Monday, July 14, 2008

Basi-Virk - No trial likely for up to a year as Special Prosecutor appeals secret witness ruling to Supreme Court of Canada

BC Legislature Raid case delayed up to a year as Crown seeks Supreme Court of Canada hearing to appeal secret witness ruling

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist

The trial of three ex-government aides facing corruption charges will be delayed up to a year after the Crown said Monday it will seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada decisions by two B.C. courts regarding secret witness testimony.

Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett he will ask the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn her ruling that defence lawyers could attend a hearing closed to the public and media where a police informant’s identity might be revealed.

The B.C. Court of Appeal upheld Bennett's ruling in a decision released last week.

Berardino’s appeal drew an angry response from New Democratic Party MLA Leonard Krog, who said the public needs to know why police raided the B.C. Legislature in December 2003 and later charged David Basi and Bob Virk with giving lobbyists secret government documents in the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail.

“I am extremely disappointed Mr. Berardino has chosen to delay further the most important case in front of the B.C. courts,” Krog said outside court. “The public interest in having this case heard far outweighs everything else.”

And it appears unlikely that Premier Gordon Campbell will be forced to testify in court. Government lawyer George Copley told Bennett that a deal between the defence and government will give lawyers for Basi, Virk and Aneal Basi access to documents where solicitor-client privilege is claimed, pre-empting a defence motion requesting Campbell testify.

An update hearing will be held September 17 and vetting of documents is scheduled for September 29.

Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton said in an interview outside court that Berardino's appeal to the Supreme Court will lead to an undetermined delay of at least a number of months.

"The Supreme Court of Canada will take until October at the earliest to decide on leave to appeal," Bolton said. "It could be up to several months for a Supreme Court of Canada case to be heard."

"The inevitable result will be some delay but the extent we don't know," he said. "We can do parts of the vetting but it's highly unlikely we can complete it without a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada."

Krog again called for a public inquiry to be held into the political corruption case regardless of the outcome.

"The public interest in favour of having this case heard far outweighs everything else," he said. "Everything that has happened in this case taxpayers have paid for - the prosecution, the defence, the courts."

"Whatever happens, there has to be a public inquiry," Krog said. "If ever there was a case when a public inquiry is needed, this is it."

UPDATE - A hearing regarding a potential media publication ban on access to the solicitor-client privilege documents will be held on Thursday July 17 at 10:30 a.m.

NOTE - A shorter version of this story will be published in Tuesday's 24 hours newspaper.


Anonymous said...

Shane on you Mr. Berardino. Shame.

Anonymous said...

Again, most criminal cases involve deciding fairly simple issues: did the accused do it. In early Common Law, defendents spoke to the accusations while a jury of peers decided if the defence was of veracity or perjury. Cases were resolved within days.

Members of the public think they have protection from self incrimination. We do, on paper, but the courts continue to allow cops to maintain lengthy investigative detentions, under oppressive conditions. Arrested private individuals ALWAYS talk. In the rare occasions where officers of the court face charges, they enjoy full protection. If you think there is equality of the law in this country, then you are dead wrong.

North Van's Grumps said...

In the meantime maybe the defence lawyers, and the Crown, and the Government, can clear up any backlog of documents that haven't found their way to the courts for its review.

Gary E said...

Good thought North Van's Grumps. And Maybe the bloggers can kepp interest up in this for the summer. Although with the amount of work involved a little break is good.
Thanks for this Bill. Other than Krog getting heated, did you notice anything with the lawyers? Any frustration?

Anonymous said...

Gee, 1 year delay in the trial proceeding. That means the trial (postponed yet again) won't proceed until after the May 2009 election. How convenient!

BC Liberals Suck said...

Mark my words, this trial will never go ahead. It often takes years for cases to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada and I'm sure there will be a lot of "delays" in getting this one there, just like this case in BC. By then, it will be years since the original charges were laid and the defendants will apply to dismiss due to the delay in justice. This case just involves far too many Liberals, provincially and federally, the RCMP, as well as a whole lot of other folks who are invested in this never seeing the light of day.

