Lyle Stafford photo
Ward also said: "There are no municipal, provincial or federal elected politicians involved in this investigation. I can tell you that right off the bat."
But both RCMP statements now appear to be incorrect.
Almost five years after the raid, Virk's defence lawyer, Kevin McCullough, stood up in B.C. Supreme Court to read an RCMP document stating that in fact a member of the special prosecutor team directly instructed the RCMP that their planned news release was wrong two days before it was issued.
"Do not leave the impression that organized crime has penetrated the legislature," lawyer David Harris allegedly told the RCMP in a voice mail.
And defence lawyers have strongly alleged that former B.C. Liberal Finance minister Gary Collins was indeed under RCMP investigation, detailing in court a full-scale video surveillance operation on Dec. 12, 2003, when he dined with senior executives of OmniTRAX -- one of three B.C. Rail bidders -- at Vancouver's posh Villa del Lupo restaurant.
Citizens await testimony under oath
What else in this complex and incredibly long-running case is true or false?
It remains hard to say, because almost all reporting on the case is based on oral statements in B.C. Supreme Court -- and these allegations from the defence remain unproven, despite the fact that they often come from RCMP, government and other documents disclosed by the special prosecutor trying the accused.
And to date, literally one person has given testimony under oath in court -- in a relatively minor matter.
When will the actual trial start? Not before the May 15, 2009, provincial election -- a big relief for Campbell and his B.C. Liberal Party, who have now dodged a trial for two elections in a row since the raid -- 2005 and 2009.
Currently the trial is being held up pending a Supreme Court of Canada one-day hearing tentatively set for April 22 on the issue of secret witness testimony, with special prosecutor Bill Berardino appealing two B.C. court rulings that defence lawyers can be present in court when arguments are made as to why one informer's identity must be protected.
With a ruling likely weeks if not months after that, it appears the trial of Basi, Virk and Basi will not start before the summer of 2009.
But if the special prosecutor loses the appeal, he has hinted the trial may not even proceed because of his need to protect the identity of the secret witness and not breach informer privilege.
An alphabetical guide to the players
Nonetheless, on the fifth anniversary of this perplexing, puzzling and highly political case, here is something that has not been published in this detail before: an A-to-Z dictionary with over 80 profiles of the major and minor players in B.C.'s biggest government corruption scandal story, and links to items about their roles.
This diverse cast of characters from every walk of life in British Columbia tells the tale -- and shows the depth and breadth -- of what the RCMP titled "Operation EveryWhichWay."
And as every sports or Shakespeare fan knows, you can't tell the players without a program!
For the less initiated, a summary of Railgate (otherwise known as the B.C. legislature raid case or the Basi-Virk case) runs with this article in a sidebar below the A-Z article.
To find much, much more about the Basi-Virk case, and for regular updates, go to my blog.
While it should be obvious, let it be clearly stated that any reference to any individual or organization in this article in no way implies any wrongdoing on their part in this case and is merely for informational purposes.
It should also be stated that allegations made in court by the defence or Crown are merely that and because the Basi-Virk case is still in the pre-trial hearings stage, assertions made are not subject to production of evidence and cross-examination.
Lastly, it should also be remembered that the accused are innocent until proven guilty and that Crown charges have not been examined in court or judged.
David ANDERSON. Ex-federal government, possible witness. The former federal Liberal Environment minister, Anderson has been called a political "godfather" figure to several key players in the B.C. legislature raid case.
Those include Erik Bornmann, the key Crown witness; Jamie Elmhirst, Anderson's former assistant and Bornmann's former lobbying business partner at Pilothouse Public Affairs; and Mark Marissen, former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin's B.C. lieutenant and chief strategist for former federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion's leadership campaign.
Valerie ANDERSON. Federal lawyer. Anderson is legal counsel for the attorney general of Canada, representing the federal government's interests in some disclosure issues. But she is no longer a regular in B.C. Supreme Court.
Camille BAINS. Media. Bains is a Canadian Press reporter whose diligent stories are now missed, as she has been reassigned and CP is not regularly covering the case.
Amar BAJWA. Federal Liberal Party, possible witness. Former federal Liberal government assistant in Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Bajwa was among several listed in a search warrant information to obtain, who police said: "are not at the present time the subjects of this investigation."
Collins introduced Bajwa in the B.C. legislature on two occasions, in 1999 and 2001. More recently, Bajwa was campaign manager for Victoria Liberal candidate Anne Park Shannon in the 2008 election.
David BASI. Accused, ex-B.C. government. Five years ago, life was good for Basi. As ministerial assistant to then-Finance minister Gary Collins, Basi was a powerful provincial government staffer who also worked as a federal Liberal Party organizer for the leadership campaign of Finance Minister Paul Martin.
Basi and co-accused Bob Virk, ministerial assistant to Transportation Minister Judith Reid, were two of the key political staff involved in the $1 billion B.C. Rail privatization. Both men sat in on many confidential meetings on the deal, and were both in multiple e-mail chains as well, according to defence statements in B.C. Supreme Court.
Basi was also heavily involved in efforts to push federal Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien out of office and replace him with then–Finance minister Paul Martin. The so-called "Basi Boys" were allegedly used by Martin's B.C. lieutenant Mark Marissen -- husband of then-provincial Liberal deputy premier Christy Clark -- to take over riding associations for the Martin forces.
But Basi's political activities were not what brought RCMP attention. Basi's cousin Jasmohan (Jas) Bains was under investigation in Victoria for cocaine trafficking, and when extensive wiretaps on Bains's phones were set, Basi was allegedly intercepted discussing matters that police felt were illegal, leading to the launch of Project Everywhichway.
After the B.C. legislature raid, Basi was fired from his job and later charged with breach of trust and fraud for allegedly giving provincial lobbyist Erik Bornmann confidential government documents related to the B.C. Rail bidding process.
Bornmann and Pilothouse Public Affairs partner Brian Kieran were registered lobbyists for OmniTRAX, the U.S.-based rail company that was in the running to buy B.C. Rail.
Later more charges were laid against Basi alone. He was charged with the production and possession of marijuana after police found a grow operation in a home he owned but rented out at Shawnigan Lake, north of Victoria. The charges were stayed June 30, 2005, by the federal Crown.
