Bits and Bites – SPECIAL B.C. RAIL EDITION – Wednesday June 24th, 2009:

 ~  In a shocking revelation heard in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday, George Copley (Lawyer for the Premier and Cabinet) said that the  4 years of emails requested by the defence as evidence in the BC Rail case, cannot be found and may have been erased - despite the fact that the law requires them to be kept for 7 years. The back – up tapes are gone.  The government alleges that nothing remains, and certainly for the Premier and other government officials whose communications had been requested, it could not have been a more convenient, or timely, disappearance… ~ 

Full stories from Mark Hume ( Globe and Mail) and Bill Tieleman( 24 hours and The Tyee )

Imagine a court case so replete with allegations of  government corruption and  corporate misconduct that some people are beginning to compare to Watergate.

A court case with the very real potential of exposing an entire administration to the minute examination of the courts.  Accusations of bribes, backroom deals, secret handshakes and whispered meetings have revealed long-standing and deep political connections and influence between corporate movers and shakers and high ranking politicians.

Sounds like a real political thriller, no? When you go back to what started it all, the circle is complete. I’m talking about the privatization of BC Rail, which some call the most corrupt deal the province has ever seen. (  for the most complete all-in-one rundown of the case and it’s players read this article by Bill Tieleman:” Railgate : A to Z “

Let us not forget that it was a drug and organized crime investigation that led to a raid on the BC Legislature right before New Year’s Eve in 2003, where boxes and other materials where taken away by RCMP. An excerpt from this piece by Robin Mathews tells the  tale:

“…A 20-month investigation by Victoria police and RCMP began to move like a juggernaut.  First a drug investigation, it became a commercial crime investigation, too, and then it landed in the legislature. 

The investigation became so hydra-headed RCMP gave it the name “every-which-way”.  A key contact point in the legislature was, apparently, wire-taps on the telephone used by Dave Basi, powerful aide to the Gary Collins, Minister of Finance.

And, then, on December 28, 2003, search warrants were put in action to “raid” offices of the B.C. legislature, many homes, and offices in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island.  A year later Dave Basi, Bob Virk, and Aneal Basi were charged variously with counts of fraud, breach of trust, and money laundering.

On a BCTV program, December 29, 2003, Keith Baldrey recorded that “Bob Virk [is] in Transportation….  Transportation is  … responsible for the BC Rail initiative and Finance had a larger role … than most … and that’s again where Dave Basi comes in.”

Almost all the other people visited or searched as a result of the warrants – many connected to both the Gordon Campbell and federal Liberals – have had the search warrants involving them all-but blanked out, as protection.  Christie Clark, minister of education and deputy premier, was in line to have her home raided it is alleged.  But it is alleged that Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm reasoned with police to have them telephone in advance and make an appointment to visit. Thoughtful of him.

The “something” that happened obviously galvanized the Campbell forces.  The BC Rail sellout had hit what might be a network involving drug crime, breach of trust by public officers, bribery, money laundering, and perhaps much more. All of it might, perhaps surround, involve, connect to, and be part of – who knows? – the corrupt sale of BC Rail…”

 Those two  BC Liberal government aides  who where charged with breach of trust and fraud – Basi and Virk –  for ( allegedly) giving confidential government documents to a lobbyist representing a bidder in the BC Rail sale, have spent the last few years waiting for the lawyers to wade through thousands of documents in the pre-trial stage.

Which brings us to where we are now – the missing and presumably erased emails, some of which belonged to Premier Gordon Campbell and were to be used as evidence in the trial. NDP public safety critic Mike Farnsworth says that the fact the emails are ” missing” is suspicious, and was quoted in this CBC story as saying: ” Either it’s just gross incompetence or a deliberate attempt to pervert the course of justice.”

The defence  lawyer for Dave Basi asserts that the emails would in fact, clear his clients name, and would prove that his client was acting on orders from higher up – a likelihood I  fully support after having read through some of the 8000 documents released to the NDP earlier this year on a FOI request. 

Remember the incriminating notes in the notebooks of Yvette Wells that I blogged about back in March ? A gem that speaks volumes to the backroom politics and dubious nature involved in the entire deal…….

 Yvettee Wells  was the  Executive Director of the Crown AgenciesSecretariat at the time of the sale. The Secretariat is responsible for the accountability of  crown corporations, so keeping that in mind, it could be said that she was basically the person to oversee the accountability of the entire BC Rail sale  in her position. She would very much have been the “go-to” person of preference to reference anything to do with the ongoing negotiations.