This is strategic. It is tied to the next election, the federal election and the rest of the province that is yet to be privatized to the Americans by Campbell and his insiders.

Other than Krog, where the hell is the NDP in all of this? Because from where we sit, they've done a whole lot of nothing on behalf of the citizens of BC. That doesn't bode well for the next election.

DPL said...

Gosh, most everything in BC lately has the words "By 2010" tagged to it. Is that what might happen here as well? The case is getting weirder by the day.
I do hope since the Appeals Court was two to one supporting the Judge that the top court may not accept the idea of an appeal to them. Not only is this event getting longer, the costs must be getting huge. Of course the accused are stuck in never never land as things grind along. Only in BC as the old tea commercilas used to say.

Anonymous said...

I saw a news clip tonight about how the entire case is in jeopardy. It seems as though the Special Prosecutor has the convenient scapegoat as in the Supreme Court of Canada to finally end this case.

This case has the potential to call witnesses such as the Premier and Berardino understands that it is easier to lay blame to the courts rather than his team.

Election 2009 has passed again without the case going forward.

Anonymous said...

F _ _ _ !


Anonymous said...


On the Basigate Scandal, the Campbell Regime and its fellow-travellers in the judicial system constitute an EVIL EMPIRE . . .


Anonymous said...

The frustration builds. Government investigating actions of government employees, who's actions occurred with the Fiberals holding a 77-2 hold in the leg. By winning majority again in 2005, this bought the Fiberals more time to be creative in how to hide what really was going on. Had the BCNDP won the 2005 election, I would say it would have been an almost sure bet that there would have been inquiries held into this.

And gordo would have been wearing it for a long time to come. Its of course in the best interests of the Fiberal government to bury the entire sordid affair. Fiberal supporters with airtight appeals to the SCC on the basis of right to a speedy trial.

Budd Campbell said...

I have to say that this delay is likely to feed cynicism about the Special Prosecutor law in BC. That's a pity, because whatever its flaws it's light years ahead of the rest of Canada, which is still stuck in a complete colonial quagmire in terms of investigating/prosecuting government officials.

It's worth mentioning that if the SCoC finishes their work in Feb or March of next year, the trial will be occuring smack in the middle of the 2009 BC election. Then it will be the Liberals turn to accuse Berardino of trying to pull something.

North Van's Grumps said...

Well one thing is perfectly clear to me, the only ones who are possibly learning anything from this curve, is the politicians who are still running the province, or for that fact, any other level of government, as well.

It will five years before trusted insiders (aids) David Basi and Bobby Virk working for the Minister of Finance Gary Collins and Minister of Highways Judith Reid get to have a trial, and in the meantime, the way Gordon Campbell used to run roughshod over the public will be done so with greater care taken.

eg. No one (civil servants) will be hired that are related to each other by blood or marriage;

eg. Back room campaigners like Mark Jiles, Patrick Kinsella, and Graham Bruce may not be "married" to government officials, but the owing of "chips" will be continued to paid, in full, but more secretively

Hats off to Bill Tieleman and Sean Holman for their hard work of keeping the public informed.

Anonymous said...

Next up the defence will IMO move to dismiss after the long delay by the prosecution.
How many times have we seen this act?
Canadian courts should be open, always.

Anonymous said...

This BC Rail give away has affected all the citizens of BC. Not only does it allow corruption,but also allows those select few to fatten thier bank accounts.I am sure a public enquiry would bring out lots of under the table deals with liberial friendly business,( rich get richer,Taxpayers get poorer)This loss of a main piece of BC's infilstructure has caused more truck traffic on our roads and must rely on US bast company that now owns two thirds of Canada. The compansation board is suppost to stop monopoly and the evidence from the raid should have stopped the deal til this all was sorted out.So lets have a public enquire and see if Mr Campbell is getting rich from the backs of hard working taxpayers. 42 percent raise and a 2.2 million dollar pension Mr Campbell were did this come from was it from BC rail employees surplus pension plan? or from cutting public employees 15%.This giving away of BC Rail has insider back room deals all over it.Lets get it out of the courts and into a public enquire and then back to the courts.

