Saturday, October 30, 2010
BC Rail Political Corruption trial continues in BC Supreme Court. And it's safe to say, the BC Rail Trial certainly continues in the Court of Public Opinion.
An Expert Summary of the BC Rail Scandal Fiasco - What's Left Out.
By Robin Mathews
October 27, 2010
My friend Bill Tieleman has delivered the piece on the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial that we’ve been waiting for. Acknowledged as one of the best-informed observers watching and prying into the meaning of the BC Rail Scandal, Bill Tieleman’s wisdom needs to be studied by everyone who cares about British Columbia. His October 26 article, “Hung Out To Dry” is one of the best summary articles written to date.
But its flaws are dazzling.
Mr. Tieleman (like all the mainstream press and media people) studiously avoids a few absolutely central matters – and the question must ring through anybody’s mind: Why? Why?
Hitting the nail squarely on the head, he writes that former “BC Liberal ministerial aides Basi and Virk do not deserve to spend a single day under house arrest, let alone the two years less a day they were sentenced to last week under a guilty plea bargain agreement….” They were, he says, “Hung Out to Dry”.
And then he steps away from his statement and turns to the huge, calamitous, devious doings of Gordon Campbell and associates.
Nowhere does Mr. Tieleman say there is sound legal basis to exempt the two men from any charges whatsoever. Under perfect conditions there may have been reason to charge all three men – which he does not acknowledge. And, now we’ll never know - a situation, itself, which creates a gigantic slander of the men.
And – humourously (as well as unfortunately) – Mr. Tieleman uses Shakespeare’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (two minor figures in the play HAMLET) as (innocent) parallels to
(innocent) Basi and Virk. Except Mr. Tieleman seems to forget Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are, in effect, hired by the villain of the play, Claudius, knowingly to accompany Hamlet to England with a secret letter in their possession instructing Hamlet’s future hosts to murder him! Nice guys.
The sound basis for disallowing any charges
(which Mr. Tieleman and all the other mainstream press and media people refuse to mention) is plain. In December 2003, before the search warrant raids on the legislature offices of Dave Basi and Bob Virk only (not on any of the offices of the people who gave the two men orders), a Special Prosecutor was named.
In such a case in which two men (instruments of government) were to have their offices raided and then, a year later, were to be charged, the legislation covering the appointment of Special Prosecutors is unequivocal: the Special Prosecutor must be visibly independent and unbiased. He or she must have no connection whatever with the accused. He or she must not have even the potential to be perceived as being biased.
He or she must have no connection whatever with elected government officials, civil servants, police or like persons. And in this case – compellingly – in which the cabinet is believed to have been deeply involved in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR, the Special Prosecutor should have been chosen from the 11,000 lawyers in B.C. so that he or she was obviously and unequivocally clear of any attachment to interested government figures.
But the appointed person, William Berardino QC, had been for seven years partner and colleague (and, one assumes, friend) of Geoff Plant, Attorney General in the ministry which appointed him, directly linked through membership in cabinet to Gordon Campbell and all senior operatives in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR. William Berardino had been, as well, eleven years partner and colleague (and, one assumes, friend) of the Deputy Minister in that same ministry, Allan Seckel.
That was enough to rule out Mr. Berardino, categorically. But then in the Spring of 2007, Gordon Campbell entered the pre-trial process, dissolved the working protocol to vet cabinet documents sought by the Defence counsel, and replaced it with Allan Seckel, then Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Seckel, Gordon Campbell said, would consult with the Special Prosecutor, William Berardino. Mr. Seckel and Mr. Berardino had been partners and colleagues in private practice for eleven years. Mr. Seckel had worked on the election campaign of Geoff Plant who became Attorney General, and not long after that Allan Seckel was appointed Deputy Attorney General.
The action of Gordon Campbell – entering the judicial process – stank to high heaven, and underscored the mess “the Crown” was in.
The Special Prosecutor (1) in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case was wrongfully appointed in violation of the legislation governing appointment. (2) Therefore, he could not act. (3) If he were to act, as he did in the case, the trial had to be illegitimate – and it was. (4) Since it was illegitimate, the charges which he organized and placed against the three accused were without legal force. (5) All of the accused, all three, were, therefore, subjected to a pre-trial and trial process that was improper and without validity. (6) And so Basi and Virk “do not deserve to spend a single day under house arrest, let alone the two years less a day they were sentenced to last week under a guilty plea bargain agreement ….”
Why won’t Bill Tieleman and the other writers for the mainstream press and media point that out? It provides indisputable proof of Mr. Tieleman’s main point.
The whole process from the beginning has - it is estimated – cost nearly 20 million dollars … almost all of it without legitimacy because the Special Prosecutor was wrongfully appointed.
