Thursday, March 29, 2007

BC NDP poses 70 BC Rail & Basi-Virk questions in Legislature for Government to answer

And $1 billion BC Rail privatization deal and Basi-Virk case leave lots for BC Liberals to answer for

NDP MLA Leonard Krog (Nanaimo) yesterday filed 70 written questions in the BC Legislature for Attorney-General Wally Oppal to answer - and many of the questions go straight to the heart of the BC Legislature raid by police over three years ago.

The questions include a request for a full public inquiry into the deal following the conclusion of criminal proceedings against former BC Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk and government aide Aneal Basi.

For background on the case, check this blog for extensive prior coverage.

Don't expect many if any answers from the government though - it has steadfastly refused to disclose any information - hiding behind the old "matter is before the courts" excuse even when there is no connection to the case.

The next BC Supreme Court hearing date on the Basi-Virk case is April 2.

Here is the first part of the NDP news release issued today:

VICTORIA – In an effort to get the B.C. Liberal government to come clean on the problematic circumstances surrounding the sale of B.C. Rail, New Democrat MLA Leonard Krog is demanding that the Attorney General provide answers to a series of 70 questions.

“It has become increasingly clear that the Campbell Liberals will do whatever they can to avoid being held accountable for what might have happened during the sale of B.C. Rail“, said Krog, the New Democrat Critic for the Attorney General. “British Columbians deserve answers to these questions.” .......

“The Attorney General has refused to answer our questions about whether his government will commit to hold a public inquiry into the sell-off of B.C. Rail as soon as the criminal proceedings conclude so that B.C. taxpayers can finally get the answers they deserve,” continued Krog. “That is completely unacceptable.”

And here are the questions:

NOTICE OF QUESTIONS

Monday, April 16

Mr. Krog to ask the Hon. Attorney General the following questions pertaining to the BC Rail deal:

