asserted that word was out of special treatment for CN, widely spoken of. On November 17, 2003, Marcilla Szel ,CPR vice president of Strategy and Law, wrote to Ken Dobell, deputy minister to the premier and cabinet secretary. Ms. Szel wrote of "a clear breach of general process fairness and a violation of the intent of the specific process established and communicated by the Evaluation Committee." CPR was recorded as publicly declaring the bidding tainted when it withdrew.
Gordon Campbell drove on with the privatization - which would eventuate, after the "raids" on B.C. legislature offices (just a month later), in charges of fraud and breach of trust involving cabinet aides, the BC Rail Scandal, and apparent bribery to do with bidding and potential sales involved in the BC Rail dealing.
At the time of the BC Rail Scandal the Canadian Poster Boy for Privatization was Paul Tellier, CEO of CNR. It was a time when the corporate wonder-boys were merging and leveraging and privatizing and generally preparing for the Crash we are presently in. Tellier was Brian Mulroney's Clerk of Privy Council, present during the Free Trade deal. He became CEO of CNR in 1992 and in 1995 extracted it from Canadian ownership, privatized it, sold shares and delivered it to a majority of U.S. shareholders and to a real headquarters in Texas.
To Tellier, that was a grand victory, making it a truly North American corporation. For his successful sell-out of a publicly held asset, he was named "most respected CEO in Canada" more than once. The corporate class was celebrating the sell-out of the Canadian people. In 2004 his fame was so great that an underwater tunnel, fittingly between Canada and the U.S., (and fittingly underwater) was named for him - the Paul M. Tellier Tunnel. In 2001 he gave a speech to the Empire Club calling for greater integration of Canada and the U.S. and hinting that the time was not far off when the two countries would share one currency.
Clearly, Tellier spoke Gordon Campbell's language. Campbell, remember, first campaigned on a platform that had the privatization and sale of BC Rail in it. He lost that election, and not only dropped the plank but changed it to no sale of BC Rail. He was elected premier for the first time in 2001, and went to work very soon to betray the people he had given the promise to and to privatize (into foreign hands) BC Rail.
He tried to do the same with BC Ferries, and failed (even with a specially hired U.S. citizen CEO). He did it (in fact) with two thirds of BC Hydro, splitting the Crown Corporation into three parts - one going to Accenture (connected with the Enron disaster),and another part being set up as a dummy, wholly-owned Canadian power distribution system (which will be wholly controlled from the U.S.). The third part is what British Columbians think of as BC Hydro. It has been castrated and is forbidden to generate a single watt of new electric power, but must buy all increases of power now from private sources (soon, often, to be in U.S, hands) - private generators of power to whom the Campbell government is selling all rights to BC rivers.
As fate would have it, Paul Tellier arrived in Vancouver in June of 2002 to deliver a speech to the Canadian Club. In it he told the grand romance of the sell-out of publicly-owned CNR and its huge success as a private corporation with a majority of U.S. shareholders. True to the pre-Crash prophets of the time, he also pushed for more deregulation. Then he talked about BC Rail and observed that it, too, could do what CN had done. It, too, could get free of the chains of public ownership.
I suppose the question is just who suggested Paul Tellier as speaker at the Canadian Club? Did he meet Gordon Campbell when he was here? Did anyone here suggest that Tellier connect the privatization of CNR with BC Rail as he did in his speech?
Apparently, Paul Tellier was back in Vancouver in August 2002 at which time he met with Dan Doyle, Deputy Minister of Transportation. Did they talk about the takeover by CNR of BC Rail? Did Tellier talk to Gordon Campbell? Alas, the documents gathered through Freedom of Information don't answer those questions.
Paul Tellier, the corporate miracle-worker, next went as CEO of Bombardier in 2003. He was hired to work his faultless magic there. He cut 16,000 people from the Bombardier work force, sold off the famous Bombardier Ski-doo branch, and watched shares drop by 50%. The Bombardier family became so disenchanted they dumped (graciously) wonder-boy Tellier and set to work to rebuild (successfully) the Bombardier operations he was destroying.
The vapour trail that leads to the corrupt sale of BC Rail begins in the 1990s when Gordon Campbell had the sale in his platform. It left the Campbell platform but not Campbell's intentions. By merest accident the poster boy for privatized sell-out - CNR's Paul Tellier - came to Vancouver in April 2002 just on the cusp of BC Rail sale beginnings and in a speech put sold-out CNR and BC Rail together for comparison. And then he seems to have dropped back in August for talks with, at least, the deputy minister of transportation. What a coincidence. And what a coincidence that come hell or high water Gordon Campbell drove through the sale of BC Rail to CNR - bidding protocols and fairness to other bidders shattered in the process.
It is hard to find a smoking gun at the bottom of a swamp. If there had been a Public Inquiry into the plainly improper sale of BC Rail in 2004, smoking guns would have appeared in more than one place. But the Campbell forces set to work to hose down everything to do with the matter. The hoses are still playing on the BC Rail Scandal, and the bedraggled actors in the Basi, Virk, and Basi drama are barely keeping their heads above water, are growing older and older, and are clinging to an idea of justice that is waterlogged and sinking into the bog before their eyes.
It is heartbreaking/gut wrenching & shameful about the tasered death of Robert Dziekanski; an innocent man caught up in the ignorance/inadequacies of the persons he unfortunately crossed paths with at the Vancouver Airport. I am so proud of the Polish Embassy.
