â€“adjective 1. guilty of dishonest practices, as bribery; lacking integrity; crooked: a corrupt judge.
2. debased in character; depraved; perverted; wicked; evil: a corrupt society.
3. made inferior by errors or alterations, as a text.
4. infected; tainted.
5. decayed; putrid.
October 18th is already a date that is emblazoned in my mind, for personal reasons, yet in an odd quirk of serendipity, this year it was also the day everyone appeared, grandly dressed and ready to be surprised, to hear the allegedly shocking admission of guilt by the accused in the Basi-Virk trial.
I’ll be honest.When I read the email from a friend in the MSM yesterday morning, I was so momentarily taken aback by his words that goose-flesh covered my skin, which were immediately replaced by a feeling of intense heat. Enraged, I tossed my pen across the room.
While clearly we all knew this could happen, might happen, I hoped beyond hope that these two men would stand firm in their NOW, apparently not-so-firm convictions of innocence, and assist the public in revealing the truth of the depth of corruption within the BC Liberal government.
It was not to be. There would be no titillating revelations in courtroom 54, there would be no tanked careers, no embarrassing facts of evidence presented before the jury, and by nature, all of you.
The two defendants would appear to be susceptible to whatever influences came before them to entice or dissuade.One wonders what it would take to change the minds of men who stood firm for 7 years, who defiantly claimed their innocence and repeatedly said they were only acting on the orders of other, higher officials. 7 years of work down the drain, bought and sold in a deal I suspect we will never be party to said details.
All said, I will not linger long on the tragic decision of Basi and Virk, because in all truth I know much will be continually covered by BC Mary, the Queen of the Bloggers, Bill Tieleman, Ian Reid and Gazeteer, among others. In truth, Basi and Virk are relatively minor, somewhat inconsequential players in a grand game far more superior and powerful than them. There are far bigger fish to fry, and I am quite hungry from an extended absence from this blog. Like setting a night line to catch a ling cod, patience is a virtue, and I set my lines within the MOT long ago, content to sit and tug occasionally to see what appeared at the end. I suspect a feast will be in order shortly.
Contrary to what our Premier would say, the sale of BC Rail was riddled with corruption. Inflammatory statement, to be sure, but one I am confidant to stand behind, as are many others. We may not hear what evidence there is to prove this in a courtroom, but certainly now you will continue to read and see evidence presented online, in the courtroom of public opinion. The list of blogs to the left of my site will provide you with many links that will continue to bring this evidence into the public domain, because this story is far from over.
I am by, not an expert on this case and the sale of BC rail, but I have done a fair bit of digging and searching along with fellow bloggers and interested parties. I have read the entirety of Yvette Well’s notebooks, in fact, I still have the contents, in paper, to read with a short, neat glass of scotch at night. Quite damning, I would say, along with the countless emails and messages that show clearly others knew of the tainted bidding process.
I have also had years of access to a vacation home on the exclusive Savary Island’s ‘front row’ , the location of an “alleged”, clandestine meeting of those involved in the sale, often referred to in questioning in courtroom 54 during the short but oh so revealing trial proceedings. Gossip is the currency of choice among some on that coveted island, and on an island that small it is hard to hide anything.
But let us move on now, for there is much that the corrupt sale of BC Rail we can learn from, in fact, about corruption itself, and about corruption within the BC Liberal government. Indeed, from what I have seen, it is the mere tip of the proverbial iceberg, and only gives a glimpse to the depth of the rot within several ministries.
Here in Canada, Quebec generally comes first to mind when conversation about government corruption begins. True enough,Quebec – and Montreal in particular has been long fighting a seemingly losing battle against government corruption and allegations of organized crime involvement in public projects. In speaking with a french friend of mine recently, he marvelled that in Quebec, nearly every Liberal candidate faced allegations of corruption in some manner – yet was still elected!
The question to be asked then, is Quebec really so unique? Is it truly possible that it is the only government that has been infiltrated, manipulated by organized crime?