1. Will the government hold a public inquiry into the sell-off of BC Rail as soon as the criminal proceedings conclude so that B.C. taxpayers can finally get the answers they deserve?
2. When did the government first learn that the BC Rail deal was the target of an in-depth RCMP investigation?
3. When will the government release all documents -- including documents which may not be directly linked to the charges -- that relate to government policies or decisions regarding BC Rail?
4. Has the investigation into the sale of BC Rail uncovered evidence that other government policies or decisions may have been illegally or inappropriately affected? If yes, will the government release all such documents -- including documents which may not be directly related to the charges?
5. Did the BC Rail Steering Committee discuss the potential for the BC Rail deal to collapse if only one bidder remained in the bidding process?
6. Will the government release all minutes for meetings of the BC Rail Steering Committee?
7. Will the government release all documents produced for the BC Rail Steering Committee?
8. Did members of the Steering Committee or other members of the government caucus meet with or communicate with any of the proponents or their representatives during the process to sell BC Rail?
9. Did the Premier or any of his staff meet with or communicate with any of the proponents or their representatives during the process to sell BC Rail?
10. Can the government explain why then-Solicitor General Rich Coleman briefed the Premier before the search warrants were executed?
11. Can the government explain why then-Solicitor General Rich Coleman briefed the Premier's Chief of Staff Martyn Brown immediately after the warrants were executed and before alerting the public?
12. Why was Martyn Brown given the go-ahead to fire Dave Basi immediately, prior to any charges being laid?
13. How can the government defend the propriety of the Solicitor General's actions against the charge that in briefing the Premier and his top political staffer, this government put its political interests ahead of the public interest?
14. Why was provincial government staff allowed to organize for the federal Liberals in the Legislature using taxpayer resources?
15. What steps did the Premier take to ensure that the BC Liberal Party did not benefit from illegal activities by staff?
16. Will the government release the tapes and/or transcripts of phone conversations between the Premier and government ministers that were gathered during the criminal investigation into the sale of BC Rail?
17. Given the government's own forecasts for significant coal mining activity, why were projections based on coal export growth deliberately left out of revenue calculations for the BC Rail line?
18. Did the government consider cancelling the sale of the BC Rail freight division?
19. Will the government release any and all correspondence with the RCMP and BC Rail about rescinding the sale of the BC Rail freight division?
20. If the government considered cancelling the sale of the BC Rail freight division, was compensation considered for any proponents?
21. What discussions took place concerning the issue of whether CN Rail had paid too much or too little for the BC Rail freight division?
22. What was the estimated value of former BC Rail assets in 2003, before they were sold? What is the estimated value of those former BC Rails assets now?
23. Did CP Rail express concerns about the clear breach of fairness in the process to sell BC Rail prior to their letter of Nov. 21, 2003?
24. Did the government -- including any and all government ministers, the BC Rail steering committee, the government caucus and/or its advisors or technical specialists -- ever discuss the consequences of OmniTRAX dropping out of the bidding process prior to or following the withdrawal of CP Rail?
25. Did the government consider the potential consequences of a small number of proponents or a single proponent during the sale of BC Rail for its goal of "maximizing value to the province"?
26. Did the government consider the potential negative political ramifications of a small number of proponents or a single proponent during the sale of BC Rail?
27. What was discussed at the Dec. 12, 2003, meeting held at Vancouver restaurant Villa del Lupo between the Minister of Finance and senior executives from OmniTRAX, the second-place finisher in the bidding process for the government-owned BC Rail?
28. Will the government ensure that tapes and transcripts resulting from the surveillance of the Minister of Finance's meeting with OmniTRAX officials are made public?
29. Did the Minister of Finance meet with other proponents during the transaction process?
30. Was it the Minister of Finance who ordered confidential government information to be leaked to a lobby firm representing OmniTRAX?
31. If it was not the Minister of Finance who ordered confidential government information to be leaked to a lobby firm representing OmniTRAX, was the Premier's Office or any other government official responsible for this order?
32. Will the government release the "meeting minutes, presentations and other documents" referred to in the Charles River Associates report on the BC Rail bidding process?
33. Did Charles River Associates review meetings, conversations or communications outside the official process -- particularly those including ministers and ministerial aides -- in their analysis of the fairness of the BC Rail transaction process?
34. Will the government release all documents including emails, reports, interview transcripts relating to the two information leaks referenced in the Charles River Associates report?
35. Can the government provide concrete evidence for their claim that the information leaks referenced in the Charles River Associates report did not materially affect the sale of BC Rail?
36. Will the government provide the full list of files and issues in the purview of or involving David Basi, Aneal Basi and Bob Virk between June 2001 and December 2003?
37. Did the government order an internal investigation into every file that Mr. Basi touched while he worked as a top political aide to the Minister of Finance -- and if not, why not?
38. Did the government order an internal investigation into every file that Mr. Virk touched while he worked as a top political aide to the Minister of Transportation -- and if not, why not?
39. Will the government provide an explanation as to why Dave Basi was fired immediately -- prior to any charges -- while Bob Virk was only suspended?
40. Can the government provide assurances and evidence of the statement made by the then-Finance Minister in December 2003 that Dave Basi "was not involved in the budget process, never has been" and "was not involved in the drafting of legislation or policy development."
41. Will the government conduct a review of every decision made to remove land from the ALR while Mr. Basi worked in the Campbell administration?
42. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities and files that involved Dave Basi and/or Bob Virk and the principals and staff of Pilothouse Public Affairs?
43. Is the government aware of any other potential or ongoing investigations that involve Basi, Virk, or Pilothouse and any other minister, ministry or public body -- and if so, what are they?
44. Will the government provide a full enumeration of the roles played in this investigation -- or any other related investigation -- by Mark Marissen, husband of then Deputy Premier Christy Clark, and Bruce Clark, the brother of the then-Deputy Premier?
45. What materials did the Special Prosecutor withhold from the defence that were the subject of the February 27, 2007 defence application?
46. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities associated with Pilothouse Public Affairs?
47. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities associated with K&E Public Affairs?
48. Why did the government allow Erik Bornman of Pilothouse Public Affairs to continue his lobbying activities after he had informed Bill Berardino that he had bribed Dave Basi?
49. Why did the government allow Brian Kieran of Pilothouse Public Affairs to continue his lobbying activities after he had informed the RCMP that he had tried to bribe Dave Basi?
50. Can the government assure British Columbians that lobbyists Erik Bornman and Brian Kieran no longer have access to senior government staff?
51. Why did the BC Liberal Party continue to accept money in 2004 from lobbyists named in the original warrants, long after the raids on the Legislature?
52. Why won't the BC Liberal government allow an all-party review of the Lobbyists Registration Act in order to have greater accountability over who is influencing government and how?
53. When did the Attorney General and Premier first become aware that the lead RCMP inspector was the brother-in-law of Kelly Reichart, Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party?
54. How did Kelly Reichert learn that Erik Bornman had been granted immunity in exchange for providing information about David Basi and Bob Virk?
55. When did the Attorney General and Premier first become aware that information related to the investigation was leaked to Kelly Reichart and was subsequently leaked by Mr. Reichart to principals in the investigation?
56. Does the Attorney General agree that the actions of Mr. Reichart risked compromising the investigation?
57. Why does Mr. Reichart continue to serve as the Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party?
58. Given that one of the government's objectives for the BC Rail transaction was "ensuring integrated North American access to preferred markets and carriers for interline rail shipments", why would the government attempt to sell the Roberts Bank Spur line separately, following the withdrawal of CP Rail?
59. Is it true that in November 2003, Dave Basi advised OmniTRAX that the then-Minister of Finance had authorized a consolation prize for OmniTRAX in exchange for that company staying in the bidding process?
60. Was this consolation prize the BC Rail spur line?
61. How much was the consolation prize valued at?
62. Was OmniTRAX offered any Delta ALR lands for expansion of the port as part of this consolation prize?
63. If it were not for the alleged criminal actions of high-ranking aides, would the government have proceeded with the sale of the BC Rail spur line?
64. Does $900,000 represent the total cost to taxpayers of cancelling the sale of the spur line, or did the final tab come in even higher than that? What was the final tab?
65. What was the estimated value of the spur line in 2004, when the sale was put on hold?
66. What was the estimated value of the spur line when the sale was totally cancelled in February 2006?
67. What is the estimated value of the spur line now?
68. Why won't the government exercise its rights under article 10.2 of the Revitalization Agreement to inspect all of CN's maintenance records for the former BC Rail line?
69. When will the government investigate the rash of tragic derailments since 2004 in order to shed light on this safety scandal?
70. Why has the government refused to provide evidence for its claim that the government discussed safety and maintenance with the proponents during the negotiations to sell BC Rail?

