Thursday, June 25, 2009
Basi-Virk. BC Rail leak from cabinet questioned
VANCOUVER – The office of Premier Gordon Campbell controlled the controversial sale of BC Rail with an "iron hand," a lawyer alleged Thursday at the political corruption trial involving former government aides.
Kevin McCullough, the lawyer for Bob Virk, one of two senior former political aides accused fraud, breach of trust and accepting benefits in exchange for confidential information about the bidding for BC Rail, read out a series of e-mails leading up to the sale of the railway.
The lawyer pointed out that the premier's office sent an e-mail to Kevin Mahoney, a vice-president of BC Rail, suggesting who should be invited to the northern transportation conference in November 2002
"This is the set-up breaking the election promise," McCullough said, referring to the fact that the premier had won the election on a campaign promise not to sell BC Rail.
"The premier's office was engaged in substantial control of the BC Rail deal and the BC Rail agenda," the lawyer told Justice Elizabeth Bennett.
The lawyer was trying to show that the defence has some e-mails from BC Rail showing the involvement of the premier's office but is seeking further disclosure of e-mails from the premier, his chief of staff at the time, Martyn Brown, and other cabinet ministers.
The defence first has to convince the judge of the likely relevance of the e-mails before the judge will make a disclosure order.
But earlier this week, government lawyer George Copley revealed the e-mails being sought may have already disappeared.
Copley presented two affidavits to the court, including one from Rosemarie Hayes, manager of the government's e-mail system, who said e-mails cannot be retrieved after 13 months.
The defence applied in June 2007 to get Campbell's e-mails, as well as those of cabinet ministers related to the privatization sale of BC Rail, which was sold to CN Rail for $1 billion in 2003.
The missing e-mails pertain to 15 or 20 people who are on the Crown witness list.
On Thursday, Copley provided some further clarification, saying if the e-mails weren't printed off and put in files, they do not become part of the operational records of government.
Transitory material, which he described as "routine records of no value," are discarded or purged from the computer system, he said.
Copley said questionnaires have been sent to nine people who have searched the files and, once their answers are returned, "we will file nine separate affidavits" to try to answer some of the questions posed by the defence lawyers.
"There may be no explanation," the lawyer said. "No filing system is perfect."
Defence lawyers were shocked to learn that e-mails that could be crucial to the defence case may have been allowed to disappear.
Michael Bolton, the lawyer for Dave Basi, told the judge Thursday that administrative and operational records of government ministers, deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers are supposed to be retained for 10 years.
He said the unprecedented police search of the legislature on Dec. 28, 2003, should have alerted the government and its staff to retain the records from that period.
At the time of the police raid, Dave Basi was a senior aide to then finance minister Gary Collins and Virk was a senior aide to then transportation minister Judith Reid.
Aneal Basi, who worked in government communications, is accused of money laundering.
The case has been adjourned until next Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, McCullough said the RCMP investigation found that government lobbyists were getting inside cabinet information about the pending BC Rail sale in 2003 but police never fully investigated the source of the leak.
"The Crown's theory in this case was that [Bob] Virk and [Dave] Basi were disclosing confidential documents for benefits," the lawyer told the judge.
"There were other sources of information," he said, reading out a series of emails involving Erik Bornmann, Brian Kieran and Jamie Elmhirst, who were partners in Pilothouse, a lobbying firm that in 2003 was representing OmniTrax, a Denver-based company that was bidding on BC Rail.
The e-mails quoted what was being discussed in cabinet meetings.
When Kieran was interviewed by the RCMP, he said Virk was the source of the insider cabinet information because transportation minister would "debrief" Virk after cabinet meetings, McCullough said.
And when police interviewed Bornmann, he said Basi was probably the source, the lawyer pointed out.
McCullough told Justice Elizabeth Bennett that police bluntly asked Bornmann if he had a source in cabinet and he replied no. But Bornmann mentioned that he had conversations with then deputy premier Christy Clark because Bornmann was a friend of Clark's husband, Mark Marissen, he added.
