Monday, May 31, 2010


May 31, 2010 in Courtroom 54 with the BC Rail Corruption Trial

Morning in Courtroom 54.  The BC Rail Scandal

By Robin Mathews
May 31, 2010

Everything this morning was under publication ban, for the reason that the jury was present for only a few seconds while Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie apologized for the fact that counsel and court had things they had to discuss without the jury and it could be excused until Wednesday morning.  All hope that at that time, matters will resume, though I don't think it's a break of the ban to say it could extend a little.

The matters before the court this morning were interesting.  I am one who believes bans must be used when the rights of the accused may be placed in jeopardy. Or when the jury might find themselves led into bias by the information exchanged or by the conduct of argument.

But I believe the exchanges and arguments today might have been heard without damage to the trial by all members of the jury - and perhaps with a greater respect for the complexity of the case about which they are going to have to make judgements.

I'm forced to wonder just what the role and range of publication bans ordinarily are, and if they are too severe.  The public would, I believe, benefit by information about today's procedures - information which is denied to them.

See also Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail.

House of Infamy
By kootcoot
With the BC Rail Corruption Trial on hiatus (its usual state for almost seven years) until at least tomorrow, when it will either pick up where it left off, with Martyn Brown facing cross-examination, or we will learn of another delay ...

The Gazetteer: The Church Of The Sacred Bleeding RailGate....
By RossK
Management believes it is unlikely that the province or the BC Rail Corporation will ultimately be held liable for any amounts under commercial and tax indemnities..." Now. It's important to remember just who that 'Management' was when ...
The Gazetteer -



CONFIRMED: BC Rail Corruption Trial is in Courtroom 54 today, May 31, beginning at 9:00 AM. Open to the public.

Anonymous comment, cross-posted:

These guys are listed all over the place - 

*Aneal Basi to appear Aug. 5 2010 in Victoria at 9 am for a Trial Confirmation Hearing due to an Impaired Driving charge.

*Dave Basi to appear in Vancouver on Sept. 13, 2010 for a Pre-trial Conference with James Duncan and Anthony Young.

Keep up the good work BC Mary!


Sunday, May 30, 2010


Basi Virk Trial begins again tomorrow, Monday morning, May 31 at 9:00 AM. Is there a White Tiger in our midst and we just haven't noticed?

An idle Sunday afternoon and I, with a tall cool glass of sparkling water (yes, water!), began watching a witty, clever man giving a book review on TVO. (TVO is available in BC on cable.) I watched, holding my breath, as an energetic little bald man described a book about the way of life in India. He didn't need to explain how much he liked the book, as it showed very clearly.

Thus was I drawn into a full hour of his scholarly revelations about what it means to be a citizen of the world's largest democracy; what it means to be born into a caste system which is alive even today; and what limited options are open to those with a mind to break free of the virtual enslavement. And before anybody begins to yell at me ... oh yes, I know you're out there ready to yell at me ... I'd just like to give credit to my parents who spent the first 5 years of their married life in India. My Dad, as an engineer, was there on a 5-year  contract and when his first term was ending, he and my Mother had the choice of renewing for another 5 years (i.e., making their permanent home in India) or returning to their British homeland.  They decided to become Canadians.

I mention this only because my parents never lost their affection for India or their concerns about India's future. I grew up hearing their memories of elephants who never forgot, of snakes the width of the road, of corruption that seems to accompany an oppressed state, and currie. Currie that could strip wallpaper off walls, was the dinner of choice for my parents and my older sister (born there) which I, Canadian-born, have never fully  mastered. So before anyone thinks of yelling at me for being anti-somthing, please remember, I was born with an affection for the great, mysterious nation of India. I know that it harbours greatness. And I also know that there are things about it which we can scarcely understand but we should try.

Why mention this? Well, because -- while watching the book review of The White Tiger today -- I realized that we pretend  there's no cultural significance to the plain fact that the three men who will be standing again tomorrow morning in BCSC accused in the BC Rail Case are Indo-Canadian. Why not consider the significance of the plain fact that the three men are related to one another: Dave and Aneal are cousins; Dave and Bobby are brothers-in-law. I'm not sure, but I believe that Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi is the oldest and culturally that's significant.

So I suggest this book as one way of informing ourselves of the dominant factors in the lives of Indian citizens, or of those not long removed from India: the book is The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I've just ordered my copy (after listening to the book review, which I believe can be found on the TVO Channel under the program "Big Ideas"). The book is described (somewhat less subtly) by Chapters Online as follows (and also HERE):

Introducing a major literary talent, "The White Tiger" offers a story of coruscating wit, blistering suspense, and questionable morality, told by the most volatile, captivating, and utterly inimitable narrator that this millennium has yet seen.

Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life -- having nothing but his own wits to help him along.

Born in the dark heart of India, Balram gets a break when he is hired as a driver for his village's wealthiest man, two house Pomeranians (Puddles and Cuddles), and the rich man's (very unlucky) son. From behind the wheel of their Honda City car, Balram's new world is a revelation. While his peers flip through the pages of "Murder Weekly" ("Love -- Rape -- Revenge!"), barter for girls, drink liquor (Thunderbolt), and perpetuate the Great Rooster Coop of Indian society, Balram watches his employers bribe foreign ministers for tax breaks, barter for girls, drink liquor (single-malt whiskey), and play their own role in the Rooster Coop. Balram learns how to siphon gas, deal with corrupt mechanics, and refill and resell Johnnie Walker Black Label bottles (all but one). He also finds a way out of the Coop that no one else inside it can perceive.

Balram's eyes penetrate India as few outsiders can: the cockroaches and the call centers; the prostitutes and the worshippers; the ancient and Internet cultures; the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger. And with a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create virtue, and money doesn't solve every problem -- but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations.

Sold in sixteen countries around the world, "The White Tiger" recalls "The Death of Vishnu" and "Bangkok 8" in ambition, scope, and narrative genius, with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation -- and a startling, provocative debut.


Friday, May 28, 2010


Railgate writedown. It's the passengers, stupid!

Pacific Gazette reveals the truth behind the strategy behind the statements behind the agenda ...


In yesterday's post we mentioned how, in the Fall of 2002, the Campbell/Brown government removed the legal requirement for BC Rail to provide passenger service by steathily changing a 90 year old statute under the stealthy subheading called 'Miscellaneous'.

But, of course, to make it all palatable the Campbell/Brown surrogates had to get out there and start making stuff up about how much money BC Rail's passenger programs were losing, as is demonstrated in the following excerpt from Will McMartin's Tyee piece mentioned above:

Read Pacific Gazette revelations HERE.

And then RossK follows through with:

Hi All--

Follow-up to the 'RailGate Writedown' piece cited by Mary at the top of the post titled, 'RailBiz Relativity....We Are Family' is now up at my place.....

... Here.

Wow ... don't miss RossK's deductions. - BC Mary.


Thursday, May 27, 2010


The BC Rail Scandal "Conspiracy Theory"

By Robin Mathews
May 27, 2010

One of the largest elephants in Courtroom 54 of the B.C. Supreme Court is The BC Rail Scandal “Conspiracy Theory”.  The elephant is huge.  It won’t go away.  It hangs like an immense, dark cloud – if an elephant can do that – over every word spoken in the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial.

[‘An “elephant” in the room’ in ordinary speech refers to a major, fundamental factor that – by common consent, for some reason – is ignored by all those who shouldn’t ignore it.]

Bill Tieleman of Weststar Communications has created an A to Z summary of (almost) all the actors in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter.  Mr. Tieleman has provided an invaluable reference tool for anyone new to – or even well versed – in the story.

This presentation of The BC Rail Scandal “Conspiracy Theory” is intended to fill the same kind of need – to provide a place where people interested in the Basi, Virk, and Basi portion of the BC Rail Scandal can go to see what the Conspiracy Theorists believe.

Conspiracy Theorists, of course – we all know – are “theorists”.  They try to find explanations for events that lack coherent and rational explanation.  They are very often described as “freaks” and “nut cases” and people with “feverish imaginations”.  They are described in that way for two reasons.

The first reason is because they are frequently “freaks” and “nut cases” and people with “feverish imaginations”.

The second reason is because … they aren’t people of that kind … but they are on to something that suggests corrupt links among forces that don’t want corrupt links to be seen. So they have to be called “freaks” and “nut cases” to invalidate their theories.

The Mainstream Press and Media have refused to take the BC Rail Scandal seriously, have refused to do investigative reporting on it, have refused – even – to report important facts presented to them.  The Globe and Mail recently produced an editorial tut-tutting that Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough could be so rude as to name and involve Gordon Campbell in the BC Rail Scandal of which Campbell is the chief author and architect – and out of which has come the trial of Basi, Virk, and Basi.

