Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Basi Virk: gifts to politicians secret?
Campbell government's refusal to co-operate with the Basi Virk Defence is becoming less and less credible; but this latest refusal tops everything. Even in a democratic society, all "gifts" to politicians mean something ... often the gift means something like a quid pro quo ... a deposit on some future event. To avoid any suspicions, all gifts should be declared freely and regularly, as a matter of accountability. Otherwise, who knows what kind of bribery might be going on? Let's hope that the Associate Chief Justice has something to say tomorrow in BC Supreme Court about this kind of sleazy argument. - BC Mary.
Records on gifts to politicians may be viewed, says Basi-Virk trial judge
BY KEITH FRASER
THE PROVINCE - JUNE 2, 2009
The judge hearing the Basi-Virk corruption case has ruled that records related to gifts received by politicians are not protected by parliamentary privilege.
Lawyers for accused David Basi and Bobby Virk, who allegedly received a benefit from a bidder during the controversial $2-billion* sale of B.C. Rail, are seeking to prove that politicians routinely receive gifts and that their clients did nothing criminal.
They applied for disclosure of so-called third-party records held by B.C.'s conflict-of-interest commissioner.
A lawyer for the commissioner argued that all of the records held by the commissioner are governed by parliamentary privilege and that the privilege is absolute.
But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett found that, in an unusual case, where the innocence of a criminal accused may be at stake, access to those records might be possible. The next step in the process will be to hear further arguments on whether to disclose specific records.
*error: should be $1 billion.
I didn't have a nap today, but somehow I managed to miss the price tag on the BC Rail deal to CN Rail having been bumped up by double its original size to a whopping $2 billion! Its not a typo on BC Mary's part, she's copied it verbatim from Kieth Fraser's story in the Vancouver Province.
Could it be that the court costs, including lawyers, provincial staff et al is ONE BILLION DOLLARS.
Or.... the $2 billion is from another fudget budget, this time written by the BC Liberals?
I remember when the import of this scandal started to break; various pundits commented that it had the potential to expose the whole system by which our so-called parliamentary democracy works - lobbyists, favouritism and nepotism to party donors, kickbacks, pork barreling not just to given constituencies but to particular companies/citizens in those constituencies. Comparisons to the Sponsorship Scandal, Shawinigate and Airbus were made. These pundits spoke, as can be expected of the mainstream media elites, as though opening up this can of worms was a bad thing "because it would call into question the legitimacy of our whole system", as I remember one of them saying. To them, this was a bad thing and the subtext was not just that they expected it to get covered over or distracted from, but that they hoped it would. Not surprising given their employers close links with the very politicians in question, and their own habit of fluffing up government ad contracts by writing either flattering and/or truth-concealing articles. This helps explain, indeed, why there's been a national "blanket of silence" on the BC Rail scam et al. until Mark Hume and others have begun to break the story east of the Rockies of late.... a lot of jobs would be on the line, including all of those political pundits who sit around panel tables on TV to decide for us what Canadians are thinking and care about etc....
Apparently 100k-plus salaries aren't enough to keep politicians and their hirelings happy; cash gifts and sundry are an expected perk of any office now - that's the argument that's being made by this claim that because gifts happen all the time, that makes them OK. I think a useful term or perspective on this might be to call it "soft extortion" - an implicit understanding in corporate circles that if you DON'T ply a politician with gifts - including covert cash benefits as well as fancy dinners and weekends at resorts and who knows what else...or even just "favours" like helping someone's kid get a particular job, or get into a particular school - then you're not going to get anywhere.
That this posture is also being affected by political hirelings - who despite being political hirelings are still technically civil servants - stinks all the more.
Pirates have more honour. And at least a pirate is up-front about their piracy, instead of seeking to legitimize it by calling it "politics as usual".
Another extremely irritating habit of the talking head, pundit class is to suggest that critics of the criminal activity routinely engaged in by neo-con/neo-liberal governments in particular are trying to "criminalize politics."
There is an incorrect implicit assumption that if a politician does it it isn't a crime - sort of like the famous Nixon line - "If the President does it, it can't be illegal."
I've maintained for at least six years now that the biggest, most corrosive and most successful criminal organization in British Columbia is the government of Gordon Campbell and his fellow BC liaRs and assorted corporate partners in crime.
The UN Gang, Circle Boys, Hell's Angels and others can only dream of such success, riches and social acceptance (complete with golden "Get Out of Jail Free" cards).