For one to think that Quebec is the only province to face such scandal or that it is unique in its rampant government corruption, is foolhardy. Funny enough, this statement brings us right back to the Basi- Virk trial, which initially began with an investigation into organised crime that had allegedly infiltrated the legislature. A statement, that seen in archived video last night on the news, was quickly recanted shortly after it was made. ( reminds me of the swift handling of the CSIS allegations of Chinese control on BC politicians made earlier this year)
” Nope, not true, certainly not. We did not mean to infer this, blah, blah, PR crisis mode , blah, blah “
Remarkable, is it not, that such important officers and officials could possibly make such unequivocal statements, on television no less, and then try saying it was an error…
No, I can unequivocably state that no longer does Quebec hold the sole reign on corruption… but I do think it is safe to say that they simply have more journalists,editors and publishers willing to explore and expose it. Rarely have I read an article on the topic here in BC, and if there is one bit of necessary writing that I could direct anyone to, it would be this Macleans article titled:
Written by Jason Kirby and Nancy Mcdonald in 2008, it is a 6 page, detailed look at organized crime in BC, and why the province has become such a player in what used to be an eastern provincial industry. Quotes:
According to police, 40 per cent of all murders in the Lower Mainland are now tied to organized crime. For Vancouver’s law-abiding citizens, the increasingly brazen public executions near schools and in posh neighbourhoods have gotten too close for comfort…
But the carnage on the streets is only the most obvious sign organized crime has infiltrated everyday life…
Things get far murkier once you start to examine the fuzzy line between B.C.’s criminal and legitimate economies. One car dealer in Vancouver told the National Post a few years ago that a quarter of his business involved selling luxury cars for cash to those involved in the drug trade…
… number of factors help explain why B.C. has become such a hotbed of criminal activity. The U.S. border is just minutes from Metro Vancouver, offering ready access to that market. And the province’s ports are among the busiest in the world. Last year the RCMP told the Senate committee on national security and defence that Indo-Canadian and Asian gangs, as well as the Hells Angels, were very active at the Port of Vancouver. Due to limited resources police warned they could only tackle 30 per cent of the criminal activity taking place on the docks. When a new deepwater port opened last year in Prince Rupert, business leaders cheered because it would shave days off the trip between Asia and the eastern U.S. So did the criminals. “B.C. hasn’t grasped publicly the size and the effect the Pacific Gateway program is going to have on B.C. and North America,” says Kiloh. “The projections about the depth of crime that’s going to come just from that are absolutely staggering.” ( highlighted by myself)
…As organized crime flexes its muscles in the province, many fear the inevitable outcome will be corruption on a massive scale. “There has to be people on the take across the spectrum,” says Robert Gordon, head of the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. “From time to time you see little signals.”
“There’s been no indication Canadian police have been compromised or that politicians or judges have been bought, but it’s hard to imagine these kinds of flows of money without that happening,” says Stephen Easton, an economics professor at Simon Fraser University.
My point exactly. BC has long been the arrival and departure point for a variety of evils we may rather forget exist in this world. Most of it does has little to do with you or I, unless you happen to find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. And right now, you may be wondering what this has to do with corruption in government, so let me explain.
In Italy, it is no secret that organized crime finds its way into public projects. Several years ago, Italian police laid charges with respect to allegations of organized crime to win a bid on a large P3 bridge project over the Strait of Messina. Had it been successful, it likely would have been the largest money-laundering effort in some time. And interestingly enough, there was a direct Canadian connection.
In Quebec, organized crime has dogged the construction industry for years. In fact, Ottawa has just commissioned the first comprehensive study of the problem, despite active protest from provincial and municipal politicians alike.
The federal government has quietly commissioned a study of a Canadian construction industry mired by allegations of political cronyism and infiltration by organized crime.
The move comes after the federal and Quebec governments as well as Montreal’s administration were sideswiped over the past year by stories alleging impropriety in the industry
It also comes after a year in which politicians at all levels have steadfastly stonewalled demands for a public inquiry.
Quebec and Montreal have been saddled with allegations of intimidation, bid-rigging, inflated contracts, construction cartels and organized crime involvement.
Interestingly enough, the article also mentions the RCMP probe into a $9 million government renovation project involving a bankrupt construction firm and a Tory organizer – in Ottawa!
Clearly, not even our nations capital is immune from corruption, but again, is it plausible to think that our British Columbian Liberal administration have been completely immune to insidious influences? I’m not saying conclusively that organized crime or foreign influence is involved in any BC public projects, but what I am saying is that why is no one looking at what is going on here in BC? After all, corruption comes in many forms, and not just in terms of the presence of organized crime. There can be collusion and conspiracy, or bid-rigging, construction cartels, and corporate nepotism which is basically a form of favouritism to one particular company based on personal friendship or business relationships. And please don’t forget the exchange of large political donations for contracts, which technically is hard to prove in a court of law without precise supporting documentation and evidence, but happens frequently nonetheless. Buying influence through donations is no less corrupt than anything else, although it seems to be a completely acceptable practice, although often denied as merely ” coincidental “.
The construction industry in B.C. is replete with massive,public projects undertaken since the Liberals came into power, many of which I have scrutinized in detail following allegations made to myself of ongoing ” irregular bidding practices “, both of which would appear to be supported by my research into cases in which the MOT has been involved.
However, since the ministries involved fight disclosure of bid-related information tooth and nail, no one has yet been able to delve into the fine details of some of the most dubious projects, such as the Port Mann bridge. Information that is released on Freedom of information requests is often heavily redacted and provides little if any understanding, and this is alarming for several reasons. Until the public at large knows the details of what happened, why it happened, and the terms of the agreement, how can we be assured of any accountability for our tax dollars?
Secrecy and lack of transparency in government are two cornerstones that pave the way for corruption to sprout and blossom, as evidenced in the landmark case of Tercon vs. British Columbia and MOT. This important case I uncovered and wrote about extensively earlier this year, is quite indicative to how the province does business – corruptly, and in this case, fraudulently and with rife deception.