The Mainstream Press/Media are staffed by jolly, rotund journalists, for the most part, who roll on the floor in laughter at the suggestion they might be serving another master than truth in their non-reporting of the BC Rail Scandal story.

“Sounds,” they say, “like Conspiracy Theory to us – sounds like what you’d expect from freaks and nut cases.”

The big story, the BIG Conspiracy Theory begins in 2001 … and before.

U.S, power in the world is being challenged by an enormous debt load and  by rising economies – China, India, a South American (“anti-American”) bloc… and more.  To remain “paramount”, the U.S. must consolidate undisputed power over global primary resources and infrastructures.  And (connected) the U.S. must consolidate undisputed power over global movements of capital.

[That second part won’t be dealt with here : the “private” U.S. federal reserve board; the Goldman Sachs phenomenon – secretly helping Greece to fake its European Union position and then pulling the rug; the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund both U.S.-over-weighted demanding privatization of EVERYTHING when they get power over countries desperate for loans – privatization take-over by foreign multi-national corporations; the present run on the Euro to displace it as a competitor with the U.S. dollar, and …and….]

The first part is (principally) our “Conspiracy Theory” story: “The U.S. need to consolidate undisputed power over global primary resources and infrastructures”  – and, as a part of that, increasingly to integrate Canada into the U.S. to end Canadian priorities in the use of Canadian wealth.

Paul Tellier was the magician who took publicly-owned CN Rail, privatized it, and delivered it – in fact – to U.S. private ownership. In 2001 Paul Tellier travelled to Vancouver.  He gave a speech saying BC Rail should do what CNR has done. [And what better way than to melt BC Rail into the now privatized CNR? Gordon Campbell, we are told, was of that mind even earlier.  Was Paul Tellier’s visit to Vancouver … a coincidence?]

In the 1996 B.C. election Gordon Campbell promised to privatize BC Rail.  He lost the election on that promise.  In the 2001 election he promised not to sell or privatize BC Rail.  In power, he began almost immediately to break his promise, and – as events have proved – to get BC Rail into the hands of the CNR.

Conspiracy theorists point out that Gordon Campbell has appeared to keep  close and strange contacts with various representatives of U.S. power.
The magnificent Canadian Mainstream Press/Media – as well as the fiercely aggressive (?) B.C. NDP Opposition – have never, ever investigated Campbell’s frequent trips to the U.S. – New York, California, and elsewhere – to find out what he does there, what he really does ….

We know he has sunk BC Ferries – watch for the bubbles on the surface.  And he appointed a U.S. CEO to BC Ferries at, now, $1,000,000.00 per year.  We know he has destroyed BC Hydro and has handed part to Accenture of the smelly U.S. ENRON energy debacle. We know he has handed control, in fact, of BC river energy power to U.S. interests.  We know he has castrated what is left of BC Hydro so it can exist in name only – for public relations purposes.  We know he is privatizing Crown land – almost as gifts to giant forest companies.

BC Rail is, alas, part of the larger sell-out, fitting neatly into the overall “Conspiracy Theory”.

In power, Gordon Campbell very soon lined up all his ducks for an unstoppable assault upon and transfer of BC Rail to CNR.  [At this point hackles will rise and tempers fray – among the anti-Conspiracy Theory group.]

Who were the ducks who had to be lined up for a successful integration of BC Rail into the “North American resource and infrastructure takeover controlled from the U.S.A.” according to the “Conspiracy Theory”?

Of course, BC Rail officials had to be brought onside.  (Like many BC Hydro officers, they came easily – for what price?)  Major cabinet people had to co-operate.  They did.  (Some mysteriously left politics soon after, without convincing explanation.) MLA’s had to respond in the legislature like barking seals.  They outdid themselves – except for Paul Nettleton who was run out of Liberal caucus for disagreeing with the destruction of B.C. Rail.

An Evaluation Committee and many, many other groups and operatives had to be put in motion in order to misinform the public and deceive it, to dismantle good parts of BC Rail, to weaken freight expertise, to end passenger services, to cook the books to show (fake) losses, to achieve muddy financial oversight from outside, and to build a wholly fake, conventional, standard bidding process by which to deliver BC Rail to the CNR.

All that was put together – the “Conspiracy Theory” postulates - with brilliant success (and only two Opposition members existing, who fought valiantly in the legislature against the fraud).

But more was needed.

The federal government had to be on side.  Stephen Harper (a North American integrationist) was a knock-over. He is never mentioned in the sell-out.

The privatization process – The “Conspiracy Theory” argues – not only skirted the edges of criminal behaviour – but it crossed over into criminality in a way that involved major actors in the BC Rail Scandal. For that reason the Ottawa headquarters and the BC RCMP had to be brought on side.  Getting them on side (in the BC Rail Scandal “Conspiracy Theory” version of the story) was achieved, but only with what has become an increasingly embarrassing compromise. The compromise required that [after all those years of investigation] a trial be held of what seemed to the RCMP to be an open and shut, easily insulated, allegedly criminal piece of mischief allegedly undertaken by three lower order (but not unimportant) government servants:  Basi, Virk, and Basi.

Unfortunately, for the top wrong-doers (the “Conspiracy Theory” says), Basi, Virk, and Basi hold tightly to a steel rope that leads directly into the cabinet and into the premier’s office.

Unfortunately, for justice in British Columbia (the “Conspiracy Theory” says), the BC RCMP has so compromised itself that it can only refuse to undertake an investigation into wrong doing on the part of Gordon Campbell and his associates in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to CNR.

To make everything move “as smooth as butter” a Special Crown Prosecutor had to be appointed to deal with the compromise case – while dodging all the major actors.  Who could fill the position?  The “Conspiracy Theory” suggests that a long-time partner and colleague of the Attorney General and of the Deputy Attorney General would be the perfect choice – even though that would be a violation of the legislation governing the appointment of Special Prosecutors.  It was done.  Easily. (And never reported by the Mainstream Press and Media.)

A further problem was present, the “Conspiracy Theory” believes.  The B.C. Supreme Court had to get on side … or, at least, had to “go along”.  All seemed to unfold as it should.

The judge chosen to preside was the judge involved with what I call “the fraudulent investigation and trial of Glen Clark, former NDP premier”.  [Indeed, the framing of Glen Clark – with ample RCMP help, the “Conspiracy Theory” has it – was very likely, like the speech of Paul Tellier in Vancouver, part of the preparation to place Gordon Campbell in the position to sell-off ownership and/or control of major B.C. wealth to U.S. interests.]

After 136 days of nasty trial and Mainstream Press and Media crucifixion, Glen Clark was ruined politically.  Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett defended the trial that found Clark innocent of all charges.

Bennett seemed a natural for the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter.  She took a conservative view of the law in the Glen Clark case.  When Clark’s lawyer said the evidence was groundless and the charges should be stayed, Bennett pushed on…to find at the end of the 136 days of trial that the evidence was … groundless…. By then, Glen Clark was ruined.

In the Basi, Virk, and Basi pre-trial hearings (the “Conspiracy Theory” has it) Justice Bennett looked more largely at cause and effect, motivation and action, the accused, the accusers, and the superiors of the accused.  As a result, she admitted to evidence a growing body of material that pointed to others – in, for instance, the matter of leaks of confidential information and of practicing to misrepresent the truth –  others much, much more powerful than Basi, Virk, and Basi.

For that reason, the “Conspiracy Theory” alleges, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett had to go.  Was her promotion to Appeals Court a manipulation to get her out?  Was she more or less herded out by then Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm?  Was her replacement  - Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie – a fix?  The BC Rail Scandal “Conspiracy Theory” says YES.  Being a “Conspiracy Theory”, what else can it say?

Now-Associate Chief Justice Anne Mackenzie closed all the doors to Defence applications for disclosure and … almost anything else.  The trial, she said, must go ahead.  It needs to be a fair trial, not a perfect one.  Fully informed of the wrongful appointment of the Special Prosecutor, she refuses even to reply to correspondence on the matter.  Is she so compromised that she can’t uphold the integrity of the administration of justice in her court?  The “Conspiracy Theory” can explain her behaviour in no other way, of course.

The trial has begun.  The Crown may call more than a few dozen witnesses.  The first – Martyn Brown, Gordon Campbell’s chief of staff and top political advisor -  is being tightly grilled by Defence Counsel’s Kevin McCullough.  Brown begins to look … well … not too good. His cross-examination points forward to revelations that may well place senior actors in the BC Rail Scandal in perilous position.