Her notebooks were released because of the relevance of the information within them to the entire BC Rail deal, and they do not disappoint. Among all the hundreds of pages that I read through, the following excerpt clears any question as to the fairness of the bidding process for me. 

“dilema :

          - don’t want to mislead other bidders

           – don’t want to tell them CN are getting other info -  don’t want them to do work, spend $

           - don’t want them to drop out b/c if can’t resolve issues- we may go back to other bidders.

           -  CN got data from CIBC that they shouldn’t ” 

October 22, 2003 notes

It may be argued that these notes are nothing, but if the woman in charge of overseeing the deal is making notes about how to play some of the  bidders to keep them happy and hide the fact that CN was given information that they shouldn’t have, it is not a far off reach to believe Basi and Virk were operating on orders from higher up.

Which makes me wonder exactly what was contained in those missing emails from the Premier and co ? What little gems would those emails have revealed ?

 And speaking of the Premier, what does he have to say about the timely and suspicious disappearance of potential evidence that by all rights, should have been protected by law for 7 years?

 “The records that should be kept under the law have been kept,” & “I don’t know even what they are referring to,” -  Vancouver Sun

Emails are kept appropriately across government when it is a document that has specific relevance to, you know, government’s activity. It’s maintained,” – CBC

I’m not going to be talking about that,” – Globe and Mail

Campbell’s office said the premier would not be commenting while the case is before the courts.”The Province

Ha!

However, in admitting the emails were missing and perhaps  even deleted intentionally, the government may have opened an even bigger can of worms, because such an action like this would not and could not have happened without an order from someone with a sizable amount of authority.  

 Going back pver the past 5 years, to the investigation that started it all and all the pre-trial allegations and revelations that have happened since , who in their right mind would delete these records?

Think about it.

Consider the potential ramifications if the contents did reveal  that the accused were acting on orders from within the goverment when handing over confidential documents…

 It could mean the end to several political careers and the kind of scandal that  follows a person for life. Government corruption at the highest levels. Bribery. Deceit. The revelations that those entrusted with the administration of the provinces assets have been conning us all along.

I’ll leave you with this excerpt from Gary Mason’s column in the Globe and Mail.

” As big a scandal as the raid on the legislature was, the destruction of these e-mails could be much bigger.

It all depends on where the search for the person who gave the order to have the files wiped out takes us.

And a search there must be.”

( for the complete history and ongoing developments including court dates, links and rousing, thought provoking editorials, etc - head on over to the only complete resource blog documenting everything surrounding the sale of BC Rail – The Legislature Raids

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4 Responses to Bits and Bites – SPECIAL B.C. RAIL EDITION – Wednesday June 24th, 2009:

  1. ” … allegations of government corruption and corporate misconduct that some people are beginning to compare to Watergate … ”

    No, no, nothing so American, perish the thought. No, this is just like the drunken old crook John A and the CPR Scandal. Cue the drunken a-hole Gordie Stinkfoot ’cause this one’s Proudly Canerdian. ;-P

  2. Salvatore Bennedetto says:

    Gonna need a program to keep track of all this pretty soon.

  3. Gary L. says:

    A reasonable person would ask after this Raid occured did Christy Clarke, Gary Collins, and Judith Reid clean out their desks and RUN to the nearest Exit? I am not a reasonable person, therefore I won’t ask.
    It is an undeniable fact that it is never an alleged crime, but the cover-up that brings down the Players EVERY time, so stay tuned folks, it’s just a matter of time……………………………….. you can run and cover, but you cannot hide.
    Cheers

  4. Laila says:

    It would appear that a reasonable person would ask that question Gary, i’m thinking someone should be asking Mrs. Marissen all about this on her open line.

    I think she would be a great pinch-hitter for CKNW to cover the hearings, don’t you? The view only a political insider like herself can give. Maybe she can even have Gary and Judy on as guest commenters..lol….

    Stupid move, deleting the emails. Much too hard to try and explain that one, considering what we know now about how much time they’ve had to produce them, not to mention the history of the infamous RAID, where some members, including Gordon Campbell, knew for some time the raid was going to happen.

    I wonder how much shredding was going on during those pre-raid days, hmmm?

    BC Mary has some great comments under her latest posts you should check out if you havent already.

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