Rogue civil servants indeed – ha! In the case of Tercon, the key players went onto long and lucrative careers within the BC government and the private sector – the reaping the benefits of obtaining government contracts in what I believe are classic examples of corporate nepotism within the BC Liberal government. If you have not, you must read the above link and the backgrounders, which demonstrates exactly how those ” rogue civil servants” get their start.
Another aspect of how the BC Liberals like to demonstrate their lack of regard for transparency ( one of those cornerstones of corruption) is how they have increasing taken such an interest in public-private partnerships (P3’s), even in an economy where using the P3 model has delivered higher costs and additional risks, such as the Port Mann Bridge fiasco.
Last year, a damning report was released that confirmed the legitimate concerns surrounding the P3 model preferred and endorsed by Campbell and his team of Liberals,for BC’s largest projects:
VANCOUVER-In a report released today, B.C.’s most respected forensic accountant, Ron Parks, along with his colleague Rosanne Terhart, find that public private partnerships (P3s) are costly for taxpayers.
They also find a consistent pro-privatization bias in the way that the B.C. government (through Partnerships BC) compares costs when assessing major projects. On top of this, the B.C. government is routinely denying access to critical information, which limits the public’s ability to know that its interests are protected on P3 projects.
Parks and Terhart evaluated four P3 projects: the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre, the Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement, the Academic Ambulatory Care Centre (Diamond Centre) and the Canada Line. Based on this review, they find that developing the projects as P3s is more expensive than if they were done publicly.
In the case of the Diamond Centre – they report that the actual nominal cost of a P3 was more than double that of a publicly procured project.
Secretive, biased and expensive. Pretty strong words when used in reference to the way a government who claims to be open and transparent is doing business, and extremely relevant to keep in mind when watching Premier Campbell smugly maligning Basi and Virk on TV and in print as rogue civil servants who acted on their own.
And important to keep in mind when thinking of the large, most often international corporations that are getting our public works projects. If one digs a little deeper, one often finds information like this :
German contractor Hochtief A.G., ranked the world’s largest contractor based on revenue outside its home country, is considering a Sept. 16 buyout offer from Madrid-based construction giant Grupo ACS. The Spanish firm, which is Hochtief’s largest shareholder with a nearly 30% stake, has offered $72.70 per share for the remaining shares, valued at $3.5 billion. Hochtief owns two U.S. contractors, Turner Construction Co., New York City, and Flatiron Construction Corp., Longmont, Colo. ACS acquired 25.1% of Hochtief for $1.65 billion in 2007. ACS, which also owns Spanish contractor Dragados, has acquired U.S. contractors Schiavone Construction, John Picone and Pulice
( Again, I am certainly not saying organized crime is involved with ACS or the SFPR, however it is interesting, if nothing else, to note even the most remote connections of two companies that makes up part of the Fraser Transportation Group. )
I believe we have a come to a point in British Columbia, where the general public is finally, genuinely aware of the implications of electing officials without due care and regard. Of the further implications of turning a blind eye in acceptance without asking questions and demanding answers. In the long run, I doubt they will draw any distinction between the various types or level of corruption, because it is what we have come to expect from public officials and politicians and we have allowed it to continue for so long.
In my opinion, corruption is corruption no matter how you serve it up, and it is the continued and marked absence of appropriate and assured accountability that is at the root of a majority of the scandals and allegations confronted by the BC liberals. It would appear to be, that the more powerful one in within this administration, the less accountable they are required to be , and premier Campbell sets the standard by far.
As long as the government fails to create and adhere to an accountability model that really works, as long as they police themselves with no regard to public transparency, we will have corruption to various degrees, at all levels of government.
What is particularly disturbing to me, is that the Campbell government has repeatedly and actively sought to block fact-finding inquiries made by those wishing to uncover and reveal the abuses of power that have occurred in the 10 years of Campbell’s ‘Golden Decade’ – as we just witnessed by Campbell’s refusal to initiate a public inquiry into the BC Rail sale. ( I often wonder if Campbell calls it the Golden decade because so many of his colleagues and friends lined their pockets immensely while he has ruled the province!)
Sadly, corruption is as human as the desire for love. There will be no remedy to any of it unless someone consistently and forcefully challenges both the cynicism of the public, and systematic degradation of our political process and justice system. Governance for the purpose of illegitimate and illicit power and dominance is as reprehensible as the ideology that begets it – a lesson every political party in this province would do well to take to heart if they want to win over an electorate whose political cynicism is at an all time high.
” The accomplice to the crime of CORRUPTION is frequently our own indifference.”
( Now, if you want to read something really, really corrupt, head over to Creekside, where Alison has the details on the gag order Basi and Virk had to sign in order to get that multi-million dollar legal costs reprieve from the government….. http://creekside1.blogspot.com/2010/10/bc-rail-trial-6m-buys-whole-lot-of.html If that isn’t a pay – off of the most corrupt kind,I don’t know what is )