My friend Bill Tieleman doesn’t fill in the canvas. He – and the whole corps of Mainstream Press and Media people - ignore the fact that the assistant Deputy Attorney General, the Attorney General, the Chief Justice and Associate Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, the government appointed Reviewer of the Special Prosecutor appointment system, Stephen Owen, and the investigator for the Canadian Judicial Council - Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench - ALL lied, ducked out, equivocated, made empty excuses, or refused altogether to acknowledge the fact of William Berardino’s wrongful appointment.
All of the people from the Mainstream Press and Media refuse even to refer to the fact that the presiding judge, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, was fully informed that the Special Prosecutor was wrongfully in the courtroom … and she would do nothing whatever to inform the jury of the fact or to remedy the situation.
Had the Mainstream Press and Media done their work fairly on that matter, the whole course of the trial in the last six months might have been completely different … and much, much better as far as achieving some measure of justice is concerned. The Mainstream Press and Media – many observers, I am sure believe - constitute a major part of the sell-out of justice in the BC Rail Scandal and the matters involving the three accused men. Their coverage of the Basi,Virk, and Basi case has been obscene.
There are those who say the role of the Mainstream Press and Media at the present time is to work for Private Corporate Capital and to sell out the people of the country. That seems to be what happened here.
Bill Tieleman is correct in his headline that says: “Media quick to close the book”. He suggests they closed it after the trial. They closed it long before the end of the trial, as I have just shown. Moreover, instead of challenging the police investigation from the start of the pre-trial hearings four years ago … the press equivocated, as Mr. Tieleman does in his expert summary. Even now, he will only write about “the astonishing disregard for good judgement repeatedly demonstrated by the RCMP”.
The more than three years of pre-trial hearings, I insist, gave every indication that there should have been a deep and total RCMP investigation of the major actors in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR – up to and including Gordon Campbell. I asked RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass for that investigation … and he refused.
There still should be that investigation– and the Mainstream Press and Media refuse to say so. They fail … and fail … and fail.
The pre-trial hearings, I believe, revealed the RCMP stalling, delaying, shadow-boxing, giving every indication the Force was attempting to obstruct the process. I believe that would be the conclusion of any reasonable and prudent British Columbian attending.
The aborted “trial” of the three men, which followed, revealed key actors who hardly dared answer a single direct question. Martyn Brown and Brian Kenning looked so bad … I believe … desperation fell upon the Campbell group. I believe that group decided they had to do almost anything to close up the trial. We know what happened….
It must be said … and not a single member of the Mainstream Press and Media will say it. The actions of the RCMP in the whole matter of the BC Rail Scandal give the appearance – I believe that would be the conclusion of any reasonable British Columbian who observed the legal process – of being devoted to covering-up for the major actors in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR, to confusing the real sequence of events and the scope of wrong-doing, to acting on behalf of highly suspect persons, and to co-operating in the concentration upon certain allegations against the three men accused.
Bill Tieleman underscores the dubiousness of the trial by emphasizing the strange set of events when then-Finance Minister Gary Collins met Dwight Johnson and Pat Broe from bidder OmniTRAX at the famous Villa del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver in December of 2003. Mr. Tieleman points to the offer of a “consolation prize” to OmniTRAX for staying in the bidding process for BC Rail. The reference is contained in the “statement of facts” which the accused agreed to that forms the basis of their reduced conviction. The reference to the “consolation prize” is there in the statement, it seems, specifically so that the accused can sign a statement exempting Gary Collins from any part in offering it.
What Mr. Tieleman doesn’t say is Defence argued in pre- trial hearings that Gary Collins was under “investigation”, and that investigation (after the December 12 meeting at Villa del Lupo) was dropped, and that there is no available record of an order to end investigation. As I remember, the presiding judge accepted those allegations by Defence as reasonable and said there must be record of the termination of the investigation of Gary Collins … somewhere. If so, it has never seen the light of day.
An investigation of top government figures in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR appears to have been begun … and closed down sharply. Every representative of the Mainstream Press and Media should be on their hind legs demanding that investigation be re-opened and pursued to the last tiny shred of evidence.
Okay, Mr. Tieleman, over to you and the others in the Mainstream Press and Media.
Thank you for your kind words about Robin Mathews. We are SO lucky to have him with us.
About the Defence failing to challenge the Berardino appointment ... many of us, including Robin, have tried to understand why that challenge didn't happen. It was a missed opportunity to get a fresh start on the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial.
Ontario uses the same approach of seeking their Special Prosecutors from another province, for trials which are politically sensitive. Richard Peck was the last BC lawyer I can remember, who was called to Toronto to act as a Special Prosecutor. It makes sense.