The Crown alleges that Basi was paid $50,000 between January 2002 and September 2003 to help veteran Victoria developers Jim Duncan and Tony Young get land removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve for the giant Sunriver Estates housing project.
All three men face trial in Victoria in 2009 and Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton has dismissed the allegations against his client, saying an aide in the Finance Ministry couldn't influence ALR decisions.
The now 41-year-old Basi also apparently avoided other possible charges. Defence lawyers alleged in court that Basi had two $10,000 private contracts with the B.C. Liberal Party for "media monitoring" -- a misleading term which appears to have covered many political dirty tricks.
Basi and Virk's defence is that they were under orders from political higher-ups to do whatever necessary to keep OmniTRAX in the bidding.
Collins has strongly denied that allegation.
Aneal BASI. Accused, ex-B.C. government. The least known of the three accused is an ex-government junior Transportation Ministry public affairs officer who is charged with money laundering for alleged accepting of payments from former provincial lobbyist Erik Bornmann -- now the key Crown witness -- for his cousin David Basi.
Police allege that Bornmann paid Aneal Basi through his company Pacific Public Affairs Corporation for "contract writing services" and then passed equal amounts on to David Basi.
The 28-year-old Basi was appointed to his position in July 2002, has been a federal Liberal Party donor and is a former member of Canada's national field hockey team.
BC MARY. Media. The indefatigable proprietor of the only website exclusively devoted to the Basi-Virk case. BC Mary's blog -- The Legislature Raids -- is the repository of hundreds of thousands of words on the case, including links and excerpts from media reports going back to 2003 and original reporting, plus BC Mary's own unique takes on the case.
From mainstream media stories to conspiracy theories, it's a one-stop shop for Basi-Virk aficionados. BC Mary is known by her blog name only.
Bennett was repeatedly frustrated by delays in the trial, exclaiming at one point, "As long as everyone understands we're not moving the Dec. 3 date -- if I have to sit here in an empty courtroom myself, the matters are going to be heard."
Of course, that date was Dec. 3 in 2007, not 2008, and the trial is still many, many months away despite Bennett's repeated efforts to get underway.
Bill BERARDINO. Special prosecutor. Berardino is a veteran lawyer who became special prosecutor in December 2003. Berardino has decades of experience as a top commercial litigator and has represented diverse clients, including Imperial Tobacco in its fight with B.C. and other provincial governments over the recovery of medical costs due to smoking-related illnesses.
But Berardino does not have criminal courtroom experience, leading to some criticism that his appointment as special prosecutor by the attorney general's ministry was a mistake.
Michael BOLTON. Defence lawyer. Bolton represents David Basi and is a veteran criminal lawyer and former journalist. Bolton acts as spokesperson for the defence lawyers outside court and has been involved in many high profile cases, including representing Svend Robinson when he pled guilty to theft charges after the former New Democrat member of parliament swiped an expensive ring at an auction.
Bolton, who holds a Queen's counsel or QC, shows a gentlemanly demeanour in court, which often disguises the razor blade in his boxing gloves when he wants to drive home a point.
Erik BORNMANN. Key Crown witness, ex-lobbyist. Bormann is a former provincial lobbyist and one-time aide to former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin when he was finance minister, and is now the star witness against David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi.
Police search warrant "information to obtain" documents allege that Bornman and partner Brian Kieran paid Basi and Virk nearly $30,000 in exchange for confidential information on the B.C. Rail deal.
The controversial Bornmann earned the nickname "Spiderman" after entering a locked room in the B.C. offices of the Liberal Party of Canada through the ceiling.
Bornmann later told staff that his bag had been locked inside and he needed it. But the room also contained the B.C. membership list during the time of the leadership battle between Martin and Jean Chrétien.
Bornmann and Pilothouse Public Affairs partner Kieran -- the former Province newspaper political columnist -- were the registered provincial lobbyists for OmniTRAX, the US-based rail company that was bidding for B.C. Rail against eventual winner CN Rail and CP Rail, which dropped out of the bidding because of what it said was a "clear breach" of fairness in the process due to other bidders receiving confidential information.
In addition to OmniTRAX, Bornman was active in B.C. government relations as a registered lobbyist for the Employers Forum of B.C., the Council of Forest Industries, the Western Canadian Shippers Coalition, the Broe Companies, Inc. (owners of OmniTRAX), the B.C. Real Estate Association, Famous Players, the Certified General Accountants Association of B.C. and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, according to the B.C. government's lobbyist web site.
In 1999, Bornmann was a key organizer for a Victoria federal Young Liberal convention that turned into a drunken hotel-trashing. Traveller's Inn president John Asfar sued the Liberal party for $10,000 in damages but settled out of court.
Since graduating from UBC, Bormann has tried to become a lawyer in both Ontario and New York, but the delays in his testimony as the Basi-Virk star witness have ensured that his legal career is at best on hold pending the trial.
Roy BORNMAN. Federal Liberal party. Brother of Erik Bornmann, Roy spells his name with just one "n" and has been the Liberal Party in B.C.'s executive director, a federal government communications director and a backer of former prime minister Paul Martin's leadership campaign. More recently, the communications consultant supported Liberal MP and hockey goalie great Ken Dryden in the last leadership contest.
Brown might also have to testify about what role Campbell and his former deputy minister Ken Dobell played in dealing with disclosure of government documents requested as evidence by the defence.
No one has more at stake in the B.C legislature raid than Campbell and the accused.
Many of Campbell's top cabinet ministers, political staff and bureaucrats are all alleged by the defence to have had varying roles in the case -- and a full trial would expose secrets that must make the premier sleepless at night.
Campbell's biggest fear -- release in court of all the various wiretaps on David Basi, Bob Virk and other key players that would paint a devastating picture of not only the B.C. Rail sale but potentially of a government with less scruples than the Richard Nixon White House as revealed by Nixon's own tapes.
The best case scenario for Campbell is that the case is dismissed without coming to trial, due to either defence success at having it thrown out of court for procedural abuses -- which it will be trying to do -- or if special prosecutor Bill Berardino loses his Supreme Court of Canada appeal in April 2009 on the secret witness issue and announces that the prosecution can't continue as a result.