After three days, one of the accused has fallen ill.  The case is adjourned for a week.  The “Conspiracy Theory” says the writing is on the wall.  If all Crown witnesses are dissected as Martyn Brown is being dissected, the Gordon Campbell caravan may well drive over the cliff.

Being the BC Rail Scandal “Conspiracy Theory”, it says that unless a god drops out of the sky onto the case and takes it over – to assure justice is done, then all the forces working in collusion, in the “Conspiracy” will – by next Monday – have set about creating the machinery to blast the whole case out of the courtroom and off the books.

But we know that Conspiracy Theories are often the creations of freaks and nut cases.  And so the Basi, Virk, and Basi case may make its way, slowly, correctly, painstakingly … to a conclusion in which justice is done and the “fair trial” of Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie is born out – and the guilty in the BC Rail Scandal are all, eventually, brought to appropriate judgement  … and the innocent sent freely out into the world.

* My court reporter accreditation, a tiny right granted to reporters to record proceedings for accuracy of reporting, was denied by a four person committee of three CanWest employees and one CTV employee.  I was advised by Neal Hall of the committee to approach the judge in the case, Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie.  I did.  She refuses to acknowledge my request.  I have criticized both CanWest and the presiding judge during my three and a half years of covering the BC Rail Scandal proceedings.

Is it possible that they have combined to deny me a very simple right … to deny me a very simple right?  Is it “Conspiracy Theory” to ask the question?  Whatever the case, it is a tiny, tiny moment in the BC Rail Scandal – an almost meaningless moment.

Almost ….

BC Mary comment:
I can't think of a word that fits ... to describe the media silence this past week.

How obnoxious is it, that this familiar scene in Courtroom 54 was allowed back on-stage on Tuesday morning ... everybody in their appointed seats, even the stars of the show, Dave Basi and his bro-in-law, Bobby Virk ...

and apparently THEY didn't even know that Cousin Aneal was too sick to attend court?

Our "rotund" newshounds (make that dachshunds) can't even find out what kind of sickness Aneal has ... or if he will actually be able to attend court next Monday, May 31.

With a shrug, it seems, the judge and Crown Prosecutor, lawyers by the dozen, simply turned and left the building. I guess. I mean, what the heck? Are we in the stone age again, with no technology? 

Me, I have a very uneasy feeling about that suddenly, surprisingly  emptied-out courtroom. That's our trial. Our railway: British Columbia Railway ... in many ways (all legal), still ours.

So ... was Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough just a little too successful in his cross-examination of the witness, Martyn Brown? I can't help thinking: probably yes, too successful to be allowed to continue ...


If nothing else (and what else is there?), the Silence of the Dachshunds tells us that Canwest is quite content with the situation as it is right now: with the latest muzzling of the BC Rail Corruption Trial.

No wonder the 3 CanWesters on the so-called BCSC Media Accreditation Committee (4 people), felt comfortable denying an independent journalist the use of a recorder. They could, so they did.

At first, I was very angry to think that bankrupt CanWest had embedded itself right in the BC Supreme Court with power to deny accreditation to other journalists. In other words, the power to choke off news.

But in the end, their ham-fisted rejection showed the quality of both media and judiciary in the province ... and that would've been a difficult task if the CanWest journalists hadn't performed as they did.

Who would have believed it, if someone else had simply written up the astonishing story of how news is gathered in BC Supreme Court?

So who could doubt that strange conclusions are probably developing right now, even as we speak.

I mean ...

BC Rail trial - If you go chasing rabbits …

By Peter Ewart
May 28, 2010

Alice’s adventures in the well-known children’s book “Alice in Wonderland” begin when, sitting idly on a river bank, she sees a rabbit with pink eyes rush by her.  Because the rabbit just happens to take a watch out of its pocket and look at it, she decides, “burning with desire”, to follow the rabbit across a field, only to see it disappear down a hole under a hedge.  Down goes Alice after the elusive rodent, only to find herself deep underground in a bizarre world of Cheshire cats, dodos, Mad Hatters, hookah-smoking caterpillars, and Queens and Kings of Hearts.

Some would caution Alice.  “Don’t follow that rabbit”, they say.  And, indeed, that appears to be the same unsolicited advice that lawyer Kevin McCullough is getting from the authors of a recent Globe & Mail editorial. 

Mr. McCullough is the lawyer defending Bobby Virk, one of the defendants in the BC Rail corruption trial currently going on in Vancouver.  McCullough was vigorously cross examining Crown witnesses a few days ago about a number of issues directly or indirectly related to the case.  This has prompted the Globe & Mail editors to write that any attempts by the defense lawyer to treat Premier Campbell and his government as if they were the ones on trial amounts to a “demagogic abuse of the jury.” 

In his cross examination of the witnesses, McCullough has made a number of startling allegations about the Premier and the provincial government.  Besides the well-known ones that Gordon Campbell reneged on his promise to sell BC Rail (as he did with the HST) and that the so-called 990 year “lease” of the railway operations and track to CN Rail actually constituted a sale, McCullough has also claimed that the Campbell government adopted a “failure strategy” to drive BC Rail “into the ground”, as part of a scheme to make the railway look unprofitable in order to win the public over to selling it off to a private bidder.

McCullough has further alleged that the bidding process itself was “rigged” from the beginning with Premier Campbell intent on “handing over” the publicly-owned railway to CN Rail.  In previous years, McCullough claims, the former chairman of CN Rail was a fundraiser for the provincial Liberal Party and played a big role in convincing Campbell to run as Party leader.   The lawyer also noted that CN Rail has donated $269,000 to Premier Campbell’s Liberal Party between 1999 and 2009.

According to McCullough, the Liberal government was involved in dirty tricks against opponents of the BC Rail sale, including arranging for government staff in Victoria to place “planted” calls into radio talk shows. 

Another alleged “dirty trick” was carried out by the head official of the ominously named “Special Projects” division of the Premier’s office.  In that case, the official, presumably at the instigation of the Premier, is claimed to have helped organize the disruption of an anti-fish farm rally in Victoria, paying certain “personnel” $100 a head to “protest the protest.”

In the most damning allegation of all, both Gordon Campbell and Martyn Brown, the Premier’s chief of staff, are said to have regularly called one of the defendants, Bobby Virk, after he had been arrested and charged, telling him that “he would be taken care of if he kept his mouth shut.”

Now, with his allegations, Mr. McCullough appears to be trying to flush out rabbits.  But unlike the Globe & Mail editorialists who are concerned about whether, in this case, Premier Campbell and his government end up being the ones on trial, there are many in BC who would like nothing better than to follow these scurrying little beasts wherever they may go. 

Yes, like Alice, we, too, would like to go all the way down the rabbit hole to see with our own eyes what kind of strange, parallel world exists just below the surface in BC politics and what kind of weird creatures inhabit it. 

However, if we do this - one bit of advice.  It could be a rough and dizzy ride.  As Jefferson Airplane sang in “White Rabbit”, the rock group’s famous anthem from the 1960s: We should “keep our heads … keep our heads.” 

Peter Ewart is a writer and community activist based in Prince George, British Columbia.  He can be reached at: 


He claims to be sick, without offering any proof ... [gasp! is this possible?]

There's a news report in Friday's Globe and Mail (May 28, 2010) which probably made British Columbian heads spin. If you really, really want to see the story, it's HERE, over the sub-headline "He claims to be sick, without offering any proof ... it's an abuse of the judicial system" says the judge.  Me, well shucks, I just want to show readers what it looks like when a judge starts yelling "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it any more!!!!!!"

Mr. Coretti sent a young temporary lawyer to give his regrets and ask the judge to move the case to 2011. Instead, the barrister got an earful from the judge.

“Ridiculous,” said Judge Corriveau of Quebec Superior Court. “He claims to be sick, without offering any proof … it’s an abuse of the judicial system and it sends the message that we are here at the disposal of those who would abuse the judicial system.” 



Lying brings short-term success, Ian says: "the BC Rail case is a perfect example ..." Read more at Northern Insights


NORTHERN INSIGHTS, a fine blog run by Norman Farrell, is one of my daily stops. Today's top piece talks  about why people tell lies; and about Gordo and Shirley Bond. Recommended.

 "The dog ate my homework" is followed by a good example of the growing excellence among  commentors which I have also noted and welcomed here, at my own blog. It reflects the developing maturity of public understanding of the BC Rail Corruption Trial ... and that is important ... it's why we need carefully televised (single focus, unedited, uninterrupted) coverage of what's going on in BC Supreme Court, on our behalf, these days. I mean, how ridiculous is it that when one of the Accused "falls ill" that he can't follow the sessions by video, TV, or whatever ... testimony has already been taken from one of the witnesses (Ian Munro from Halifax). Or was that a lie too?