So why was Bill Berardino tolerated -- especially by Defence -- when he appears to have active alliances with key figures in government?
Next puzzling question: where is the federal watch-dog empowered to root out this kind of mistake before serious damage is done (like the loss of the nation's 3rd largest railway)?
You have to wonder why the Special Prosecutor procedure (invented in BC) was rejected ... unless it was a desperate effort to achieve the conclusion which we saw enacted on Oct. 18, 2010.
But then, even so, why didn't Defence challenge that? Or was it used cynically, behind the scenes, as a bargaining chip for negotiating the terms of surrender?
Well, why do bishops protect child molesting priests? Why are doctors so reluctant to be critical of other doctors except in the most egregious circumstances. Annie Mack, Wild Bill and the entire defense team are all members of the same "brotherhood" (the bar) and harming justice or even clients is nothing compared to being a traitor to the brotherhood.
As long as Bolton, MacCullough and the other defense clients were being looked after for their silence - to bring up matters of serious breaches of justice would queer the deal. After all, other than not being "power players" anymore none of the accused, or now convicted defendants have experienced much loss in quality of life style. Basi still owns multiple homes etc., his children don't seem to live in poverty like so many children in Kampbell's paradise. In spite of being "unemployed" for the last seven years and running up millions in legal expenses they still live a life style that would be the envy of many of the people of BC who unfortunately don't have information that could put the dear leader and his minions in prison or at least out of office.
BC's entire system of checks and balances has dissolved like a corpse in a barrel of lye, and as a result our rights as citizens to information, to protection and to justice have also disappeared. The caustic lye in this case is self-interest of the self-regulating classes. I'm speaking of doctors, lawyers (judges are just lawyers who got promoted by the party in power), nurses, police and now civil servants.
Why do police protect each other, and harm innocent members of the public who need their assistance? Why do nurses blame elderly nursing home residents for assaulting them, but never admit that any abuse of residents occurs at the hands of so-called health "care" providers?
Here are just a couple of stories about such abhorrent behaviour by our so-called public bodies that briefly got a glimmer of media exposure, and which were then quickly forgotten:
* Take the Public Guardian and Trustee whose employees have stolen huge sums of money from the people who they're supposed to be acting as trustee for, or the PGT staff who trashed people's homes like common criminals supposedly looking for evidence of fraud and deception by the elderly person's appointed representative, or the PGT staff who seized the joint bank account of an elderly couple because the man wanted to take his wife out of a "care" facility to have her live in their own home with private home care. By the way, most of the PGT senior staff are lawyers.
* Why did the BC Supreme Court in January 2010 grant a court order to the Interior Health Authority to BAN FOREVER a video taken by a hidden camera of staff abusing an elderly man in a care facility, and include in the court order, that no one – nobody period, not just those involved with this case, not a single person on earth – is permitted to even DESCRIBE what the video shows. Why? As the spokesperson for the Internal Health Authority said, the reason they applied for the court order to ban the video was "to protect staff privacy."
Continued in next posting
Something went wrong with your final posting ... I tried to accept it twice, but each time got a Blogger-message saying they were unable to publish it.
Maybe if you tried again ... ?
BC's entire system of checks and balances has dissolved like a corpse in a barrel of lye
In BC, of course, the more appropriate idiom would be "in a hog wallow".
But BC never had a system of checks and balances. The only check on politicians' misconduct in the inherited British parliamentary system was this thing called "honour"....but for the honour system to operate, politicians (and bureaucrats, including judges and police) need a sense of shame. And they have none.
All that happened in 1871 was the colonial autocratic system was merged into the existing Canadian post-colonial autocratic system, and Victoria given as long a leash as interminable miles of distance and countless intervening mountains would allow.
It's operated on bribes and insider deals and old-boys-networks and nepotism since Day One. The "liberal" politicians of the 1860s assailed Governor Douglas and his legacy as autocratic; really they did little to reform the system but coopted his autocratic system to their own devices - including giving all their friends contracts for resources and government services. There was never a semblance of democracy in British Columbia, other than in turbulent transitions before the party system was brought in by the Tories in '03, and also when blocs of MLAs played musical chairs with, first, the founding of the Coalition and, second, its messy dissolution in 1952.
The Canadian dictum about "peace, order and good government" is not about democracy; it's about maintaing the order, and government on behalf of the Big Money. Peace by muzzling, order to keeping all the ducks in a row, "good government" meaning only efficient handling of scandalous behaviour.....
Checks and balances we haven't had since Trudeau took the Law Lords out of the line of appeal.....