But no one knew who he was or why he was there until I reported his presence, leading Attorney General Wally Oppal to wrongly claim Chase's job was to "assist the media." In fact, as a freedom-of-information request I received showed, Chase was reporting to Victoria twice a day on political developments.
Chase has not been in the courtroom for a long time and has moved on to another assignment in public affairs.
B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon cancelled the Roberts Bank sale in March 2004 after being told by RCMP that the process had been compromised by the leak of confidential information to a bidder.
Clark's past includes a term as CEO of the money-losing Canada Payphone Corporation, a company whose board of directors included controversial B.C. Liberal insider Patrick Kinsella, while Bornmann served as the firm's communications director. Peter Brown of Canaccord Capital, a major backer of Premier Gordon Campbell, helped Canada Payphone by brokering a private placement of two million units of shares worth $1.40 each at the time.
Clark joined brother-in-law Marissen in supporting his efforts to make Paul Martin the new Liberal leader and prime minister, serving as one of Martin's top fundraisers. Clark also backed Marissen's choice -- Stéphane Dion -- in his 2006 winning campaign for federal Liberal leader.
Christy CLARK. Ex-B.C. cabinet minister, possible witness. Clark and husband Mark Marissen had a no-doubt unwelcome home visit from the RCMP at the time of the B.C. legislature raid, but there was no search warrant and both have made clear they have co-operated and are not under investigation.
But the involvement of Clark's brother Bruce and others in this case who are closely linked to her and Marissen, and her role as deputy premier during much of the B.C. Rail privatization period may mean a trip to the witness stand for the current CKNW radio talk show host.
Since August 2009, Clark has been represented in court by lawyer John Esson regarding disclosure of BC Liberal MLA emails.
Rich COLEMAN. B.C. cabinet minister, possible witness. The B.C. Liberal minister of Housing and Social Development has had his name raised in court a few times, including when the defence alleged that an RCMP officer's notes show Coleman and then-cabinet minister Christy Clark had discussed B.C. Rail issues with Terry Fergusson, executive director of the National Historical Railway Society, a group that sued B.C. Rail in 1998 over money it claimed was owed to it.
Gary COLLINS, Ex-B.C. cabinet minister, probable witness. The B.C. Liberal minister of Finance from 2001 to 2004 oversaw the privatization of B.C. Rail and, the defence alleges, ordered David Basi and Bob Virk to do whatever necessary to keep B.C. Rail bidder OmniTRAX from leaving the competition.
Collins strongly denies defence allegations that he authorized a "consolation prize" be given to OmniTRAX -- that they would be the winning bidder on a second privatization of B.C. Rail assets -- the Roberts Bank rail spur line worth $70 million.
Collins is central to the defence arguments that Basi and Virk were merely following orders of their bosses and that the RCMP "tailored and targeted" their investigation towards the two ministerial aides and away from elected officials like the former Finance minister.
The defence has outlined in court that a major police surveillance operation focused on Collins himself when he dined with senior executives of OmniTRAX at Vancouver's posh Villa del Lupo restaurant on Dec. 12, 2003.
Collins is obviously unhappy with the attention. He retained Victoria lawyer Clark Roberts to represent him by monitoring courtroom hearings in 2007 and speaking to the media to respond to allegations.
Collins left the B.C. government in 2004 to take a job as CEO of Harmony Airways -- a small airline owned by David Ho that went out of business after Collins left in December 2006 to become a vice-president of Belkorp Industries.
George COPLEY. B.C. Government lawyer. Copley, another Queen's counsel, represents the Executive Council of British Columbia -- which means the interests of the provincial government -- in disclosure of evidence matters. Copley declines to speak to media outside court, and inside court forces media and public to strain to hear his soft-spoken words.
But Copley's legal approach can be very tough indeed when it comes to defending cabinet privilege and solicitor-client privilege on behalf of the Campbell government. Copley has represented the province in court in many high profile cases, including the fight over legal aid funding for mass murderer Willie Pickton and arguing for blood transfusions in the case of four surviving sextuplets whose Jehovah's Witness parents did not want such medical intervention.
Andrew COWAN. RCMP. Corporal Cowan is one of the key investigators in the B.C. legislature raid case, responsible for swearing some of the police information-to-obtain search warrants -- and has some very surprising connections to one of the accused.
Defence lawyers alleged in court that Cowan bought a house from David Basi's mother several years before the raid, including direct dealings with Basi himself, and that Cowan was not happy with the deal.
And a consultant who told The Tyee and some other media outlets that he was considering hiring David Basi in 2004 that Cowan visited him at his home along with another officer, making it clear it would be a mistake to continue having a working relationship with Basi.
Cowan has told The Globe and Mail he couldn't comment on these allegations because the case is before the court.
Wendy COX. Media. The B.C. bureau chief for Canadian Press is not covering the case nor is she editing CP coverage of it, but is only mentioned in the category of the "small world" of media and politics -- Cox is the wife of former B.C. Finance minister Gary Collins.
Robert DEANE. BC Rail lawyer. Deane represents the Crown corporation whose main operations were sold to CN Rail in 2003, dealing with disclosure of evidence issues.
Kevin DeBRUYCKERE. RCMP. One of the lead RCMP investigators in Project Everywhichway, amazingly Inspector DeBruyckere is also by coincidence the brother-in-law of B.C. Liberal Party executive director Kelly Reichert.
DeBruyckere disclosed that information to his superiors in March 2004, but defence lawyers have strongly argued that his relationship is a conflict of interest that should have had him removed from the case, but have not at any point alleged any impropriety on the part of either DeBruyckere or Reichert.
Bob Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough alleged in court that Premier Gordon Campbell was informed by Reichert in June of 2005 that RCMP were forwarding a report to Crown counsel on David Basi's alleged "media monitoring" contracts with the B.C. Liberal Party.
McCullough alleged that the report came because "one of the investigations of Mr. Basi was whether there was any wrongdoing regarding the media monitoring contracts with the Liberal Party," referring to two $10,000 contracts Basi allegedly had.
Campbell has declined all comment on allegations raised to date in the case, saying the matter is "before the courts."