So in case you miss them, I add the NORTHERN INSIGHTS  comments (thanks, Norman!) :

 3 comments from "Northern Insights"
The Dog Ate My Homework :

Anonymous said...
Thank goodness that British Columbians still value the truth. If we take the time to look, then we see thru Captain Campbell and his efforts to thwart justice and honesty.

One thing you can say about Carole, she ain't no liar. Oh, and BTW, I resent the speaker of the house encourageing lying.

May 26, 2010 11:38 PM


Ian said...
Excellent post. I have a hard time with this one. Politicians spin, they always will and they always have. But what does that mean? I believe it's basically a case of putting out the good news and leaving out the bad.

Is that a lie? I'm not sure it matters in political discourse. What matters is recognizing and interrogating it... Putting both sides on the table in a serious and critical fashion. It's a huge job for an opposition and the fourth estate and one that just about died in this province between 2001 and 2005. I'd argue its been on life support in the fourth estate for a decade and half.

But the Liberals have stepped up this game and your post shows that. They've incorporated the big, straight out lie into spin. The BC Rail case is a perfect example. That's not spin as we know it, it's a complete fabrication that makes no reference to established facts.

The media in particular treats it like spin - as part of the she said/he said discourse - a completely inadequate and wrong headed response. The use of the lie as spin is socio-pathic politics and it's best practiced by politicians who lie as if they are speaking the truth, politicians who have absolutely no moral compass.

You see it all over. American politics is riddled with it (Sarah Palin)and its become the MO for federal Tory politics.

Blogs, i fear, contribute to it as the conventions are fluid, but they are also the best defence right now because it's where you get real debate, not the ideologically managed debate we find in say the Sun or the Globe, or the personality driven and ideologically inspired politics of the nightly newshour.

May 27, 2010 12:08 AM 
Norman Farrell said...
Ian, as always, your contribution is appreciated. I don't know people that disagree with what we're saying, just those not bothered by the situation. Yet, I'm certain the entire political dialog is damaged, if not pointless. Instead of listening to alternatives, we tend to take sides and let someone else do the thinking.

Under Liberals, the operatives doing the deciding for the province make up a group far too small. Even elected MLAs are excluded. They're given talking points and pompoms and told to get on side. What a waste of intellectual talent.

I was 13 or 14 when I read Vance Packard's book The Hidden Persuaders in which he explored methods of motivating consumers of both stuff and ideas. Maybe that book set me up for a lifetime of cynicism, or maybe it taught realism.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


One week delay - a gift to the Prosecution in the BC Rail Corruption trial

The Week-Long Adjournment of the BC Rail Scandal Trial Is Fraught With Implications.
(May 25, 2010)

By Robin Mathews

 The Basi, Virk, and Basi trial has begun to strip away layers of ‘disinformation’ engaged in by Gordon Campbell and his associates in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR.

The sudden and unexpected sickness of Aneal Basi (about which there is, apparently, no doubt) has – in a sense – derailed the momentum of the trial.  Mr. Basi’s illness, surprisingly, seems a gift to the prosecution and, perhaps, to Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie – not, I think, to the Defence. I will explain….

Madam Justice MacKenzie, we remember, took over the matter mid-stream in a way that has never been satisfactorily explained, She set about closing off all Defence access to “disclosure” materials that are key to its operation.  Mr. Berardino, “Special” Crown Prosecutor, announced this morning that, when court sits again on Monday next [May 31] at nine in the morning, he will bring up the matter of “relevancy.  [He means “relevance”, but maybe “relevancy” sounds more important.]

What he will say, doubtless, is that the Defence is throwing a huge net to catch whatever they can [not relevant], while the case is a very simple one about three men allegedly doing dirty little deeds of the kind a free society cannot countenance.  “Get on with the simple, straightforward, clear case”, he will say in one way of another.

Canadians (and British Columbians, especially) need to pay close attention to that argument.  Upon it, I say, hinges whatever possibility there is for some degree of justice to come out of the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial.

The Defence – as I have gathered from its uninterrupted momentum from the beginning of pre-trial hearings three and a half years ago - will claim, in its catalogue of counter-claims, that the accused didn’t leak confidential information to anyone.  That is one of the crimes charged against the accused.

But if the accused didn’t commit the crime, who did?

If the accused are not guilty of the charge, who is?  Who broke oaths of confidentiality and leaked confidential information?  Someone is guilty of doing so?

Because that is a real question of primary importance, Defence has been pushing Martyn Brown, Gordon Campbell’s chief of staff and top political advisor, on the question.

If there was (as I have been saying for a long time) (a) a Campbell policy and program to make BC Rail fail, and if  (b) there is evidence (to support the claim of) a faked bidding process, and if (c) ‘Campbell and associates’ were leaking privileged information to CNR (as other bidders insisted they were) to make it “look” the best bidder, and if (d) all but one other bidder left because of the stench of impropriety in the bidding -  and there was a push to keep Omnitrax in the bidding at all costs … there is every reason to believe there could have been “leaking” of confidential information from top sources, not from the accused … to Omnitrax.

For that reason, the Defence is NOT casting a wide net.  It is addressing directly the claim that two of the accused men leaked confidential information that was very likely leaked – for policy reasons – by people in commanding positions in the transfer of BC Rail to the CNR. Others may be guilty of the crime alleged to have been committed by the accused. Mr. Berardino, “Special” Prosecutor does not, I think, want questioning to go in the direction it is taking.  I believe Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie doesn’t either. [Much more on this in following columns.]

Attempts to close off the Defence line of argument may be rachetted up when court sits again on Monday, May 31.  Watch for it.  Watch Mr. Berardino.  Watch Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie. The integrity of the trial, I believe, depends on the Defence being able to pursue its line of argument.  But the matter goes deeper, even, than that.

There is a publication ban on all matters of evidence, submissions, rulings, and reasons for judgement in the court in the full scope of the pre-trial hearings (“in the absence of the jury”).  But there can be no ban on the records of Hansard (the day-to-day presentations of evidence and argument in the Legislature concerning the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to CNR).

Using Hansard records, contributing editor of Tyee, Will McMartin has just written about the astonishing abuse of trust in the whole, sleazy operation of dumping BC Rail. His language about the Campbell group reinforces a demand I have been making insistently.

“The biggest contribution of the premier and his MLAs was to drastically distort and misrepresent BC Rail’s financial health….”  “…the claim that profits sent to Victoria prevented the rail company from up-grading its fleet of passenger cars was, and is, ludicrous….”  “The BC Liberal disinformation campaign got seriously underway in February 2003….” And so on….

A disinformation campaign is one in which a whole program is set on foot to make the false appear to be the true.

What Will McMartin points to, yet again, I insist, is my allegation that Campbell and his associates didn’t just lie to the people of British Columbia.  They didn’t just set about destroying the integrity of an asset owned by the people of British Columbia in order to hand it to private corporate “friends”.   They didn’t just involve a large number of civil servants to create a false picture.  They didn’t just engage in an expensive make-believe bidding process that was not legitimate.

They also, I allege, - in doing all those things – engaged in criminal breach of trust.  That is why I asked RCMP top officer Gary Bass to begin a public investigation into Gordon Campbell and associates in the transfer of BC Rail to the CNR in order to clear the air forever on the matter.  And that – I believe with great sorrow – is why Gary Bass refuses to undertake an investigation.

The brief series of events that happened in courtroom 54 this morning – surrounding and leading to an adjournment of the court until next Monday morning – does not bode well for a trial of integrity.  British Columbians must try to see the trial in clear terms.  It is about the betrayal of British Columbians by the Gordon Campbell group and “government”.

Those of us familiar with the long proceeding would be very happy to believe it is simply about three lower level operatives who put their fingers in the pie.  If it were that, we could feel happy.  It might mean, then, that otherwise, the people of British Columbia have a top government administration of integrity.

The trial is about the integrity of the Gordon Campbell government. It cannot help being that. And it may, also, be about the disintegration of the administration of justice in the province – happening before our eyes.

That part is still up for grabs.

Comment by solocanoe:

Thank you

You are bang on!

The relevance issue is the only way to attempt to protect a man who undoubtedly was the coach in all this.

Everything turns on the defense's cross exam of the main puppeteer. a very good job of questionning is being done btw.