5 comments:

BC Mary said...

Many thanks for getting this information around, Bill.

Will those questions EVER be answered? Or will the Campbell Cabinet decide -- after a PUBLIC Inquiry -- that the answers must be kept SECRET, thanks to their diabolical Bill 6.

One thing I don't understand is why the 70 questions appear as if they'll be asked on
April 16, the day the 3-week Basi, Virk, Basi hearing on disclosure begins in BC Supreme Court. Why then? Why not today?

If the Legislature isn't in session on April 16 ... ?? And then there's my forecast to consider: that Premier Campbell will be gone by April 15 (at risk: I'm betting all you can drink at Tim Horton's on that day).

.

Anonymous said...

It seems like somebody in the ndp is finally waking up to the significance of what is happening regarding the bc rail deal.

Anonymous said...

Bill did you read the story by Gary Mason this morning in the Globe and Mail? I suppose question #1 should be, was campbell aware of this special relationship between paul taylor the dm of finance and lobbyist kieran? Question #2, does the premier have concerns with the most senior deputy minister in government coaching lobbyists on how to "land" a client and how much to charge? I could go on and on. Lets just start by getting answers to these two questions first.

Peter said...

Lobbyist seem to have a bigger role in this sordid affair than people think.

Why haven't the NDP filed a complaint with the Lobbyist Registrar?

Question 71: Are Kieran, Bornmann, Elmhirst still lobbying the Provincial Government?

BC Mary said...

.
My biggest question in the matter of Basi, Virk, Basi would be: how does poor ol' Bill Berardino extract documents from the government if they don't willingly fulfill his requests?

And really, is it a conflict of interest to expect the government to turn over documents which could incriminate itself?

Ol' Bill as Prosecutor in the Basi, Virk, Basi trial must have the worst, most thankless, most vulnerable job in the entire Western world.