DeBruyckere is now a superintendent with the RCMP's Integrated Security Unit - responsible for security during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Ken DOBELL. Ex-B.C. government, probable witness. Dobell was Premier Gordon Campbell's deputy minister until 2005 and is alleged by the defence to have politically interfered in disclosure of government evidence.
David Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton argued before Justice Elizabeth Bennett that a court-approved protocol to restrict access to evidence seized in a 2003 police raid on the B.C. legislature was violated by Dobell.
Dobell admitted he reviewed confidential government documents seized by police in the B.C. legislature raid case without signing an undertaking as required by a protocol created by the special prosecutor.
That undertaking required anyone signing it to not discuss the contents with anyone as a condition of viewing the documents.
Dobell, speaking to The Globe and Mail's Mark Hume, claimed he was not part of the "political side" of Campbell's office and as cabinet secretary he was part of an "independent, bureaucratic office."
That, Dobell said, meant he had not contradicted Campbell's claim in the legislature last year that the premier's office was not involved in disclosure of evidence issues.
"There is a special prosecutor involved in this. The Premier's Office does not have a direct input into that.... This premier's office is not involved directly with that," Campbell said in 2007.
Ian DONALD. Judge.Donald was one of three B.C. Court of Appeal justices who ruled on the issue of whether defence lawyers could be present in court to hear testimony about why special prosecutor Bill Berardino wants the identity of a witness kept secret.
Donald and B.C. Court of Appeal Chief Justice Lance Finch upheld presiding B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett's ruling that the defence could hear arguments on the issue, while the media and public would be excluded, with Justice Catherine Ryan dissenting. Berardino is now appealing that ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada, which will tentatively hear arguments on April 22, 2009.
Ravinder (Rob) DOSANJH. Ex-Victoria police constable, possible witness. Dosanjh was convicted of obstructing justice in December 2006 in a case connected to the B.C. legislature raid and resigned from the force.
Dosanjh was given a three-month conditional sentence for counselling his cousin, Mandeep Sandhu, to lie about where he got $35,000 found by police in Sandhu's house in a Dec. 9, 2003 police search.
Basi orchestrated Sandhu's election to the federal Liberal Party executive in Equimalt-Juan de Fuca on Dec. 7, 2003, but Sandhu could not take his position as he was not a member of the party. Sandhu is related to federal Liberal activist Amar Bajwa.
Dosanjh was suspended with pay Dec. 15, 2003, just days before RCMP and Victoria police raided the B.C. Legislature.
Joe DOYLE. Defence lawyer. Doyle represents Aneal Basi and is present for all pre-trial hearings, generally backing up the arguments of Michael Bolton and Kevin McCullough, but sometimes taking the lead on legal issues.
James (Jim) DUNCAN. Accused. Victoria developer Duncan and business partner Tony Young face trial in Victoria in 2009 over charges that they paid David Basi $50,000 to help them get land removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve for a housing development in Sooke.
Duncan and Young are charged with making an illegal payment to a government official and breach of trust in connection with building the giant Sunriver Estates, a project of 650 residential units on 382 acres being built in five phases through 2007. It is owned by Shambrook Hills Development Corp.
Allegedly Basi received the money between January 2002 and September 2003. Basi also faces charges in the case.
Duncan and Young are veteran Victoria developers who have been partners in Swiftsure Developments, whose projects have included the Ocean Park Towers and Magnolia Hotel.
Jamie ELMHIRST. Witness. Elmhirst is the former business partner of provincial lobbyists and now key Crown witnesses Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran at the defunct Pilothouse Public Affairs.
Elmhirst was subpoenaed to testify in the case three months before he resigned as president of the Liberal Party of Canada's B.C. branch. Senior federal Conservative John Reynolds criticized the federal Liberals for the "embarrassing" failure to remove Elmhirst after he was subpoenaed.
Elmhirst has been an aide to B.C. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell, to former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Joyce Murray -- now a federal Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra -- and to former federal Liberal cabinet minister David Anderson. He joined Mark Marissen in supporting Stéphane Dion's federal Liberal leadership campaign.
John ESSON. Lawyer. Esson has been representing probable witness and ex-Deputy Premier Christy Clark in BC Supreme Court, in particular around disclosure of BC Liberal MLA emails, since August 2009.
Kevin FALCON. Cabinet minister, probable witness.The combative and highly partisan Transportation minister had to cancel the second part of the B.C. Rail privatization -- of the Roberts Bank Port Subdivision spur line worth $70 million -- in 2004 when RCMP informed the government the process was tainted after the B.C. legislature raid.
Falcon has been deep into the B.C. Rail file ever since, and would be a prime witness for the defence to get at.
Frank FALZON. B.C. government lawyer. Victoria lawyer Falzon recently came onto the scene -- by phone in B.C. Supreme Court -- representing the legislative branch of government, including the speaker and clerk of the legislature.
Mike FARNWORTH. NDP MLA. Farnworth is one of two NDP critics -- the other being Leonard Krog -- who regularly show up in B.C. Supreme Court and issue news releases on the B.C. legislature raid.
Keith FRASER. Media.The Province court reporter regularly covers the Basi-Virk case.
Mr. FLOATIE. Possible witness.The irrepressible Iain Hunter of the Victoria Times-Colonist speculated that the secret witness whose identity special prosecutor Bill Berardino is going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to protect is none other than Mr. Floatie, the piece of human poo who protested Victoria's lack of sewage treatment!
Of course, if that turns out to be true, Hunter will be headed for jail, as speculating on who the secret witness might be is subject to strong contempt-of-court charges -- and I know, because on legal advice I killed a 24 hours newspaper column that did just that.
The GAZETTEER. Media. Another blogger with a keen interest in the case, The Gazetteer prefers to not be named, and as well as following Bobby Virk, also writes about Bobby Orr!
Neal HALL. Media.The Vancouver Sun's veteran court reporter takes in as much of the Basi-Virk case as he's able to while still covering other high-profile trials.
Claire HATCHER. Defence lawyer. Hatcher is Michael Bolton's associate lawyer in defending David Basi.
David HARRIS. Special prosecutor team. Harris is law partner of Bill Berardino and had some early interactions with RCMP before the legislature raid -- including telling them directly to not link it with "organized crime" -- which they did anyway. Harris has had no apparent role in recent years.