I predict a serious shortening of the 40 person witness list next and questions must be put to someone if there is going to be testimony to that effect by the defendants. Brown is the most obvious candidate and the judge must allow all this as relevant. Questions around future testimony of defendants must be put to witnesses in cross or the Special prosecutor will cry fowl for that.

The relevance objection cannot succeed or the court assists in hiding the truth.

# posted by Anonymous solocanoe : May 26, 2010


Tuesday, May 25, 2010


So, people aren't interested in the BC Rail Corruption Trial, eh?

BC Mary comment: Kootcoot's latest posting at House of Infamy includes the following quote, and a graph showing the number of visitors to his blog (House of Infamy) and mine (The Legislature Raids) for the 3 days the BC Rail Corruption Trial has been running:

Koot writes:

... The traffic statistics for blogs like the Legislature Raids and here at the House of Infamy tend to indicate that there are more and more people who aren't only interested in this trial, but interested in getting beyond the same old spin of the same old PABlum Brigade and their allies of the formerly Assperson Press and Media Empire.

The Data

Day 1 - Trial scheduled to begin, but the jury is sent out and ... etc. Read more of  Koot's article that goes with the graphs, at

and by the way, this happens to be No. 1,500 of the postings gathered on The Legislature Raids since we began, back in 2006, when the first announcement was made that the trial of Basi, Virk, Basi would start in June, 2006. 

Well, of course, it didn't. Old cyber-friends will remember Koot and BC Mary as well as "Coyote", G West, Lynx, and others who were frequent contributors to the comment threads on The Tyee. At that first Basi-Virk postponement, we all realized that we might never know what had happened to BC Rail if we didn't do something ourselves.  Our blog ventures developed all together, right then and there. I love it that we've grown into a larger collegial, cordial,co-operative circle of bloggers  ever since.

So this has been a wonderful week for us, -- May 2010 -- when the BC Rail Corruption Trial actually did begin. It's been impossible to describe how welcome Kevin McCullough's decisive, clear-minded cross-examination sounded to us, after the long, dark wait outside the stonewalling. Hallelujah! 

And happy (almost)anniversary, Koot.  



Aww, fer cryin' out loud, didn't I say that this BC Rail Corruption trial should be televised?

Illness postpones BC Rail trial

CBC News - May 25, 2010

See CBC report HERE for sketch of Aneal Basi, left, Bobby Virk, middle, and Dave Basi in court during the BC Rail corruption trial. (CBC)

The corruption trial of three former B.C. government staffers was postponed on Tuesday because one of the accused apparently fell ill.

Judge Anne MacKenzie announced the trial would take a break until May 31.

Premier Gordon Campbell's chief of staff Martyn Brown was expected face another day of questioning when the second week of the legislature raid trial was scheduled to get underway in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday morning.

{Snip} ...

With files from The Canadian Press

Read more:

Basi Virk trial delayed one week due to illness

Neal Hall - Vancouver Sun
Read a bit more HERE.

BC Mary comment: Like, Aneal could've stayed home in bed, and been more comfortable watching and listening to everything said in BC Supreme Court today, if somebody would flip the ON switch and televize the sessions from  Courtroom #20, the Air India Courtroom (fully fitted). Right? Aneal and everybody else who cares about the BC Rail Corruption trial could be fully informed. So why not flip the damn switch and get on with the trial? Otherwise, what's the next time-out ... Bill Berardino has gout? Erik Bornmann has toothache? And before we know, it's Christmas again. Come onn.



BC Rail Corruption Trial continues today in BCSC

Confirmed in BC Supreme Court criminal trial listings, File #23299, for Basi, Limited Access, and Virk 10:00 AM.


Premier's chief of staff faces further grilling at legislature raid trial

By: The Canadian Press - 25/05/2010
As it appeared in Winnipeg Free Press

VANCOUVER - The second week of the corruption trial of three former B.C. government staffers goes today in Vancouver, but it won't look much different from week one.

Premier Gordon Campbell's chief of staff remains in the witness box and is expected to be there for several more days.

Martyn Brown is being questioned about testimony he gave last week in an appearance that was only supposed to last half a day but could now consume most of the first two weeks of the trial.

Brown has denied defence allegations that he repeatedly contacted one of the government aides to offer support and assistance in the weeks after several legislature offices were raided in December 2003.

{Snip} ...

Read a bit more HERE


BC Mary comment: Do I imagine it? Or is The Canadian Press trying to tell us "Ain't nuthin' to see here, folks, just move along please ... thank you very much, just keep movin' along ... this week, next week ... yawwwwn ... "


Monday, May 24, 2010


BC Rail Trial: May 23

How Libs Made BC Rail's True Value a Fake Train Wreck

By Will McMartin - May 24, 2010
Read Will McMartin's full story HERE.

... the Campbell government -- and its hand-picked board of directors -- made decisions that resulted in the sale or abandonment of many of the Crown corporation's operations, thereby drastically slashing revenues.

Plus, under the BC Liberals, BC Rail's management and board introduced a series of special charges, restructuring costs and write-downs that altered operating profits into net losses.

The biggest contribution of the premier and his MLAs was to drastically distort and misrepresent BC Rail's financial health, and so convince many British Columbians -- including nearly everyone in the legislative press gallery -- that the Crown corporation was an unaffordable burden on provincial taxpayers.

Much of that disinformation campaign is found in Hansard, the official report of debates in the British Columbia Legislature.

{Snip} ...

By the end of 2002, BC Rail's revenues had fallen to just $313.3 million, largely due to the discontinuation of numerous operations, such as the Whistler Northwind luxury tour train, the Pacific Starlight Dinner Train and the Cariboo Prospector passenger service. The company also sold assets and operations (Casco Terminals and Canadian Stevedoring) in the Marine Division, and quit Intermodal Trailer on Flatcar services.

Still, continuing operations showed an operating profit of $71.3 million -- a 103 per cent increase over the previous year.

That was wiped-out, however, by the decision to record a $140.2 million charge for "discontinued operations," which transformed the operating profit into a net loss of $84.2 million.

Campbell's unbelievable assertion

The BC Liberal disinformation campaign got seriously underway in February 2003, when Campbell appeared on province-wide television to make the unfounded assertion that BC Rail had cost provincial taxpayers a billion dollars in subsidies.

Days later, on February 25, when Reid rose in the legislature to participate in the budget debate, she reiterated the premier's unbelievable assertion. "BC Rail has cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars over the past 15 years," she sputtered.

The BC Liberal message-track went slightly off-the-rails at the beginning of April, when Pat Bell, then a back-bench MLA from Prince George North, engaged Reid in the House during her budget estimates. "I just wanted to say briefly that I have had some wonderful reports on the improvements of service by BC Rail, particularly in the last five or six months," he said.

"I've had a number of unsolicited phone calls from different shippers saying that things are actually going very well, and they're pleased with the progress that BC Rail has made."

Campbell got things going in the right direction the next day, April 2, resuming his campaign of distortion. "The facts on BC Rail are clear," he declared. "Over the last 15 years the taxpayers have subsidized BC Rail to the tune of $1 billion. The fact is that customers are leaving BC Rail."

Both of those assertions -- that BC Rail needed subsidies from provincial taxpayers, and that railway customers were abandoning the service -- were at odds with previous declarations by his own backbenchers.

Remember, a year earlier Walt Cobb had bemoaned the fact that BC Rail, instead of receiving subsidies, actually had paid sizeable dividends in the 1990s to the provincial treasury. And just one day prior to Campbell speaking to the House, Bell had stated that "different shippers" had telephoned him, not to say they were quitting BC Rail, but with compliments on the railway's improved operations.

{Snip} ...

In late November and early December, during second-reading debate on legislation to privatize BC Rail, BC Liberal cabinet ministers and backbenchers fell over themselves to denigrate the publicly-owned railway and distort the non-cash write-offs.

Shirley Bond declared that $857 million was the amount British Columbians "have paid to write down the debts of BC Rail over the past 15 years." Brian Kerr put the write-offs at $836 million. John Les said that "the $860 million worth of BC Rail debt that was written off will be paid for by our grandchildren for a long, long time to come."

Val Roddick went in a slightly different direction, blaming "these socialists" (the NDP) for write-downs of $800 million. Rick Thorpe tried to top her, saying, "It was those folks that sit over there who ran up debt of $860 million that had to be written off." (Recall that it was the Social Credit governments of W.A.C. and Bill Bennett that actually directed BC Rail to expend monies constructing the Dease Lake and Tumbler Ridge extensions in the early 1970s and early 1980s.)

