Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NDP alleges Basi-Virk trial will be delayed by BC Liberal government blocking disclosure of evidence sought by defence

January 10, 2008

Gov't dragging its heels, says NDP


The B.C. New Democratic Party opposition is alleging the B.C. Liberal government is forcing the delay of a March trial for two former ministerial aides facing breach of trust charges by refusing to disclose evidence requested by the defendants’ lawyers.

Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog charged Wednesday the government is wrongly claiming solicitor-client privilege for political reasons over documents related to the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail.

David Basi and Bob Virk are charged with giving confidential government documents to a lobbyist representing one of the bidders.

“I can’t imagine any harm being done to anyone by the disclosure of business advice given to the provincial government except for the political harm that would fall on Gordon Campbell,” Krog said in an interview. “This has all the appearance of political whitewash.”

Campbell’s Press Secretary Mike Morton said Wednesday the premier has declined comment on any matters regarding the case while it is before the court.

The defence seeks 17 documents which came from the legal firm hired by the government to work on the B.C. Rail deal, saying they are only business advice and should not be classified as solicitor-client privilege.

Justice Elizabeth Bennett adjourned Wednesday’s B.C. Supreme Court pre-trial hearing until January 14 shortly after it began.

Information not published in 24 hours

Krog said the government should be held responsible if the trial is delayed - it is scheduled to begin March 17 after several delays. The B.C. Legislature was raided by police investigating the case on December 28, 2003.

“The problem is clearly on the government side where they are attempting to keep documents from the defence,” said Krog, who is a lawyer and NDP critic for the Attorney-General’s ministry.

Krog said the premier should not allow documents to be withheld on the basis of solicitor-client privilege because of the importance of the case.

“This was not a grow-op raid – this was a raid on the offices of cabinet ministers. This is not an ordinary prosecution and if there was ever a case where public interest trumps solicitor-client privilege, this is it,” Krog said. “And if this is the premier’s idea of cooperation, I’d hate to see him if he was resisting.”

“This wasn’t Gordon Campbell’s railway – it was our railway and the government broke a specific election promise and has no right now to say ‘It’s secret and none of your business’,” he added.

The court pre-trial hearing was adjourned to give the defence additional time to review materials presented to them by George Copley, the government’s lawyer, regarding the solicitor-client privilege issue.


Paul G. said...


I found this piece of information quite interesting.

It appears that Bill Berardino has billed BC Hydro close to $7 Million for the fiscal year ending in 2006.

The information, contained in the BC Hydro Finnancial Information Act Return (Financial Statements Year Ended March 31, 2006) shows the following line item:

Messrs. Berardino & Harris LLP, In Trust - $6,900,000.

What is this about and why is BC Hydro paying this in trust? Is BC Hydro keeping old Bill too busy to finish disclosure?

I wonder if this is why Mr. Berardino was quoted recently as saying that the defence arguements in court are "nonsense" regarding the BC Government is witholding information?

It seems to me that $7 Million is alot of money and you would never want to bite the hand that feeds you, in the millions.

The link can be found at

The reference to Berardino et al is on Page 73.

Anonymous said...

The funds were paid "In Trust" for another party, not for legal fees.

You've got Bracewell & Giuliani LLP that was paid $5,412,533, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP at $1,970,583 and on and on.

I've never subscribed to the second man on the knoll theory myself.

Gazetteer said...

Mr. Krog my be on to something when he suggests that he can't imagine any harm being done be releasing material that includes advice from lawyers and bankers (ie. the solicitor-client privilege claim) on a deal that is already done.

In fact, unless I'm mistaken the much ballyhood 'fairness report' itself noted that confidentiality was needed to ensure that no party was able to obtain an unfair advantage, or unduly influence the government while the deal was being negotiated.

Thus, now that deal is done, well......would it not follow that there is no longer any need for that privilege?

(and I'm making clear a distinction here between solicitor-client privilege which is, apparently, currently being claimed by the government's lawyer, Mr. Copley, vs. Cabinet privilege which, apparently, is not - at least not yet).



All this legal farce needs is low speed chase around the Legislature and O.J. trying on gloves for Berardino.
"stop me before I drink & drive again"

Budd Campbell said...

Regardless of party, the senior bureaucracy in Victoria has long been home to some of the best Medieval minds outside Ottawa itself.

Does anyone really think that if Carole James were Premier there wouldn't be similar stonewalling, all of if studiously advised by senior lawyers and other advisors both on staff and on contract? If so, how do you square that expectation with her handling of the Tsawwassen Treaty vote, or her party's truly incredible position on redistribution?

Paul G said...

Unfortunately Anonymous 9:11 after 4 years of waiting something is not right on the other side of that grassy knoll - whether you wish to tell us why remains an open question.

BC Mary said...

Does anyone really think that if Carole James were Premier there wouldn't be similar stonewalling, all of if studiously advised by senior lawyers and other advisors both on staff and on contract? - asks Budd.

I think that's my cue. If I've said it once, I've said it 100 times over at my place: political campaigning doesn't help us resolve what happened to B.C. Rail ... it sidetracks us.

Doesn't matter a damn what Carole James mighta, coulda, woulda, shoulda done. (Although I seriously doubt that she'd have dumped B.C. Rail, the Tree Farm Licences, B.C. Hydro, etc etc ... but never mind.)

The mess in B.C. Supreme Court is what we're stuck with. That's what needs sorting out.

Although I must admit that Dave Schreck had shocking political news yesterday: that the next BC election possibly only one more sitting of the Legislature away.


Anonymous said...

The RCMP raid on the legislature all resulted on some inside allegation that organized crime had infiltrated the highest levels of government.

Apparently, that was not the case and it appears that the RCMP were saving face and attempting to find something else to lay their fingers on as the raid was very... dare I say... extremely public?

Voila... we have the Basi-Virk trial.

In this scenario, the running of a trial through Court can take years and, in fact, Court proceedings are a crap-shoot.

BC Mary said...

Anonymous 7:01,

I think that's wishful thinking on your part, rather than the facts of the Basi Virk case.

You've also misquoted RCMP Sgt John Ward who said that "in the past 2 years, organized crime has crept into ALL levels of society ... so nobody should be surprised ..." etc.

There's plenty to question about the Basi Virk case now before BC Supreme Court, but that isn't one of them.

Red herring is wearing a bit thin.


BC Mary said...

Here's a bit more about the organized crime beginnings of the raid on the B.C. Legislature:

"Raids: How big a scandal?

"... It started out like so many relatively routine tips that police officers pick up - some unsubstantiated information about trafficking in cocaine and marijuana, deemed to be worthy of further investigation by the Victoria Police Department and the RCMP Drug Section for the Greater Victoria region. But as the officers conducted their probe, the tentacles spread further and further, potentially involving organized crime and police corruption. Then this weekend they reached right inside the B.C. Legislative Buildings - a place where police officers rarely venture except to keep the peace at demonstrations and arrest the odd errant protester. ... [and you can see the rest of Barbara McLintock's article on The Tyee for Dec. 30/04]


Anonymous said...

would the liberals be all that disappointed if the crown's and their own delays resulted in the defence successfully having the charges stayed on the basis of the defendants having had their charter rights to a timely trial violated? thinking not.

Anonymous said...

"would the liberals be all that disappointed if the crown's and their own delays resulted in the defence successfully having the charges stayed"
Well, no, but if the court case dies, then at least Gordon can't keep claiming it as his reason for not commenting, and huge amounts of stinking government communications have been exposed, which can be pursued through FOI.

Anonymous said...

Mary, with all due respect your rantings about organized crime are really sounding more and more off the wall. Are you trying to tell me the rcmp is not capable of hyping something up and then doing everything it can to save its hide and make it up? If you can say that with a straight face then you are one of the very few in this country who can.

This is a farce a joke. In my opinion basi and virk are no more tied to organized crime than glen clark was crooked when we had the last, you got it, big made for television courtesy of the rcmp (you remember the cameras at glen's house don't you) raid that told us about gangsters in burnaby, crooked bingo licenses and premiers on the take. I didn't believe it then and I certainly don't believe the rcmp now.

Your rant is getting extremely tiring and off the topic. Ask yourself this, what is the government trying to hide with the bc rail deal? Why is the rcmp protecting the government and talking to leading government officials which we have learned about thanks to documents marked "NOT FOR DISCLOSURE".

Is that all a coincidence, come on.

Bill thank you for working so hard to give us the coverage you have been providing. Your educated and intelligent coverage of this case has allowed people like me to understand exactly what is happening while happily avoiding some of the hysteria others would like to add.