Dave HAYER. B.C. Liberal MLA.Hayer made a key mistake when his name came up during pre-trial hearings this year -- he declined to comment, saying the matter was before the courts -- something Attorney General Wally Oppal and Premier Gordon Campbell have done regularly.
But after seeing multiple media reports after defence lawyer Michael Bolton said in court that the RCMP had investigated Hayer in connection to an ICBC matter allegedly also involving David Basi, the Surrey Tynehead MLA reversed himself and the RCMP did the same, issuing a news release saying the allegations against Hayer were "unsubstantiated."
Mark HUME. Media.The Globe and Mail's Hume is one of the few regulars at B.C. Supreme Court covering this case.
Joy ILLINGTON. Possible witness.The former deputy cabinet secretary and current deputy cabinet secretary, Elizabeth MacMillan, may both be cross-examined by defence lawyers regarding who in the provincial government was giving instructions on disclosure of evidence and cabinet privilege.
Illington's name also came up when special prosecutor team member Janet Winteringham disclosed what documents it alleges were seized to prosecute the accused.
"A confidential memo from Ms. Illington to Judith Reid located at Pilothouse and Basi's residence," Winteringham told the court.
Brian KIERAN. Key Crown witness.The former Province columnist-turned-provincial lobbyist was partners with fellow key Crown witness Erik Bornmann and Jamie Elmhirst in Pilothouse Public Affairs. Pilothouse's offices and Bornmann's Vancouver home office were searched by police in conjunction with the B.C. legislature raid in December 2003.
Kieran -- whose Legislature Press Gallery nickname was "Fang" -- wrote a political column for years before retiring to become a lobbyist -- and a very successful one, using his many government and industry contacts to build a significant business.
Kieran's clients included the Certified General Accountants Association of B.C., the Council of Forest Industries, the B.C. Real Estate Association, Merck Frosst Canada, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and the Employers Forum of B.C.
But it was Kieran and Bornmann's role as the registered lobbyists for OmniTRAX, the Denver-based corporation that was bidding to buy B.C. Rail, that brought them notoriety.
In documents released in court, police allege that Bornmann and Kieran gave David Basi and Bob Virk $30,000 in exchange for documents and information about the B.C. Rail privatization process.
Kieran told the Province in 2006 that the warrants might "lead to assumptions" that would not be made if the full facts were available, and that he has co-operated fully with the prosecution.
Lyall KNOTT. Possible witness. Knott is a prominent Vancouver lawyer whose name is listed by police in a search warrant information-to-obtain, but his name does not appear elsewhere in the document.
The defence has alleged that conversations between Knott and David Basi are among wiretap evidence collected by police, although there have been no allegations of wrongdoing on Knott's part, and that those wiretaps may have violated the Canadian Charter of Rights.
Knott is well connected to both the B.C. Liberal Party and federal Conservative Party and well known as the longtime Vancouver Canucks lawyer who was heavily involved in the disputed sale of the team to Francisco Aquilini.
Leonard KROG. NDP MLA. As critic for the attorney general's ministry, Krog is regularly on his feet in the B.C. legislature during question period, demanding answers from Wally Oppal. But Oppal's nickname "Stonewally" gives some idea how often those answers are fulsome or illuminating.
The Nanaimo NDP MLA also posed to the government a very useful set of 70 -- count 'em -- questions about the Basi-Virk case. Most remain unanswered.
The MacDUFF Brothers. Possible witnesses.The mysterious MacDuff brothers of Victoria pop up occasionally in courtroom discussion but it is never really clear why. There is a MacDuffco Manufacturing Inc., "manufacturer of the Ultra-Fin Heating System, the latest technological innovation in hydronic radiant floor heating." Is this the connection? And if so, go figure.
George MACINTOSH. Lawyer, possible witness. Macintosh is a prominent Vancouver lawyer who represented lobbyist Erik Bornmann in negotiating a deal to become a key Crown witness and avoid possible prosecution for allegedly bribing David Basi and Bob Virk. The defence has been demanding information about that deal.
Andi MacKAY. Special prosecutor team. A member of special prosecutor Bill Berardino's law firm and courtroom regular.
Anne MacKENZIE. Presiding BC Supreme Court Judge. Justice MacKenzie took over the reins of the "Trial That Never Begins" in August after Justice Elizabeth Bennett was promoted in May 2009 to the BC Court of Appeal.
MacKenzie is not a well-known judge compared to Bennett but has recently been involved in a few high-profile cases. MacKenzie drew the ire of the RCMP when she acquitted a Hells Angels' member of cocaine possession and therefore also RCMP allegations that the motorcycle club is a "criminal organization".
The RCMP were openly critical of MacKenzie, who threw a wrench in their 2-year, $10 million investigation when she acquitted senior HA member David Francis Giles.
"I am very, very disappointed," RCMP Chief Superintendent Bob Paulson, who headed the police operation, told CTV News. "I strongly disagree with the judge's decision."
Kevin McCULLOUGH. Defence lawyer.The combative McCullough represents Bob Virk and is a veteran criminal lawyer based in Victoria. He has defended those accused in several high profile murder, sexual assault and dangerous offender cases. McCullough almost never speaks on the record outside court.
John McLERNON. B.C. Rail Chair, probable witness. McLernon was integral to the privatization process and is a key Gordon Campbell appointee. He is now also chair of the B.C. Lottery Corporation.
Mark MARISSEN. Federal Liberal Party, probable witness. Marissen is a prominent federal Liberal Party strategist who was former prime minister Paul Martin's leadership campaign and election lieutenant in B.C., campaign manager for Stéphane Dion's upset Liberal leadership win and is the estranged husband of CKNW radio host Christy Clark, the former B.C. Liberal deputy premier and Education minister.
Marissen is also a communications and strategy consultant whose firm, Burrard Communications, does corporate communications, advocacy and public policy development. From 1999 to 2005, Marissen was a registered federal lobbyist with a wide range of clients, including Teck Cominco, TransLink, B.C. Ferries, Vancouver International Airport and Lafarge Canada.
Marissen was Martin's main man in his successful efforts to unseat Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in a bruising internal party battle that created ongoing animosity between the two sides.