It's all about whose linked to whom. "Odour" always leads to the source of the rot.
Accolades are due, Robin. Your insight/diligence to detail and ability to connect the dots, always paints the big picture of the hidden innards of the games being played by the systems against the best interests of the citizens of British Columbia.
Thank you, Robin for not only the hours you have spent down at the courthouse seeing/hearing the manoeuvrings of the 'club' personally but to the extensive articles you post here in brilliant detail on BCMary's site, who of course, also deserves high praise.
The more detail the more truth surfaces - all of which the public is owed. All of it is connected - all of it matters. You and BC Mary 'get it'.
The name of the game is to either fire or retire key players involved in these scandals. It is always the pattern. Are Minister Collins, Reid, or Clark still in Govt? Is Dobell still in the Premier's Office? etc. etc.
If there is an ethical individuals that want to pursue the truth/the evidence they soon get targeted: e.g. Battershill?
Where is the lead RCMP Officer who worked with the Victoria Chief, Insp. DeBruyckere now - pretrial evidence showed he wanted to pursue Min. Collins in Hawaii but was stopped with passport in hand, after the Sol. General's Asst Dep, Gary Begg suggested to then Asst. Dep. Comm Gary Bass (surprise) to drop pursuing the politicians involved in the Raid on the Leg?
How many other investigations have been "handled" this way?
How many times has political interference/'taint' operating in cozy corners between the BC Govt and the RCMP at the top, 'deep sixed' political bombshells?
How many Special Prosecutors are politically plucked from their well connected law firms to the AG's Office to advise the RCMP on criminal matters?
These hide/seek/suppress tactic do NOT protect key people from further litigation, including politicians/bureaucrats involved in misconduct when evidence surfaces out of litigation documents or through brown envelopes etc.
Speaking of detail: It is interesting to find out that the RCMP use former Global Reporter Eli Sopow as their key media spin Doc.
An 'Insider' shared that Mr. Sopow has been highly political in his days around the BC Leg. He landed a key position in the Premier's Office during the Zalm's reign of terror, through 'leveraging' perhaps? Being a reporter he had access to all kinds of information re: scandals.
Further, his connections would date back to that political era. Many of the same political players in the midst of a variety of big political scandals rearing their heads now.
And this guy is advising Dep. Comm Gary Bass on highly charged political files re: the media?
Just another link in the chain.
"It is hard to find a smoking gun at the bottom of a swamp....
True enough (and a great line, by the way).
You can still find fingerprints and/or DNA on guns long ago fired.
It seems unlikely that it was difficult to convince Insp. DeBruyckere to not chase down Collins and gang in Hawaii. Let's face it, the Inspector himself was/is related by marriage to the boss of the BC liaR party. The entire government and justice system of BC is an incestous old boys' club of mutual back scratchers equipped with bags of money and a total lack of ethics.
There are actual bannana republics with more accountable governments than the current regime in the "Best Place on Earth" to be a friend of the bossman.
One doesn't need to be a loyal NDP supporter to prefer non-criminal types being the government in Victoria.
Hey there, Koot I'm with all of the above, givng Robin a big grateful "Cheers" for his sharing of thoughts in such an illuminating manner . . .
As for you, yes, some "non criminal types" directing OUR business would be pleasant.
How about that Leonard Krog! High fives - he's also got his ducks in a row, as a lawyer and MLA representing THE PEOPLE, within the official Opposition. Now there is Leadership material!
Please allow me to muse a little:
Party lines are not important any more, are they - lines,along with ethics have blurred for vested interest motives, right?
Afterall, BC Liberals are mostly hangers on from the Zalm's scandal laden Govt and/or conservatives . . . . with a few Libs for seasoning thrown into the mix - more like a Clique of Convenience; and some of them doing BIG business with so called NDPers. Bedfellows indeed but a 'private club', nonetheless.
Amongst my group of friends/associates they ARE fed up about dirty deals behind political/judicial/RCMP/Special Prosecutorial closed doors, period, like you, BC Mary, Robin and most probably the vast majority of the population.
No doubt the Raid on the Leg grabbed people's attention & this IS a good thing. However, many people are aware this scenario has played out many times before, with some of the same players involved so as Robin says, all of the scandalous information is relevant in the bigger picture. So we must all dig deep cause you are right on the money: "The entire government and justice system of BC is an incestous old boys' club of mutual back scratchers equipped with bags of money and a total lack of ethics."
BTW, queasy perceptions aside, none of us are responsible for our in-laws, cousins etc. right?
Personally I'm willing to cut a little slack for DeBruyckere, at this point, unless I have reason to change my mind. We don't know the temperature of the relationship, between these two guys.
I'd put the spotlight more on his boss, DComm Bass cozy with the Sol Gen Office of course in with the Prem. Also remember the Premier is protected by RCMP 24/7.
But where is Insp. Debruyckere these days? Just might be interesting to know.
This is the same Macquarie that created the Millionaire Factory Club and in the last three weeks lost $1.3 billion, the same monies that they needed to get them into the Port Mann Bridge deal with the BC Liberals.
Why then, is the public prosecution office, representing the RCMP???
I've always had difficulty sorting that out, too.
To me, they are separate entities -- the RCMP and the Prosecution -- each representing us (the people of BC). But somehow or other, co-operating. Hmmm.
Maybe I'm not sure what you mean by "the public prosecution office representing the RCMP" ... in the Basi Virk Case? in the Braidwood Inquiry, maybe?
Pls explain more. Thanks.