Friday, April 03, 2009


Robin Mathews - April 3 in Courtroom 67

A very long morning ran from 9:30 unitl 1:00.

At a break Michael Bolton described the few more documents Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett released this morning. She released the first round of bidding documents for BC Rail, important Mr. Bolton said, in the defence of the accused as having jeopardized the bidding for BC Rail. He recalled that the four bidders were CN, CPR, OmniTrax, and Rail America.

Rail America raised its bid by ten million dollars after the first round of bidding, and then withdrew just before the second round, declining to explain why it dropped out.

Most of the morning was taken up with Kevin McCullough for the Defence calling for documents from the Attorney General's office, the Solicitor General's Office, and Finance - arguing that political manipulation, interference, and dirty tricks have been hallmarks of the Campbell governments methods, and the documents requested tie closely to information that will be used in the defence of the accused.

The Defence position, stated strongly, evoked the response from Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett that Defence could not claim that the "entire government approach has been political" to the case before her, and before that elsewhere. She pointed out that Mr. George Copley, counsel for the cabinet, has given Defence everything it asked for, for instance. Mr. Bolton accepted the correction.

Filled to be brim, the morning lapped and overlapped with the drawing of connections between actors for the legal processes and actors involved with political policy, suggesting - it was alleged - abuse of process. Gordon Campbell's name, as in charge of alleged micromanagement, was heard several times during the morning.

The Basi, Virk, and Basi process will pause until early May, it seems. A brief appearance on the ALR matter will occur on April 9.

Much needs to be said about the last days of hearing, and much will be said as the next days unfold.


A little extra info on RailAmerica

(From Financial Post)

Byline: Yuthana Praiwan

VANCOUVER - RailAmerica Inc. dropped out of the bidding for British Columbia Railway Co. because it figured two Canadian contenders had the inside track on future cost-savings, a RailAmerica spokesman said.

The British Columbia government is seeking private operators for BC Rail, Canada's third-largest railway, but wants to keep public ownership of the railway lands, track and railbed.

The government is weighing proposals from Canadian National Railway Co., Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., and a partnership between Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. of Fort Worth, Tex., and Denver-based OmniTRAX Inc.

RailAmerica, of Boca Raton, Fla., made it through the initial round of bidding for BC Rail but decided not to submit a formal proposal by the Sept. 15 deadline.

During the process, "we saw the synergies that Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways had with BC Rail and we believe they had a leg up on us ... because they connect with the BC Rail operations directly," said Wayne August, a RailAmerica spokesman.

BC Rail has physical interconnections with Canadian National at Prince George, B.C., near the northern end of its network and in North Vancouver at the southern end. It has interline agreements with other companies, including Canadian Pacific and Burlington Northern, but not interconnections, a BC Rail spokesman said.

Mr. August also said the two Canadian-based railways would be eligible for tax benefits that RailAmerica, as a U.S. entity, wouldn't be able to take advantage of.

Based on its initial diligence, BC Rail is a good operation and RailAmerica felt it could have done "great things with it" at the right price, Mr. August said.

RailAmerica would have kept a lot of the workforce in place "whereas I think CP and CN would do otherwise," Mr. August added.

Hunter Harrison, Canadian National chief executive, told Dow Jones recently that, if his company were to take over BC Rail operations, job losses are likely but the workforce could grow once the operations became more efficient.

Officials at Canadian Pacific couldn't be reached for comment.

BC Rail employed about 1,600 unionized and management staff at the end of 2002. The number of unionized workers fluctuates depending on seasons and work programs, according to a union Web site.

BC Rail's system includes 2,300 kilometres of track between North Vancouver and Fort Nelson. It mostly transports forest, agricultural and energy commodities. Some of its largest customers are forest-products companies.

CIBC World Markets is advising the B.C. government in the partial privatization.
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