"A judge is just a lawyer who knows somebody important"
... No one in the media, or in the government, or in advocacy groups is dealing with the systemic abuses perpetrated by BC’s public bodies and agencies. [ There's one sole, shining exception: Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the embattled Children's Commissioner. ] For everything else, all we get (if we're lucky) are isolated, occasional stories in the media, but there are many, many more people whose horrific stories are never permitted to see the light of day.
The Ombudsperson, Kim Carter, launched an inquiry into seniors health care in BC over two years ago (and STILL hasn't released her report) said last week in a CBC interview that her office is just a "backup" body to go to, that people's concerns will be dealt with by all the various committees and panels that the government has put in place to deal with health care complaints.
“Earth to Kim Carter: The reason that people flocked to your office looking desperately for help was precisely because those same myriad government agencies and bodies failed to address the complaints of elderly residents of care homes and/or their loved ones.”
So, hear the Ombudsperson loud and clear folks, she's telegraphing that her final report will be a whitewash. Bet on it. By the way, Kim Carter was interviewed on CBC Radio because of another story of institutional “care” facility abuse of an elderly person revealed a couple weeks ago:
The Ombudsperson's sole comment on that story was that it was "unfortunate". That's it. Boy, them are some teeth she's got, eh? So why wouldn't the Ombudsperson go to bat for the public, like she's supposed to? Answer: SHE'S A LAWYER.
A few years ago, the Ombudsperson's office had launched an inquiry into the myriad complaints received about lawyers and ...
...to be continued in next posting
A few years ago, the Ombudsperson's office had launched an inquiry into the myriad complaints received about lawyers and about the Law Society of BC. However, shortly after Gordon Campbell was elected, the government pulled the funding for the inquiry, and the inquiry was cancelled. How convenient. How easy. How frightening.
Someone told me the other day that we don't have a justice system in BC, we have a legal system. I'd go further: We don't have a legal system in BC, we have a "lawyer system".
Lawyers write the rules (i.e. laws), they can break them, apparently at will, and they thumb their noses at anyone who dares to call them to account. Many (most?) politicians are lawyers, most big business operates with lawyers as their point person on all activity, lawyers rule... and they're ruling in their own self-interest always – to a person, with very, very, very few exceptions.
It's no wonder that a couple years ago, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain all abolished self-regulation of the legal profession. It's time Canada did the same. It's a farce to believe that just because lawyers (or doctors for that matter) managed to pass some exams that they are superior moral beings who would never transgress. Give me a f***g break!
Before anyone counters the above paragraph by saying that, just in the past year the BC government put boards and bodies in place to oversee professional groups in health care (e.g. doctor's union (BCMA), professional "colleges" like nursing, social workers, etc.) The media releases made it sound like these boards would "ride herd" on discredited self-regulated groups like doctors and nurses, and social workers. Another of BC's "we're ahead of the curve!" public relations announcements.
LET ME SAY THIS: That's all it is, a PR ploy, a grand, deceptive smokescreen designed to fool the public and bury complaints without adequate resolution. It's another one of Gordo's grand PR excretions that will result in no meaningful change or improvement, and in fact will make things much worse.
The people appointed to these bodies just collect complaints and toss them around in the air before tossing them out with the trash.
And, these APPOINTEES also collect handsome monetary compensation for sitting on these bodies. It's another trick being played on the public to make it look like something good is being done.
These are very dark times for BC.
The Campbell “administration” is like a neutron bomb, it’s destroyed BC from within, and while most don’t realize it yet, we have only a hollowed-out shell left.
The only light I see – and it's a strong one – is the blogging community, filled with good, decent, caring people who want their province back, their lives back, and to live in a society in which they can be proud. They are the ones investing their time in finding out what's going on, and making their voices heard.
Mr. Rodell studied law under a number of lawyers who became household names, sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States and such and published this small but valuble volume in 1939 when he was a Law Professor at Yale.
Here is an excerpt from his preface concerning his legal education.
No lawyer will like this book. It isn’t written for lawyers. It is written for the average man and its purpose is to try to plant in his head, at the least, a seed of skepticism about the whole legal profession, its works and its ways.
Thurman Arnold, now Assistant Attorney-General of the United States; Charles E. Clark, now Judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; William O’ Douglas, now Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; Felix Frankfurter, now Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; Leon Green, now Dean of the Northwestern University Law School; Walton Hamilton, Professor of Law at Yale University; Harold Laski, Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics; Richard Joyce Smith, now a practicing attorney in New York City; Wesley Sturges, now Director of the Distilled Spirits Institute; and the late Lee Tulin.
By the time I got through law school, I had decided that I never wanted to practice law. I never have. I am not a member of any bar. If anyone should want, not unreasonably, to know what on earth I am doing – or trying to do – teaching law, he may find a hint of the answer toward the end of Chapter IX."
A downloadable version in rich text format can be found here: