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.
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 ...
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
“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.”
It's useless to say those who've denied accreditation to you should hang their heads in shame...feeling shame requires integrity. There's not much of that involved in this trial as near as I can see, defense excluded.
Short of the Justices, Lawyers, and Defendants - no one has seen or heard more first-hand than you have Robin."
You understate the situation, Leah. Robin has seen more than either justice, thanks to the manipulation which replaced Justice Bennett. The defendents weren't present for much or any of the pre-trial wrangling and we all know how poor is Wild Bill's attendence record - he hasn't tended to show up unless outrageous obstructive tactics, like appealing decisions etc. was required that day - otherwise a junior rep seemed adequate to Big Bad Bill.
The only ones with as much time in Studio 54 as Robin are the lawyers of the defence team.
And Curly, I can't think of a better word to describe these proceedings than your choice of "grotesque!"
I'm certain I'm not the only one anxiously awaiting to see what happens, or doesn't happen on Monday next!
I'm too old to automatically disbelieve in the improbable....
Pynchon's line about "just because you're a conspiracy theorist doesn't mean you're not right" and its corollaries are like a constant refrain in this case.....
NB the VANOC deniers/p.r. shills in Wikipedia denounced inclusion of Chris Shaw's Five Ring Circus book and the accompanying documentary as "conspiracy theories" and "fringe ideas" and have managed to purge mention of anti-Olympics analysis from Wikipedia, and loudly complain when someone (me) calls them on censorhip ("personal attack!!" they cry....). Same tale to be old on the Campbell bio page, and on the account of the prorogation crisis and other places where the spin doctors and their sticky spiderwebs have targeted....one of the great refrains is dismissing bloggers as "subjective" and attacking non-mainstream media outlets as "unreliable". They've learned wiki-language well.....it's open to manipulation and re-interpretation, even more than "real" courts are.
That's a digression from my original intent here, which is to bring up how often in the past the Canadian media have conspired to conceal/overwrite the facts, and also to dodge public opinion weighing against them by prolonged media campaigns "tell us what to think". This includes post-Oka and post-Charlottetown as well as the Glen Clark railroading, the whitewashing of the events of Solidarity '83, and the silencing of public discontent with the national media from the 1970s open-line TV show People Talking Back. The tapes of post-Charlottetown councils of pundits sitting down and talking about how they can get the public to obey them again are particularly revealing, if you can find them....I have a long memory.....
If they get their way this time, and Aneal Basi's illness is only curable by a long-term stay in Fiji (or, perhaps, Maui) and the presiding "justice" somehow manages to end the trial with no more revealing facts about he Campbell government's iniquities, or the media's collusion with same....they'll talk about how Campbell "survived" the crisis and how the defence/opposition was "scattered" and "inarticulate" and how "ineffective" the NDP was (well, they are, but that's beside the point).
US news shows would be talking to Basi's doctors by now, and having detailed profiles of his disease from Dr. Oz.....but they'd also have been all over the illegality of Berardino's appointment, and also the mysterious circumstances of the elevation/appointment of ACJ Mackenzie....
This isn't a free country. It's a bought-and-paid for country. Bought by the big corporations, paid for by the Canadian citizenry....
I wouldn't put anything past these assholes.
Also the lyric to "White Rabbit" is, I think, "feed your head, feed your head", meaning everything from reading and learning to think to ingesting as many funny pills and magic mushrooms as possible. Said to be useful therapy for addicts; maybe some acid in the courthouse cooler might bring some sanity to the proceedings and heal all the power junkies of their sins....
Where have the Globe editors been all this time? Have they followed this blog and Robin and koot's and all the rest - or are they just going by what the journalist-lobbyists of the PAB are telling them to say? As for McCullough, he's performing the investigation that the RCMP have been too politically corrupted to address.
This is not demagoguery - it is a prosecution of a case against someone not yet indicted, but who should have been the focus of the investigation all along.
What the Globe is doing is the job of protecting the Premier's Office from justice. As if doing so were illegal, like lese majeste, or unpatriotic in some way. The Globe in other words, is ignoring its own admonition from Junius...and telling us to submit to Caligula.
Maybe if they had real educations and not just MBAs and journalism degrees they'd believe in what they say, and stand up for what they claim to believe.
McCullough is doing the people's work, when the people's government - and the allegedly free press - have refused to do.
I think we should start a "Get Well Aneal" Facebook page, in support of his health and expressing hope for his full honesty and righteous deliverance from his association with the Victoria slime-machine.....
"Get well soon, we're looking forward to seeing you in court...
-Sincerely, the people of BC"
Now about this effort to influence a witness, which is what the alleged offer to Bobby Virk is, even though he's a defendant....this is old-style mob politics, Mayor Daley-style.
the further question is if that's what was said to so-and-so, who else has had similar offers? And what kind of phone calls took place between ACJ Dohm and the Premier.
We know the Globe doesn't want us to know, doesn't want us to look where we might find something. Back to the shopping mall people, and here's some car accidents and sexcrime stories and deplorable hardships and diseases and meaningless violence, plus weather and traffic. "News that people care about"....makes you wonder what else the Globe wants us to not look at elsewhere, too, doesn't it?
However the rest of the media tries to discredit Stevie as much as possible "for being an RCMP informant." My opinion on that is that at a certain point, journalist, or lawyer or whatever, as a citizen one HAS to LEGALLY report evidence of criminal behaviour. Unless you are a LIEberal in BC, of course, then they have various forms of "privilege" to protect the guilty.
Your reasoning caused me to think back to another issue which is indeed relevant to BC government affairs ... but which is carefully avoided in the bigtime news media.
Nobody has ever been sued over the issue.
But it sure stirs up a lot of nudge, nudge; wink, wink ...