Marissen worked with David Basi to take control of federal Liberal riding associations in a campaign that saw party membership in B.C. skyrocket from about 4,000 to 33,000 in just over a year.
That vicious fight perhaps climaxed when Liberal cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal lost control of his own Vancouver South-Burnaby riding executive, blaming Basi for the situation and his boss, then-Finance minister Gary Collins, for not controlling him.
Federal Liberal hardball operative and Jean Chrétien backer Warren Kinsella was so disgusted, he says he almost quit the Liberals because of the nasty takeover by the Martin forces in November 2002:
"For me, this week's controversy stirred memories of one dark evening, approximately three years ago, when I very nearly quit the Liberal Party of Canada.
"It was the night that Mr. Martin's British Columbia apparatchiks took over the riding association of former cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal, knowing (a) Mr. Dhaliwal was out of the country; and (b) his wife was dying of cancer.
"Having written a book with the title Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics, and having seen more than a few political donnybrooks in my day, I cannot claim to believe that politics is ever played with the Marquess of Queensbury rulebook. It is not, it has never been, and it never will be.
"But to humiliate a cabinet colleague whose wife was dying of cancer? I've witnessed a lot of political thuggery, but I had never before seen anything as disgusting as that. It was only a friend in Ottawa who talked me out of quitting the Liberal party, on that night."
While Marissen was initially lionized for this role in the surprise Dion leadership win, it subsequently turned into a Pyrrhic victory as the compromise Liberal winner led his party into a disastrous 2008 election loss. Marissen reportedly joined the Michael Ignatieff team before the caucus selected him as interim leader.
Paul MARTIN. Federal Liberal party. The former prime minister of Canada has strong ties to both Mark Marissen -- who was his leadership and election campaign chief in B.C. -- and Erik Bornmann, the Crown's key witness and Martin's former assistant when he was finance minister.
Martin benefited from the organizing muscle of David Basi in a host of Liberal riding associations that were taken over to support his leadership bid.
Robin MATHEWS. Media. The retired Canadian studies professor is a regular observer at the B.C. Supreme Court pre-trial hearings and writes website reports for BC Mary's blog and Vive Le Canada. Mathews tends towards the view that the courts are doing a terrible job with this case -- he has written to Justice Elizabeth Bennett to complain on occasion -- and is more impressionistic than reportorial in his postings, but a good read nonetheless and always a dapper and amiable fellow at court.
Jessica McDONALD. Ex-B.C. government, possible witness. McDonald was Deputy Minister to Premier Gordon Campbell until October 2009 and may be called by the defence to testify on disclosure of evidence issues. Her husband Mike McDonald was formerly caucus communications director for the B.C. Liberals and is another likely witness.
Mike McDONALD. Ex-B.C. government, probable witness. McDonald was caucus communications director for several years, including the key period leading up to and through the B.C. Rail privatization. He left government in 2003 but his wife Jessica McDonald was Premier Gordon Campbell's senior deputy minister until October 2009 - the most powerful bureaucrat in Victoria.
Defence lawyers have alleged that Mike McDonald was involved in political dirty tricks with David Basi, including stacking talk radio shows with phoney callers affiliated with the B.C. Liberals.
McDonald has been associated with Gordon Campbell since 1992, when he worked in the then-Vancouver mayor's office, and in 2006 co-chaired the B.C. campaign for Liberal leadership candidate Bob Rae. McDonald currently runs a consulting firm called Rosedeer Strategies and works with Innovative Research Group on public opinion research in B.C. with Innovative's Greg Lyle, former chief of staff to Gordon Campbell when he was opposition leader.
Mike MORTON. B.C. government, probable witness. Morton was press secretary to Premier Gordon Campbell for many years and, the defence alleges, was involved in dirty tricks co-ordinated out of the premier's office with David Basi.
In April 2007 defence lawyer Kevin McCullough quoted from an e-mail he alleged came from Morton to Basi.
"The first of these e-mails is from Mike Morton in the premier's office. It's dated March 11, 2002," McCullough said.
"'Thanks Dave -- I'll let the premier know your team is in place, whereas MM's is not. The premier will be on John McComb's show -- there will be a call-in,'" McCullough read in court.
McComb is a radio talk show host at CKNW AM 980. It is not clear if the "MM" is Mike McDonald, the former B.C. Liberal caucus communications director in Victoria, but McDonald was referred to repeatedly by McCullough.
David MULRONEY. Lawyer for Department of Justice. Victoria lawyer Mulroney advised the RCMP on how to get its wiretaps on David Basi's cell phone authorized by a Supreme Court justice in 2003, according to allegations in court by Bob Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough.
Mulroney was a federal Liberal party candidate in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands in 2004 and again in Victoria in the 2006 election, losing both bids for political office.
Sean Holman of Public Eye Online and 24 Hours reported in May 2004 that Mulroney had donated $3,993.02 to the federal Liberal party in 2002, and had billed the federal government $956,872 in fiscal 2003-04 for his firm's legal services. Mulroney was a major donor to the Liberals and his firm received major work from the federal government from 1995 through 2002.
Brent OLTHUIS. Special prosecutors team.Olthuis is another recent addition to the prosecution and is a member of Bill Berardino's law firm.
Wally OPPAL. Ex-B.C. attorney general. Oppal earned a less-than-flattering nickname in the Legislature for his consistent refusal to answer questions about the Basi-Virk case.
"Stonewally" repeatedly said the "matter is before the courts" in a variety of ways in attempting to not answer even questions that are not part of the case itself.
Oppal is himself a former distinguished B.C. judge who had a reputation for being a straight-shooter with the media, something no one would say now. That may have contributed to his narrow defeat in the May 2009 provincial election when he switched ridings from Vancouver-Fraser View to South Delta, where independent candidate Vicki Huntington narrowly defeated him after a judicial recount.
John PREISSELL. Witness. Preissell is the first and so far only witness to give sworn testimony before Justice Elizabeth Bennett.
Preissell had contacted RCMP in January 2005 to offer information he had about the role of provincial lobbyist Brian Kieran in the case. And after speaking to defence lawyer Kevin McCullough, Preissell made a surprise appearance in the courtroom on April 30, 2007, to give evidence.