Anonymous said...

On-going investigations make lame investigators gainfully employed! Another boon-doogle, such as with the Hell's Angels (multi-million dollar trials), I-SPOT and Salvation Task Force... ANON 11:06, YOU'RE RIGHT! 'Good' men, are to blame, only because Canada doesn't have any!

Anonymous said...

And the bigger picture? Carol James and the NDP chasing rabbit trails. A divided opposition who try to put on a unified game face. No fire in the belly, no leadership and no focused game plan. As the wind blows so too does Carol.

As usual, in B.C. we're always voting against a party never for one. So now we have a real problem fundamentally both are bad. So who is worse? Welcome to British Columbia The distressed place on earth.

Gary E said...

Hi Bill

Are you aware that there is a court appearance scheduled for 10:30 AM July 17th for 23299 The Basi-Virk Hearings? I picked this up on the completed court list this evening.

North Van's Grumps said...

On another blog site on the same subject of the BC Legislature having been raided I found that "How Bad is The Record" included the acronym ADAG but it was without a definition given like "Assistant Deputy Attorney General".

A few searches on the internet using the same keywords ADAG and BC came up with a some hits, but when I wanted to go to the PDF file.....well, I was stymied because it came up with the "This file is not available" ... but the HTML file was, and still is very much accessible. I don't know why one would be closed to the public and the other one wide open.... who knows.

Welcome to the Manager's HR Toolkit

I wonder if David Basi and Bobby Virk received a "with Regrets" letter from the HR (human resources) for the Public Service Department like this one: a year after the raid

It seems that with the RCMP and VPD (Victoria) involved there has been a change of regulations required on the part of employees. I'm kind of interested in what the old one had to say, or didn't.

Standards of Conduct

Under the section on "Allegations of Wrongdoing" it raises an interesting point to which I haven't heard one peep out of Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk, and that has been THEIR failure to report a conflict of interest.... to their superior, and isn't that exactly what the raid has been all about? Them or them's bosses!

Anonymous said...

The Special Prosecutor is seeking to delay the trial until after the next provincial election so that we'll all have to vote without knowing what Premier Campbell and his senior people knew or how they were involved in the shady sell-off of public assets?

What a surprise! And what a joke this "justice system" of ours is!

Bill, remind us again how long ago these events are supposed to have happened and when this investigation started? Remind us again who appointed the special prosecutor? And what are the political links between the investigation and the politicos hiding behind the "process"? People tend to forget these things. And please someone start doing the FOIs so that we can calculate how much this has cost us.

Clearly, the media will have to substitute for the failed justice system by summarizing and putting all the relevant known facts to date on the table before the next elections, and then letting voters draw their own conclusions based on the probabilities.

If the justice system fails to deliver what it is supposed to deliver, the voters simply will have to decide for themselves who is probably guilty of what.

North Van's Grumps said...

Did I say "Standards of Conduct"?

David Schreck on Politics in BC has a story to tell today about former Forestry Minister Rich Coleman who took care of a Western Forest Products executive (his brother). While Vancouver Island loggers are laid off, the company is doing quite well, thank you very much..........

"The Auditor appears to speculate on one possible reason in a sidebar on page 41 of his report which notes that between 2005 and 2007 Western Forest Products donated $60,470 to the BC Liberal Party. BC's first Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Ted Hughes, probably would have called that an apparent conflict of interest. One of the current questions is whether Coleman was in a conflict because his brother is an executive at Western Forest Products. The Commissioner's report on that matter will also make interesting pre-election fodder."