The award for dumbest comment of all went to Rich Coleman, who somehow thought it would be neat to combine the Crown corporation's write-offs of $850 million with the company's debt of $500 million. "In my math, that's $1.3 billion in debt -- money that's got to come out of the pockets of B.C. taxpayers."


A rhetorical trainwreck

The bill to privatize BC Rail received royal assent on Dec. 2, 2003. Twenty-six days later, on December 28, police conducted a raid on the legislature, and specifically the office of David Basi, assistant to Finance Minister Gary Collins.

Currently, Basi and Bob Virk, a former assistant to Judith Reid, are on trial in B.C. Supreme Court on charges that include breach of trust and fraud in relation to the Campbell government's sale of BC Rail to CN.

It's unlikely the trial will determine if, as defence counsel McCullough has stated, Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberals deliberately attempted to drive BC Rail "into the ground" after breaking an election promise.

But as Hansard clearly shows, the evidence is that's exactly what the Campbell Liberals rhetorically attempted to do in the legislature.


Luring Campbell to the Witness Stand.

By Bill Tieleman
The Tyee - May 25,  2010



Intermodel at BC Rail

I worked at BC Rail for 25 years and I watched Campbell and his crew destroy BC Rail. 

Intermodel (transportation of goods by piggy backing trailers on flat cars) is a perfect example. We did a booming business in that area yet it was sold off so now trucks on the highways have to deliver those goods. 

The railway collected up the old rolling stock and destroyed it to get rid of the old inventory while buying new box cars, flat cars etc to replenish the inventory. Brand new locomotive engines were purchased shortly before CN was given BC Rail. Remote controls were implemented so yard engines didn't require enginemen saving the new owners even more money. Staff in different management areas were let go, some without more than a couple hours notice. [UNVERIFIED ALLEGATION REMOVED. - Tyee MODERATOR.] It was common knowledge around the railway that CN was going to be the successful bidder when all the dust settled.

This is all personal information and I can't give anyone official documentation to back it up but even the lawyers defending Basi and Virk can't [get] that information. But I worked right there on the ground and watched it happen.

I was there when Campbell got defeated in 1996 because he said he would sell BC Rail and I saw the reaction not only among railroaders but all over town to his idea. The alarm cost Campbell the election and Brown was in the mix. It's no coincidence that 4 years later Campbell says he won't sell BCR and the same players are still involved. 

It was a successful company for over 20 years until Campbell took charge and destroyed the company in order to sell it.

A Missive for Mayday:

We Get Letters and even Read Them!
House of Infamy - May 24, 2010

Robin Mathews, the dean of journalists, accreditated or not, covering the BC Rail trial also makes an effort to encourage public agencies like the RCMP or departments like the Canadian Judicial Council or the BC Supreme Court to honour their responsibilities to those they are supposed to serve. Many of these organizations, or those who speak for them, seem to be under the illusion that they are supposed to serve Gordon Campbell and his agenda of relieving the citizens of British Columbia of their legacy assets and either ignore Robin, or try to characterize him as some fringe voice howling in the wilderness.

Robin writes to Gary Bass of the RCMP to point out apparent violations of the law that he feels should be investigated. Mr. Bass gets back to Mr. Mathews with the news that it is up to Mr. Mathews to provide the RCMP with evidence or the RCMP can do nothing.

Now I thought that was the job of the police, to investigate alleged wrong-doing and collect evidence if it exists. Indeed, for a civilian to get involved in such activity could violate the law in various ways itself. Would I have been allowed to take my shovel to the Pickton pig farm a few years back to see what I could dig up? I think not! ...

Kootcoot's unabridged column with a photo of Robin Mathews laughing out loud is HERE.

Pacific Gazette - May 24, 2010

RailGate Spur-Line Re-Visited...


Maybe it's a good thing Omnitrax, the folks that paid Pilothouse $297,000 so that they could, in turn, allegedly give $27,000 of it to Aneal Basi, didn't win the Spur-Line to Roberts Bank Consolation Prize after all.

Otherwise, they may have held us up for ransom on that local 40km of railbed the same way they're doing out in the Kootenays with the Kettle Falls International.

Sheila Gardazi, in the Grand Forks Gazette, has the story:

Industry has proposed an agreement that, with government assistance, might keep rail service in Grand Forks, said Mayor Brian Taylor on Monday. A group of shippers that use the railway, including Pacific Abrasives and Interfor, contacted Omnitrax, which owns the Kettle Falls International Railroad.
“They were looking for an economic solution, and they found they could not find some economic solution exclusive of some government funding,” said Taylor.

What are these people anyway....

Corptacular Communists?

Just so you know, Omnitrax has threatened to tear up the tracks if it doesn't get what it wants, from governments on both sides of the border.




Bloomberg does BC Rail Corruption Trial

but you will need special access to read their reports, it seems. Pity. Bloomberg is a world-wide news service (like Reuters) and their earliest reports on the BC Rail Corruption Trial (by Joe Schneider) were excellent. 

This is all I could get today:

CNR, Winner of 2003 BC Rail Bid, Gave C$269000 to Liberals ...

Canadian National Railway Co., the winner of a C$1 billion ($960 million) auction for BC Rail Ltd. in 2003, contributed C$269000 over nine years to the ...

BC Mary commentNope ... wait ... I found this:

and I got this:

CNR's $960 Million Acquisition of BC Rail Was Rigged, Lawyer Says at Trial

By Joe Schneider - May 20, 2010
Read his full report HERE

Canadian National Railway Co., the winner of a C$1 billion ($960 million) auction for BC Rail Ltd. in 2003, contributed C$269,000 over nine years to the governing Liberal Party that sold the railway in a rigged auction, a lawyer said at a corruption trial.

David McLean, chairman of Canadian National, had persuaded Gordon Campbell to run for the leadership of the British Columbia Liberal Party and was his chief fundraiser during a 1996 campaign, the lawyer, Kevin McCullough, told a jury in Vancouver yesterday.

“The fix was in for CNR to get the assets from the beginning,” said McCullough, a lawyer for Bob Virk, who is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for information about the sale while working as assistant to the province’s transportation minister.

{Snip} ...

“I don’t believe that’s true,” Brown told the six-man, six-woman jury in British Columbia Supreme Court. He called the bidding process “fair and open.”

Brown said he wasn’t aware how much Canadian National had contributed to the Liberal Party because he works for the government, not the party.

‘Sad State’

“Donations should never factor into the government’s decisions,” Brown said. “That would be a pretty sad state of affairs.”

Canadian National, North America’s largest hauler of forest products, won the exclusive use of BC Rail’s 2,315 kilometers (1,450 miles) of track in November 2003. The losing bidders for the renewable 60-year contract were Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and a joint venture of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. and closely held OmniTrax Inc.

Virk, who sat on a government committee evaluating bids for the railway, provided Erik Bornman, a partner at Pilothouse Public Affairs Group, which represented Denver-based OmniTrax, with the bids that were submitted, at least three days before they were presented to the committee, William Berardino, a special prosecutor, said in his opening statement on May 18.

{Snip} ...

To contact the reporter on this story:
Joe Schneider in Vancouver at


Saturday, May 22, 2010


Lawyer of the week: Kevin McCullough

The BC Rail Corruption Trial began on Tuesday, May 18, 2010. 

The first witness to take the stand was Martyn Brown, who is Chief of Staff to the premier.

As the Defence lawyer began to cross-examine the witness, we realized the lawyer was asking exactly what most citizens want to know. No pussy-footing. No beating around the bush. No holding back. Brown, the poor sap, was hit by a barrage of questions ... about how the Liberals promised not to sell BC Rail during the 2001 election campaign – only to put it up for sale the next year. About secret offers to "look after" Bobby Virk if he "kept his mouth shut". About the alleged ambitions of CN's president to bankroll Campbell into the position of premier to facilitate the grabbing of BC Rail. Even questions (aha!! we thought) about neglecting and abusing BC Rail to make it seem worthless, and easier to get rid of.  Holy smoke ... !

The people of British Columbia had hungered for this kind of questioning.  Those are our questions. About our stuff. We had almost forgotten how it feels, to have somebody asking our questions that way.

It was better than the Stanley Cup playoff games because this was real. This was about BC Rail. Some of us were shouting "Go, McCullough!"

Then it occurred to me: who is Kevin McCullough?  


Kevin McCullough B.B.A.*, M.B.A.**, LL.B.***,
is a Partner in the law firm of McCullough, Parsons, Blazina
Trial Lawyers
#200 – 1011 Fort Street
Victoria BC V8V 3K5

Year of Call to the Bar of British Columbia: 1993
Law School: University of Victoria

Mr. McCullough has been a lawyer practicing criminal law for over 11 years. [Correction: 17 years.]