At the time, Bornmann and Marissen were deeply involved in the federal Liberal party – Marissen was B.C. campaign chair for Paul Martin's successful bid for the federal leadership and served as B.C. campaign co-chair for the 2004 and 2006 federal elections.
Clark quit provincial politics in 2004 and now hosts a radio show on CKNW.
McCullough said when RCMP interviewed the transportation minister, Reid, and the finance minister, Collins, in 2004, both adamantly denied they discussed confidential cabinet information with Basi and Virk.
"The RCMP goes to Collins, who denies telling information to Basi and Virk," the lawyer said.
"They never go back to Bornmann," McCullough said, adding the Mounties tailored their investigation to target Basi and Virk.
Neal Hall's full report is HERE.
He is always ready to appear in court, anytime, any day.
I havent heard of ANY employment for this fellow, so what is he doing and how does he pay the regular bills?
Has any of this dawned on anyone?
But truth be told, although the three were fired by the BC Liberals (they were not public employees, but hired political hands) its the government (taxpayers) that has to pay the bills until their judgement day.
If found guilty, they have to pay all of the associated costs, if innocent then the taxpayers are out of pocket for both sides of the scales of justice.
But if found guilty its hard to squeeze monies out of a bankrupted client.
Some of the comments were making me uncomfortable, too, so with your suggestion, I have removed a few ... and have left a few in place to give the gist of the discussion.
Of course, we can't help but wonder ... and then speculate ... and then comment. There's nothing wrong with that.
But when speculation turns into accusations, it's not good. Nor do I like the haughty accusatory question "Has any of this dawned on anyone?" ...
Times like this, I regret that nobody loved me enough to give me my most-requested birthday gift this year: a long gun which fires a boxing glove instead of a shell. For times when words simply fail. b*l*a*m!! [You re-load simply by shoving the spring-loaded boxing glove back down the rifle barrel. Simple.]
So yes, Mr Flat-Nose 10:07, you'd have got it right spang! on the nose because, like 99% of the folks here, it did cross my mind. But I said what Gary E said. It's none of my damn business.
But if I can CORRECT AN INJUSTICE such as will be automatically triggered on July 14, 2009, that's where I'd rather invest my efforts. We must try to stop the added benefits from sliding out of BCR ownership and into CN's private pockets.
I hope you'll help.
Next we'll find that public schools are out and private schooling is in. The Education Minister already has signs being painted that say "Have Schools, will Travel"
So, how about going to the other side? Perhaps we can appeal to CN? Or CN's largest single shareholder - Bill Gates?
I would imagine he'd prefer to be seen investing in an honest, and forthright business agreement. After all, it is to his benefit more than most that this deal go through unhindered...and he is a brilliantly successful businessman who knows the real value of good public relations.
Remember the close scrutiny that the NDP government faced? Remember how justice system officials tried to railroad Glen Clark, by refusing to consider the barter defence that led a jury to find him innocent?
I cannot wait until Canwest is bankrupt and business people with integrity pick up the pieces of that blob of amorality.
Not such a bad idea, Leah ... in fact, every message we send out, is helping. So I say, GO for it.
I've wondered about CN, too.
This is killing me! Who? What? Where? When? ... I can't open the link you provided ... sure hope you're able to send more info.
MANY THANKS ... !
Citation: Lougheed Estate v. Wilson,
2009 BCSC 849
William F. Lougheed, in his capacity as Executor of the Estate of Norma Yvonne Lougheed, deceased, and William F. Lougheed, in his personal capacity and Norbill Investments Ltd., Plaintiffs
Kelly Janine Wilson and Charles Blair Wilson, Defendants
Judeline Tyabji Wilson, Tugboat Enterprises Ltd.,
Mark Allan Marissen, Elaine O’Connor, Canwest Publishing Inc.
Publications Canwest Inc., and Steve Janke, Defendants by Counterclaim
Before: The Honourable Mr. Justice Grauer
Another instance where, as said in the intro re Steve Janke's complaint to Elections Canada, charges were not laid against a BC Liberal in clear violation of a a statute.
Hmmmmmm. You're right BC Mary that link is a dead end but on the same web page there's this link involving CNR and a Search Warrant issued pursuant to a breach of the Criminal Code
Oh, look on page 16 "R.V Basi 2009 BCSC 775"
And there is a 754 as well....