Preissell told the court in sworn testimony that the RCMP "didn't seem too interested" when he contacted them with allegations about Kieran, one of the Crown's key witnesses against the defendants.
Kieran declined to comment, telling me then that: "As per the past three years, I've been advised by my attorney that I should wait until I'm in court to say my piece."
Shinder PUREWAL. Federal Liberal Party, possible witness.Former federal Liberal cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal alleges that Purewal and David Basi masterminded the Paul Martin takeover of his Vancouver South-Burnaby riding, where Purewal wanted to be the candidate.
"I was just amazed that there were people in Victoria who were actively trying to take over my riding," Dhaliwal told the Burnaby Now. "Mr. Purewal should come out and clear the air. This was an orchestrated coup, and that's unfortunate. This is the sort of sleazy part of gutter politics that people have to sometimes deal with, and it's regrettable."
Membership jumped from about 500 to 5,000 in the takeover, but Purewal, who became riding president in the move, never got to be candidate.
Kelly REICHERT. B.C. Liberal Party executive director. Reichert is not only deeply interested in the results of the B.C. legislature raid, he is also related by marriage to one of the RCMP's top investigators on the case -- Inspector Kevin DeBruyckere is his brother-in-law.
And the defence has hammered away at that connection.
According to allegations in court by Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough, Premier Gordon Campbell was informed by Reichert in June of 2005 that RCMP were forwarding a report to Crown counsel on David Basi's alleged "media monitoring" contracts with the B.C. Liberal Party, two private contracts worth $10,000 each.
McCullough alleged that the report came because: "One of the investigations of Mr. Basi was whether there was any wrongdoing regarding the media monitoring contracts with the Liberal Party."
In another highly controversial allegation related to the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail, McCullough said Reichert was taped by police in a call to Basi on Oct. 28, 2003, discussing a situation where Campbell's then-press secretary Mike Morton sat with OmniTRAX, one of the companies bidding for the rail company, along with their lobbyists from Pilothouse Public Affairs, at a B.C. Liberal fundraising dinner.
"Reichert says he gave Gord a three-page memo on Saturday. Gord was yelling at Reichert because Mike Morton had fucked up. There was a dinner where Mike Morton is positioned with OmniTRAX -- he's at the Pilothouse table," McCullough said.
The defence also alleges that in an intercepted call on Oct. 15, 2003, the RCMP heard Reichert leave a message for Basi that went: "Hey Dave -- it's Kelly. I want to talk to you about CKNW and the Georgia Straight story."
That likely refers to a column I wrote for The Georgia Straight on Oct. 2, 2003, about the many connections between prominent B.C. Liberals and the campaign of Paul Martin for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party of Canada.
That pre-B.C. legislature raid column specifically mentioned, among others, David Basi, Erik Bornmann, Brian Kieran and Mark Marissen, who was then Martin's campaign director for B.C. and husband to then-deputy premier Christy Clark.
Judith REID. Ex-B.C. transportation minister, probable witness. Reid's ministerial assistant was Bob Virk, one of the accused. Reid was nominally the minister responsible for B.C. Rail in 2003 but Finance Minister Gary Collins and Premier Gordon Campbell were far more involved in the $1 billion privatization.
Reid did not run again in the 2005 election, joining Collins and Christy Clark in getting out of the B.C. Liberal cabinet ranks, causing some to note that those most closely involved in the B.C. Rail deal were all out of government -- except, that is, for Premier Gordon Campbell.
Nancy REIMER. Attorney general's ministry. Reimer is a paralegal who assists B.C. government lawyer George Copley in dealing with disclosure of evidence issues. She sometimes attends court sessions.
Gary RENNICK. OmniTRAX, probable witness. Rennick is the former chief operating officer of U.S.-based OmniTRAX -- one of the companies bidding for B.C. Rail -- who search-warrant information alleges went to a Denver Broncos football game with David Basi, Bob Virk and their wives Inderjit Basi and Armijit Virk in 2002. OmniTRAX's provincial lobbyist Brian Kieran allegedly paid David Basi $3,000 to cover the cost of the trip.
Neither Rennick nor OmniTRAX face any charges and the company has issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.
Claude RICHMOND. Ex-B.C. Speaker, possible witness. Richmond had a role in the B.C. legislature raid because as Speaker he needed to be involved in the police actions to seize documents, files and computers from the offices of David Basi and Bob Virk.
W.P. RILEY. Federal government lawyer. Riley is a recent addition to the B.C. Supreme Court roster of lawyers, representing the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in efforts to potentially protect RCMP documents from being disclosed to the defence.
Glen RINGDAL. Possible witness. Ringdal was listed in the police search warrant information-to-obtain list, which said he was not under investigation but gave no reasons why he was mentioned.
Ringdal was CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. (previously called the B.C. Automobile Dealers Association), a major contributor to the B.C. Liberal Party which employed lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran. The association had also temporarily employed Paul Taylor -- the former Alberta bureaucrat who became deputy minister of Finance when the B.C. Liberals took office in 2001 -- as its CEO.
Taylor's connections with lobbyist and key Crown witness Brian Kieran have drawn allegations from defence lawyers. Ringdal had previously been president of the B.C. Lions and vice-president of the Vancouver Canucks.
Clark ROBERTS. Federal Liberal, B.C. Liberal, lawyer. Roberts is a lawyer, former B.C. Liberal party staffer and former federal Liberal party candidate in Saanich-Gulf Islands, who holds close personal ties to ex-Finance minister Gary Collins.
Roberts showed up in B.C. Supreme Court in May 2007, telling media, "I'm here to protect Mr. Collins's reputation." But that may have been at taxpayers' expense.
"Mr. Collins asked me to act for him but who is paying the bill is not clear at this time. I understand Mr. Collins has an indemnification as a former cabinet minister," Roberts said.
Mandeep SANDHU. Possible witness.Victoria businessman and cousin of ex-Victoria police constable Ravinder (Rob) Dosanjh, who was found guilty of obstruction of justice and given a three-month conditional sentence for counselling Sandhu to lie about where he got $35,000 found in a Dec. 9, 2003 police search of Sandhu's house.