At the outset of his career Mr. McCullough made a decision to take cases throughout British Columbia. As a result his experience in serious and complex criminal matters is substantial. The many complex and serious cases Mr. McCullough has conducted generally fall into three categories: murders, non-murder Supreme Court trials, and dangerous offender proceedings. Obviously, in the murder and dangerous offender cases his client’s jeopardy is life in prison.

In 2004, Mr. McCullough conducted a lengthy Supreme Court trial where his client was found not guilty of Murder. Mr. McCullough had Aggravated Sexual Assault and Sexual Assault with a Weapon charges dismissed against a different client. Mr. McCullough conducted 3 Dangerous Offender rehearings in which none of his clients were found to be Dangerous Offenders.

In 2003, Mr. McCullough conducted trials where his clients were found not guilty on charges of 1st Degree Murder, Sexual Assault Causing Bodily Harm, Choking, and Threats. During 2003 Mr. McCullough conducted one of the longest Dangerous Offender Hearings in Canadian history at over 90 days. Mr. McCullough was successful in having that Dangerous Offender Application dismissed against his client.

Mr. McCullough has conducted 27 Dangerous and Long-Term Offender hearings for his clients. In other recent Murder cases, Mr. McCullough had Murder charges reduced to Manslaughter in cases in December 2003, April 2003, October 2002 (x2), September 2002, December 2001 (x2), and September 2001. In a March 2002 case Mr. McCullough had a 1st Degree Murder charge dropped against a client who had been previously convicted. In a January 2002 case the Crown did not proceed with a Murder charge against his client. In June 2001 Mr. McCullough had a Murder charge against his client dismissed following a lengthy extradition hearing to a death penalty country.

In 2001 and 2002 Mr. McCullough conducted trials where his clients were found not guilty on charges of Sexual Assault (x5), Sexual Assault with a Weapon (x3), Sexual Assault Causing Bodily Harm (x2), Assault with a Weapon, Unlawful Confinement and Threats.

As a former nationally ranked tennis player and NCAA Division I scholarship athlete, Mr. McCullough has been driven to compete from an early age. Mr. McCullough prides himself on an ability to focus and accept extreme challenges. As a five-time marathon finisher Mr. McCullough understands that it takes hard work, tenacity and drive to succeed. Mr. McCullough prides himself on working long hours and committing himself completely to the cases he conducts.

*The facts of each case vary and results are based upon those facts.

Kevin McCullough photo is HERE:

Updates HERE.

Kevin McCullough's University degrees are:
* B.B.A. - Bachelor of Business Administration
** M.B.A. - Master of Business Administration
*** LL.B. - Bachelor of Laws


A tip o'the tuque to Vancouver Sun for this backgrounder on BC Rail negotiations

BC Mary comment:  Copyright law protects intellectual property as belonging to its originators. Copyright law is a good law, confirming that benefits arising from the sale of an intellectual property, such as a published story, accrues to the one(s) who wrote it. As a former publisher, I wholeheartedly agree with that position.

Occasionally, a story will surface which holds an enormous benefit to the public at large. And in this particular case, this information is almost 6 years old, and may be largely forgotten. It is also Exhibit 1 in the most significant trial in B.C. history. I want to present these views again so that the public, at this critical time of the BC Rail Corruption Trial, may benefit from the understanding it provides.


Exhibit 1 in the BC Rail trial .. the column posted below, first pubished [sic] in The Vancouver Sun July 6, 2004. Entered into the court record by defence lawyer Kevin McCullough to show that it contains "highly confidential information."
An issue in the trial is whether the accused violated their oaths of office by leaking information.
As the column was published after the raid (when one of the accused was fired and the other suspended), McCullough presumably wants to make the point that confidential information was leaking from other sources as well.

CN, Liberals finally pry BC Rail okay out of competition bureau

Vancouver Sun
Tue Jul 6 2004
Page: A3
Section: News
Byline: Vaughn Palmer
Column: Vaughn Palmer
Dateline: VICTORIA
Source: Vancouver Sun

VICTORIA - When the B.C. Liberals announced CN Rail would take over the government-owned BC Rail last November, they had no idea it would take more than half a year to secure the necessary go-ahead from the federal competition bureau. The government planned and budgeted on a scenario that had the $1-billion deal signed, sealed and delivered inside of four months. CN had in mind a similar timetable. By late spring the U.S.-based railway was bristling at the delay and hinting it might walk away if approval were not forthcoming forthwith.
Nevertheless the bureau took its time scrutinizing the deal, agreeing to go along with it only late last week after a lengthy give-and-take with the railway, the government, shippers and other interest groups.
The holdup was owing to it being "a very complex transaction," according to the bureau, which by law conducts its affairs almost entirely in confidence.
But behind the closed doors of that seven-month long process, I gather there was a major struggle to rectify concerns that the CNR-BCR merger would place B.C.-based shippers at the mercy of a monopoly carrier.
The bureau, mind, does not concern itself with monopolies per se. BC Rail is already the only railway in some communities, CN the sole carrier in others. The merger would not affect the competitive situation (or lack thereof) in those communities.
However the bureau did highlight two ways in which competition could be significantly reduced by the CN takeover of BC Rail operations.
The most obvious involved grain shipments from the Peace River country. Currently shippers can choose either railway and they are able to play one against the other. After the merger, they would be in a take-it-or-leave-it situation with CN.
The bureau's remedy was to insist that CN provide written guarantees against over-charging as well as from subtler forms of discrimination, such as manipulation of schedules and/or the supply of grain-carrying hopper cars.
The second area of concern involved shipment of lumber beyond B.C.'s borders. Currently shipments that start out on the BC Rail network can complete their journey to U.S. markets via any one of four carriers -- CN, Canadian Pacific, Burlington Northern or Union Pacific.
There was a concern that once CN got control of the BCR, it would discriminate against the other three.
The B.C. Liberals, as part of their negotiations with CN, insisted on an "open gateway" for goods (forest products, overwhelmingly) arriving in Vancouver on the BC Rail network. CN would have to guarantee fixed and fair rates for competing carriers through to the U.S.
The competition bureau seized on the open gateway agreement as a starting point, then added additional protection. CN will not only have to maintain an open rates, it will have to guarantee travel times in hours for all goods moving along the network.
If it fails to keep to the delivery schedule, it will be subject to financial penalties, to be paid into a trust fund for future upgrading of the BC Rail line. As with the grain cars, CN will also have to demonstrate on a regular basis that it is not discriminating in the availability of rail cars for transporting forest products.
CN, needless to say, was not keen to adopt those provisions. Neither did it want to court outright rejection, because the entire deal with the government was contingent on getting a green light from the bureau.
The bureau, for its part, prefers to obtain consent for any remedies it proposes.
The alternative is to send the whole thing to a formal public hearing before the separate competition tribunal, a lengthy and expensive process where the bureau's view does not always prevail.
So on that basis, there was some give and take. The bureau pursued what it regarded as the most important safeguards and met the concern of shippers only halfway on others.
The government was also monitoring the process and at one point made a significant concession to help the deal along.
B.C. has agreed to underwrite the additional cost of one of the protections for grain shippers. The measure, a reduced rate for volume shipments, may not be invoked. It is contingent on the continuance of similar incentives elsewhere in Western Canada. But if it does kick in, then the province would be on the hook for up to $3 million as a payback to CN.
In the end, all of the aforementioned safeguards were written into a formal consent agreement with CN.
The bureau then filed the agreement with the competition tribunal as a formal demonstration that it had obtained remedies to its concerns about the potential reduction in competition.
Next step is the handover, probably in the next couple of weeks.
The province gets its $1 billion. CN gets the railway.
And then the two sides get on with delivering the reputed benefits of the deal, preferably, as the Liberals would have it, before the coming provincial election.

Read the complete post at



BC Rail: Were there "Criminals" in the corrupt "sale" ... ?

By Robin Mathews

The BC Rail Scandal – At Trial. (At Last!).  Were There “Criminals” in the Corrupt “Sale” of BC Rail to the CNR?

A program of spectacular delay ended on Tuesday, May 18, in B.C. Supreme Courtroom 54 – when the most important public criminal trial in B.C. history (really) began.  Its importance may lie in an allegation that the government of B.C. practiced (and is practicing) to deceive, with the support of the RCMP and the high courts. But whatever is found in that direction  – without doubt revelations will arise in the trial that could well wound the political and social life of B.C. for decades to come.

The BC Rail Scandal trial is named that because it arises from the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR by the Gordon Campbell government over a period stretching from 2001 to 2004.

