Tuesday May 29, 2007
So many questions
By BILL TIELEMAN
Politicians need to be more willing to engage in full disclosure, rather than the classic Watergate modified, limited hang-out route.
There are dozens of unanswered questions in the B.C. Legislature raid case, including some that Premier Gordon Campbell could answer today.
On June 4, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett may provide the means for many questions to be addressed when she rules on a defence disclosure application.
That court application in April and May provided a window into the upcoming trial of David Basi and Bob Virk, two former ministerial aides charged with breach of trust and fraud for allegedly giving confidential government documents to a bidder in the $1-billion privatization of B.C. Rail in 2003.
Defence allegations are shocking: That Kelly Reichert, B.C. Liberal Party Executive Director, advised Premier Gordon Campbell the RCMP were recommending additional charges against Basi over his involvement in political dirty tricks and manipulation of radio and TV talk shows; that Reichert asked the RCMP not to charge Basi; that the Crown subsequently did not lay charges and much more.
Here are some of the questions that the proceedings raise:
- Why has Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino been absent from the entire disclosure application, leaving Crown duties to his assistants?
- Why is there no written immunity agreement with key witness Erik Bornmann, a provincial lobbyist, when Crown policy is that one be produced?
- Why were Bornmann and his Pilothouse Public Affairs partner Brian Kieran, another Crown witness, allowed to continue their lucrative business lobbying provincial cabinet ministers after allegedly paying bribes to Basi and Virk?
- Was Campbell's press secretary Mike Morton directly involved in media manipulation with Basi, as alleged by the defence?
- Was Campbell aware of Basi's media manipulation, as also alleged by defence lawyers?
- Why won't Campbell answer questions about his knowledge of or his officials' involvement in media manipulation, when no charges are before the courts?
- Why was RCMP Insp. Kevin DeBruyckere left on as lead Basi-Virk investigator when Reichert is his brother-in-law?
- Are taxpayers paying for lawyer Clark Roberts to monitor the courtroom proceedings and comment on behalf of former Finance Minister Gary Collins, who will be a witness? If so, why, how much is that costing and how long will it continue?
- As first reported in 24 hours, government Public Affairs Bureau officer Stuart Chase filed twice-daily reports from the courtroom to Attorney-General Wally Oppal's office. What other cases have received such intense monitoring and why won't Oppal release Chase's reports without a Freedom of Information request?
Justice Bennett may demand disclosure on some of these questions but Campbell and Oppal can answer others right now. Why not do so?