Alan SECKEL. B.C. Deputy Minister to the Premier, former Deputy Attorney-General, possible witness. Seckel's role in the B.C. legislature raid case has come up in court several times, with the defence saying it may seek to call Seckel to testify in court along with Premier Gordon Campbell about their roles in the disclosure of evidence in the case.
The defence has previously alleged political interference in the case by the premier but Justice Elizabeth Bennett soundly rejected those claims.
In early October Seckel was promoted to the top job in the bureaucracy - Deputy Minister to Premier Gordon Campbell.
Keyvan SHOJANIA. Possible witness.Shojania is listed in the police search warrant information-to-obtain, but his name does not appear elsewhere in the document.
Shojania is a Victoria lawyer who specializes in real-estate law. He was found guilty of professional misconduct in July 2004 by the Law Society of B.C., which reprimanded Shojania and fined him $2,000 for breaching an undertaking with a client and for paying his own legal fees out of a client's trust fund.
Shojania has also been a B.C. Liberal government appointee, in the past serving on the board of directors of Royal Roads University in Sooke.
John TAYLOR. RCMP. Sergeant Taylor of the RCMP Commercial Crime section approached me one day at B.C. Supreme Court to ask if I would tell him where I obtained information about e-mails between Erik Bornmann, Brian Kieran and Jamie Elmhirst of Pilothouse Public Affairs regarding Paul Taylor (no relation), the former deputy minister of Finance during the B.C. Rail privatization.
I had interviewed Paul Taylor and Kieran but did not publish a story regarding the e-mails -- however Gary Mason of The Globe and Mail subsequently did -- and I declined the RCMP's invitation to disclose my source.
Paul TAYLOR. Ex-B.C. government staff, probable witness.Taylor was friends with lobbyist and fellow Pender Islander Brian Kieran -- something he may now regret, since Kieran is a key Crown witness testifying against David Basi and Bob Virk.
Taylor parachuted into B.C. before the 2001 election win of the B.C. Liberals, taking the position of CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. (originally the B.C. Automobile Dealers Association), a group that made major donations to the B.C. Liberal Party.
Taylor then became a deputy minister of Finance when Gordon Campbell took office.
Taylor left Finance to become CEO of the Insurance Corporation of B.C., where he was forced to deal with the "chop-shop" scandal, where employees were repairing written-off cars and reselling them.
Then-Finance minister Carole Taylor (no relation) hired management consultants KPMG to investigate the matter and their report found no wrongdoing on Paul Taylor's part.
Taylor subsequently left his position at ICBC to become CEO of Naikun Wind Group, a private power generation company cashing in on the privatization of public power by the B.C. Liberals.
Bobby VIRK. Accused, ex-B.C. government.Virk was ministerial assistant to then-Transportation minister Judith Reid during the B.C. Rail privatization deal and is alleged -- along with David Basi -- to have provided confidential government information about the deal to lobbyists for OmniTRAX, one of the bidders.
The 34-year-old Virk faces breach of trust and fraud charges. Virk was also another federal Liberal Party activist working to replace Prime Minister Jean Chrétien with then-Finance minister Paul Martin.
But unlike Basi, Virk was not seen in Victoria as a major player in the political scene.
How long has Virk been waiting for trial? Long enough to start a family. He has had two children since the B.C. legislature raid took place.
John WARD. RCMP. As RCMP sergeant and spokesperson, Ward made it clear that the search warrants did not involve any elected B.C. provincial politicians and claimed -- apparently wrongly – that "organized crime has stretched into every corner of B.C." and had reached "epidemic proportions in B.C."
"In fact, I can say that we have had ongoing and excellent co-operation from the B.C. solicitor general's Ministry and the department of Police Services," he said.
Ward also somewhat notoriously said in connection to the case of Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen who was sent by American that "the public doesn't have a right to know anything."
Lou WEBSTER. FOI nominee. Webster recently appeared in court and explained that he has been nominated as part of a court protocol on reviewing defence freedom-of-information requests that are subject to claims of privilege from the province.
Webster said he reviews all the documents produced by the government and indicates where the government has removed information he believes may be relevant. Justice Elizabeth Bennett will ultimately rule on release of the information.
Janet WINTERINGHAM. Special prosecutor team. Winteringham takes over when lead Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino is absent from court, which is quite often. She is not part of Berardino's law firm.
Tony Young. Accused.Victoria developer Young and business partner Jim Duncan are charged with making an illegal payment to a government official and breach of trust over allegations they paid David Basi $50,000 to help get land removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve for the giant Sunriver Estates housing development in Sooke. All three face trial in 2009.
Giuliano ZACCARDELLI. Ex-RCMP commissioner. Justice Elizabeth Bennett ordered that an RCMP briefing note provided to the controversial Zaccardelli about the case be given to defence lawyers. The contents have not been discussed in court.
Related Tyee stories:
Rob Kruyt photo, 24 hours
Spiderman in a Web of IntrigueThe Basi-Virk-BC Rail probe may yield BC's biggest scandal yet. If so, meet the Crown's mysterious star witness: 'Spiderman' Erik Bornmann.
Basi-Virk Case Tests Citizens' PatienceFrustrates even trial judge with its delays, disclosure issues.
What is the B.C. legislature raid case?
Subsequently it became clear the search was in fact connected to the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail by BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell.
Two former ministerial aides -- David Basi and Bob Virk -- now face charges of breach of trust and fraud for allegedly passing confidential government documents on to lobbyists representing OmniTRAX, one of the corporations that bid for B.C. Rail. Aneal Basi, a former government communications aide and cousin to David Basi, faces money laundering charges.
The case has exposed the extensive political connections between the B.C. and federal Liberal parties, provincial lobbyists, the leadership campaign of former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin and even the RCMP.
The B.C. legislature raid case is currently in the pre-trial defence application stage at B.C. Supreme Court. The trial itself is expected to last six months or more and call dozens of witnesses, including powerful former B.C. Liberal cabinet ministers, political staff, lobbyists and many others.
-- Bill Tieleman
Bill Tieleman is a regular Tyee contributor who writes a column on B.C. politics every Tuesday in24 Hours newspaper.
Tieleman can be heard Mondays at 10 a.m. on the Bill Good Show on CKNW AM 980 or at www.cknw.com.