Original police investigations began at least as early as 2002.  They refocussed and changed and shifted “everywhichway”.  Then they seized public attention at the time of the RCMP search warrant raids of the B.C. legislature offices of cabinet aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk on December 28, 2003.

Investigations eventuated in charges against the three accused men on December 22, 2004 – all charges relating to the transfer of BC Rail to the CNR.

The trial began with a packed gallery, with legal tempers alight, with procedural and evidentiary wrangling, with more media representatives gathered than ever before in the case – and, then, with focus on the first Crown witness – perhaps the most powerful civil servant in the province.  The trial may be of three (once almost unknown) ‘junior’ government appointees, but the implications of the charges against them reach and focus upon the premier, his office, and his associates in the BC Rail Scandal.

[About the ‘raids’ on legislature offices, Martyn Brown, the B.C. premier’s Chief of Staff and top political advisor, recalled in court speaking, on the day of the raids, to Gary Bass – now top RCMP officer in B.C. – who refuses to undertake a full, public, criminal investigation of the major actors in the corrupt transfer of the railway.]

Casual comments, comments dropped within hailing distance of the courtroom convey a state of mind to the effect that Defence counsel have delayed and delayed the trial.

The opposite, I believe, is the case.  Observers of the more than three years of pre-trial hearings remember application upon application by the Defence for disclosure of ’relevant’ materials from major areas of action in the ‘transfer’ (“sale”) of BC Rail.

I remember delays of many kinds by the RCMP and others called upon for disclosure.  Delay was not delay on the part of the Defence.

Over and over (during the nearly three years Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett presided) important relevant material was unearthed and disclosed.  That process stopped with the ‘replacement’ (?) arrival (never fully explained) of Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie in September 2009.  Stopped abruptly.  Stopped almost completely. She stopped it.

The significance of the call for disclosure of materials related to the corrupt “sale” of BC Rail flashed before observers almost from the start of the trial and the cross-examination of Gordon Campbell’s Chief of Staff, Martyn Brown.

To begin, remember, all the accused plead ‘not guilty’ to all charges of fraud, breach of trust, and money laundering – variously laid against the men.  The charges relate to allegations of activities the three men are alleged to have engaged in as a direct part of the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR.

Defence (obviously) wants to show the innocence of the men charged.  And in that regard, the cross-examination of Martyn Brown in the first few days of trial revealed the immense importance of the disclosure materials gained.

Employing documents ‘disclosed’, Defence counsel Kevin McCullough sought to know the true state of BC Rail – a sale or a 900-plus year lease? He sought to know if policy makers (Gordon Campbell and others) had employed a “Failure Strategy” – a calculated process of degradation and misrepresentation of BC Rail in order to dump it?  He sought to know why Dave Basi was fired on the day of the raids on the legislature offices, but that Bobby Virk was kept on, removed, but at full pay until a year later, December 22, 2004, the day upon which he was charged.

Mr. McCullough would ask the judge to mark a document for identification (for the jury) or as an exhibit (a part of evidence).  She would agree or disagree.

In the first few days, Crown counsel and Defence counsel, the accused in their glass box, the public attending, more members of the press and media than have ever appeared before, and the jury members – all – began to find a rhythm and pace and a shape to the proceedings.

The shape so far is one that has been building since December 22, 2004 … and earlier.  The primary questions have become clearer and clearer, I believe.  In the language of ordinary people – “Who are guilty in the BC Rail Scandal?”  “Were major crimes committed at highest levels … and covered?” “Were the three accused men ‘targetted’ by RCMP and the Special (Crown) Prosecutor, and did the RCMP and the Special Prosecutor choose to ignore other targets they should not have ignored?”  “Was BC Rail really put through a meat grinder by a policy of deception, manipulation, mismanagement, and amputation, and … more … to prepare it to be dumped?” “Was BC Rail, as an on-going policy – prepared, carefully, from the start, to go to CNR?”  “Were all the ‘public relations’ about a standard, fair bidding process for the freight division (‘the sale of BC Rail’) a structure of intended falsehood? And did CPR believe that was the case when it publicly withdrew and called the bidding process tainted?”

Questions put in the language of ordinary people are at the heart of the Basi, Virk, and Basi case, I suggest.  If the questions do characterize the heart of the matter, where do the (accused) two ministerial aides and the communications employee fit?

If what I write here makes sense, then so does an objection raised this week by Special (Crown) Prosecutor William Berardino.  Annoyed that counsel for Bobby Virk (Kevin McCullough) should be pressing questions upon Martyn Brown about the alleged, possible organization by the premier’s office of an alleged anti-protest against fish-farm protesters in November of 2003, Mr. Berardino rose.

At issue, he said, are the charges against the accused.  What Mr. Berardino asked – in effect – have fish farms got to do with the charges against the accused?

The answer given after the jury was asked to leave the room is under publication ban.

We don’t have to refer to the answer given then.

Mr. Berardino’s question reveals that the Crown wants to focus all attention on the localized alleged wrongful actions it wants to prove to the jury.  Mr. Berardino’s question reveals, also, that the Defence believes that the alleged, localized wrongful actions did not take place, but inasmuch as the accused undertook any actions in the long process of the transfer of BC Rail to CNR, they did so acting from policy, direction, and instruction given to them by their superiors who may have been acting (at the very least) unethically.  I presume Defence wants to prove something like that.

Gary Mason, columnist for the Globe and Mail (May 20, 2010) writes that the Defence in the case has decided – as a tactic – to “make this case about Gordon Campbell and his government as much as possible”.  And Mr. Mason suggests in the article, I believe, that Defence will use that line – one might say – whether it fits always or not.

We may, however, have to come to another conclusion – that the trial IS about Gordon Campbell and his government.  The three accused men did not go through normal employment channels to be hired, but were (apparently) recommended for political work done, and were appointed by Orders in Council (in fact, choices made in the premier’s office).

This case, in fact, may be, properly, “about Gordon Campbell and his government”.  The three men were, by appointment, a part of his government in the fullest sense of the word.

What has been said about the making of charges against the three men and the field of battle – courtroom 54 in the Supreme Court of British Columbia – is complicated by the fact that the Special (Crown) Prosecutor was appointed in December, 2003, in what I think has to be granted as a clear violation of the legislation governing such an appointment.  The Attorney General of the province will not deal with the matter.  Senior judges of the British Columbia Supreme Court will not face and deal with the matter. The Mainstream Press and Media are mute.  Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie presides at the trial as if the glaring anomaly doesn’t exist.

What other dark creatures lurk in the shadows of the trial being conducted against Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, and Aneal Basi? Certainly, in this case, aspects of the administration of justice are in shadow.  The administration of justice in British Columbia is, I insist, as much on trial in this case as are the three men formally accused (and, perhaps, it is on trial more importantly and legitimately than they are.)


Friday, May 21, 2010


BC Mary, Bill Tieleman, Tyee, Laila Yuile, Sean Holman from the Public Eye Online, Norman Farrell from the Northern Insights, RossK from the Gazetteer, and Kootcoot from House of Infamy ... bloggers working to overcome the lack of open information on BC Rail Corruption



Shout out for BC Mary and other coverage of the BC Rail trial

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On May 18, 2010, the BC Rail corruption trial finally began, over six years after police raided the BC Legislature for government corruption in December 28, 2003. Unsurprisingly, this trial has been surrounded by startling allegations of conspiracy against BC Liberal leaders like Premier Gordon Campbell, and by heated conversation between the prosecutors and the defenders.

Financial connections have been allegedly uncovered between those under trial--Dave Basi, Aneal Basi, and Bobby Virk--CN Rail chairman David McLean, and Premier Campbell. However, the trial has been mainly about whether or not such connections influenced the sale of BC Rail to CN Rail.

However, amidst the lack of open information and widespread accusations, one individual has managed to maintain an incredibly informative blog on this controversial issue: BC Mary, an internet blogger who despite retaining her anonymity has become a trusted source. In her blog named The Legislature Raids, she posts excerpts of the trial and fragments of newspaper articles discussing it. And more impressively, she has done this since the controversial issue emerged several years ago.

How BC Mary decides to present the information is important, as it serves to demonstrate to the reader the direction and tone the trial is taking. Consequently, for anyone who wants to find out for himself (or herself) more information about this topic, The Legislature Raids is the blog to visit.

However, BC Mary has not been the only one keeping the public notified on this issue and ensuring the openness of the trial. Others include Bill Tieleman,   Tyee, Laila Yuile, Sean Holman from the Public Eye Online, Norman Farrell from the Northern Insights, and Ross K from the Gazetteer.