Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Basi-Virk case key crown witness Erik Bornmann was guest at Canadian state luncheons for Chinese, Mexican Presidents in September 2005

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday February 6, 2007

A strange guest

By BILL TIELEMAN

The art of being a good guest is to know when to leave.

- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Erik Bornmann, the crown's key witness against ex-provincial government aides David Basi and Bob Virk in their bribery trial, was a guest at official Canadian state luncheons in Vancouver for Chinese President Hu Jiantao and Mexican President Vicente Fox in September 2005, 24 hours has learned.

Police allege that Bornmann provided compensation to Basi and Virk in exchange for confidential government documents about the $1 billion BC Rail privatization deal in 2003. Bornmann was a lobbyist for OmniTRAX, one of the bidders.

Bornmann's Vancouver home and the office of his Victoria lobby firm, Pilothouse Public Affairs, were searched by police on Dec. 28, 2003, the same day they searched the B.C. Legislature.
In April 2005, 24 hours first disclosed that Bornmann had become the key Crown witness against Basi and Virk.

Former Liberal Party of Canada B.C. Chief of Staff Mike Witherly told 24 hours he was unaware why Bornmann was in attendance at both events, hosted by then-Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, or who invited him.

"No. I don't know. It was a large process," said Witherly, the former Chief of Staff for the LPC BC office who had also served as Martin's senior B.C. political advisor. Questioned further, Witherly only replied: "It was a large process."

Bornmann was a key organizer in B.C. for Martin's Liberal leadership campaign and a former LPC B.C. executive member.

Bornmann attended the luncheon for Chinese President Jintao on Sept 17, 2005 and Mexican President Fox on Sept 30, 2005. Both were held at the Westin Bayshore.

There also remain unanswered questions about Jamie Elmhirst, who resigned last month as LPC B.C. president but was subpoenaed to testify in the Basi-Virk case on Oct. 4, 2006.

Elmhirst was business partners in Pilothouse with Bornmann and Brian Kieran, who is also scheduled to testify for the crown against Basi, Virk in the April 2 trial.

Mark Grant, LPC B.C. Executive Director, told 24 hours by e-mail that the state luncheons: "Were not organized by the Liberal Party of Canada in B.C. I also want to point out that Mike Witherly was not in charge of LP CBC during that time."

Mark Marissen, who was federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's leadership campaign manager and now co-chairs the Liberal Party national election campaign team, said in an e-mail to 24 hours that he did not know about Elmhirst's subpoena to testify.

"I was first aware of it from your story in 24 hours," Marissen wrote. In response to a question whether he had at any point discussed the subpoena with Elmhirst, Marissen replied that: "Given that this is a matter before the courts, I did not feel it was appropriate to ask him about any details associated with his subpoena."

4 comments:

Mike Bains said...

Bill,

I believe that Kim Haakstad was in charge of the Party Office and held the position of Executive Director.

Court documents released in Spetember of 2004 clearly showed that Bornmann was a target of the police investigation and a court summary released in February 2004 mentioned that the RCMP were investigating "whether or not L1 (Lobbyist 1) offered a benefit to O1 and O2 (Oficials 1 and 2)."

This again raises more troubling questions for the Liberal Party of Canada. Why and who invited Mr. Erik Bormann to a state luncheon to rub shoulders with dignataries from China and Mexico?

G West said...

I don't suppose you have the seating plan for that little bun-toss do you Bill?

Be kind of fun to find out who sat with whom wouldn't it.

And that mysterious Gary Gibson, you wouldn't know if he was a guest too, would you?

I'd still like to know something a bit more definitive about that affidavit at the LSUC. Erik has so many balls in the air these days.

Budd Campbell said...

Bill, I have the same question as before. Why is none of this making the national media?

A check of the Globe and Mail, CBC and Toronto Star websites show no current hits when searching for "Bornmann". There some stories last fall on Bornmann's law society hearings, and in the Globe there is also the December Gary Mason piece.

Anonymous said...

Its amazing Bill, simply amazing! Why are you the only journalist to cover this story? How is it possible the Bornmann, who according to documents recently released by the court admits to bribing public officials, could get an invite to a state luncheon? All this does is raise questions Bill very troubling questions about just what the hell is going on!