755 756 757 772
Seven Seven Two is the gold mine that includes Jas Bains relating to charges laid on September 14, 2004
Then there is the Mackenzie Mill fiasco, bankrolled by the BC Liberals to stop the Chlorine from exploding .....Pope and Talbot http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/09/00/2009BCSC0017.htm
2009 Vancouver Supreme court sitting days avalability: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/supreme_court/scheduling/2009%20Court%20Calendar.doc
Hmmm. Thanks, Skookum. We're getting a bit off-topic here, but it's a good reminder of how CanWest shapes the news.
My personal favourite test of CanWest integrity is the press silence shielding the trial of ...
no less a figure than the man who police were tracking in an investigation which led to the raid on the B.C. legislature.
June 2008, Jasmohan Singh Bains went to trial just a few blocks from the Times Colonist newspaper office. July 2008 he was found guilty. Sept. 2008 he was sentenced to 9 years + heavy fine.
6 months passed without a mention (and I had been watching for the news, too). Then one astute observer in the Public Gallery during a Basi Virk pre-trial hearing, overheard the lawyers mention this event. Luckily, our observer decided to tell me because he couldn't see any other journalists in the courtroom.
Frankly, I couldn't believe that news like this could've been kept quiet ... kept out of circulation ... so I did the due diligence ... checked it out ... and, by gosh, it was true!
imagine ... 6 months had passed without a word being published. I broke the story [look it up: use the search box at the top of this page and type in "Jasmohan Singh Bains sentenced to 9 years"]
I set up the headline so that Google couldn't miss it. But ... nothing happened. Two more months passed without mention. That was my "coming of age" ... never again would BC Mary imagine that "the truth will out" unless citizens keep pressing hard for the truth to be told.
Then one day I happened to mention the Bains trial when talking to Ian Mulgrew. Next thing I knew, Ian's story appeared under the Vasncouver Sun headline: "Drug dealer linked to legislature raid imprisoned". That was Feb. 17, 2009.
And [get this], the CanWest newsroom editors -- in preparing their headline -- put the blame on the RCMP ... "RCMP oddly silent about key victory against cocaine ring" says the sub-title.
RCMP is "oddly silent" ... oh cue the hysterical laughter!
I understand that Bains is appealing his verdict, and since this really does have a connection to the trial of his cousin, Dave Basi, no doubt CanWest is at wit's end wondering how best to rush the news to us. Ha ha.
Thanks, all, for helping us figure stuff out. It ain't always easy being from B.C.
YOU are the gold-mine here today ... many thanks for the treasures you've dug up.
I've just finished reading Judge Wilson's "Reasons for Judgment" in allowing so much of the evidence ... where CN seems to have caught the "Privilege" disease and was fighting against disclosing evidence of the two-train collision in Prince George, August 2007.
Took me back 2 years, to the weekend I watched on YouTube the astonishing disparity between what CN was saying and what the videos showed.
Highly recommended reading. Haven't finished looking up all your links ... just wanted to say THANKS.
This is it:
and the topic contains this:
".....3] As a result of the drug investigations, the following charges were laid on September 14, 2004:
· Jas Bains, Brahm Mikol, Blythe Vernon, and John Scallon were charged jointly with conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance between September 19, 2003, and December 9, 2003, in Victoria, B.C.
· John Scallon and Michael Doyle were charged with conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance on December 3, 2003, in Vancouver.
· Tony Singh and Mandeep Sandhu were charged with conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance between September 30, 2003, and December 9, 2003, in Surrey, B.C.
· Dave Basi was charged with possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking between March 24, 2003, and December 28, 2003, and possession of a controlled substance on December 8, 2003, in Victoria, B.C........" SNIP
At "Case Name" type in R. v Basi
At "Case Name" type in R. v. Virk, Basi and Basi ----to discover why the BC Rail case needs to go to the Supreme Court of Canada
At "Case Name" type in BC Rail
The one I have been reading tonight goes a long way to explain why the disclosures have been coming to light in dribs and drabs....RCMP