Marysue said...

Thanks to Bill for keeping this disgusting breach of public trust (one of many by the Campbell Gov't)in the public's face. Maybe the public won't be so damn stupid as to vote for these self-serving rich crooks again. And, for Anonymous' sake, organized crime is, indeed, everywhere. What? You think the Hell's Angels would leave government figures alone, and even some police? How could they, the Mafia, the Tongs, the Vietnamese gangs, East Indian gangs and criminally inclined CEOs operate, if they didn't have some politicians, judges and police in their pockets? They aren't going to support the NDP, CAP or Greens!

BC Mary said...

Anonymous 0:31,

I'm glad you applaud Bill Tieleman whose professionalism is appreciated by us all ...

... as for me, well, I hope I don't bother you too much because it's my plan to follow the BCRail case from start to finish ... as calmly and sensibly as possible. Here goes:

This is a column Jeff Rud of Times Colonist, April 2, 2004, titled "Warrant summary confirms drug link".

He wrote "RCMP have identified two groups of people believed to be involved in criminal transactions" ... one group included several people from Victoria, the Lower Mainland and Toronto, "believed to be trafficking in kgs of cocaine and cash...between May 2002 and December 2003. The second group, which police say includes three or more people, trafficking marijuana in both Victoria and the Lower Mainland."

The summary of the search warrants for searching the BC Legislature says that police seized "large amounts of cash and bulk amounts of marijuana" from some members of this group.

During this time period, there are wire taps on 26 phone calls from Jasmohan Singh Bains to his cousin, Dave Basi, at work in the Ministry of Finance.

Bains was generally believed "on the street" to be trafficking's new "Mr Big", following the arrest in the U.S. of the previous kingpin.

These are serious matters. If you have information, tell us. Help people understand. Don't just throw stones and call people bad names for making the effort to figure things out. It's so adversarial, don't you think?

You wouldn't be one of those hired media monitors, would you?


Anonymous said...

Mary you are quoting from stories in the early days when the rcmp spin machine was running full bore with no end in sight. Wow thats an unheard of thing, the rcmp spin machine running full bore to misrepresent the facts!! Guess what, a funny thing happened on the way to the public lynching, the facts came out and the spin machine has become derailed (thats a funny analogy) once the real facts began to emerge. If you want more juicy stories forget about the story from Rud go the vancouver sun stories in the days after the raids. These stories were full of even more stuff about this massive drug conspiracy that threatened to topple civilized society in bc. While you are reviewing those stories why don't you review the spin about glen clark in the early days courtesy of the rcmp. By the time his trial finally started and ended there was a sea change in new stories that went from outright hysterical to calm and rational.

I will go one further, go back and read the submission by the defence lawyers who openly mocked the rcmp about their pathetic attempts to link basi and virk to drug trafficking in bc. That application led to the judges decision on June 4, 2007 that has resulted in the present situation where the government and the rcmp have been found to be hiding documents and dragging their heals. I am sure Bill has the defence submission in this files, it is a public document. Maybe he could email it to you for some good reading. I will say again, I didn't believe the rcmp in the past and I don't believe them now.

Come to think of it you didn't even address my comparision of this case to what happened to glen. Feel free to do so when you have a moment.

Wayne said...

Very interesting exchange bill. I am afraid I would have to agree with anonymous when it comes to public trust (i should say the lack of public trust), the rcmp and the truth. Come to think of it the rcmp "spin machine" did quite a number on premier clark at the time.

I am not a media monitor just somebody who takes the time to formulate my own opinions and not let the "spin machine" do it for me.

Wayne said...

One more thought, whatever happened to the other supposed kingpin mandip sandhu. "rcmp spin machine" was working overtime on him as well. Last I heard the charges against him were dropped. Doesn't make sense bill. This only gives more credence to what anonymous is saying.

BC Mary said...

Glad you guys are feeling (and sounding) better.

Wish I knew what you're getting at, but I don't. Glen Clark had nothing to do with transfering Canada's 3rd largest railway into private pockets.

The topic here isn't Police = Ba-a-ad, either.

That just leaves Bill's topic: that the Basi-Virk trial will be delayed ... and if you'd like to drop in at The Legislature Raids, you might be interested in the top post there.