Monday, March 02, 2009

Arrogant BC Liberal government lets Basi-Virk lobbyists do anything - including contacting Deputy Attorney General despite BC Legislature Raid

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday March 3, 2009

Libs' arrogance on full display


When spiderwebs unite, they can halt even a lion.

- African proverb

Will the B.C. Liberal government get caught by more and more spiderwebs uniting?

The release last week of 8,000 pages of confidential government documents related to the 2003 B.C. Legislature raid and the B.C. Rail corruption trial of three former B.C. Liberal aides certainly makes that far more likely.

That's because these documents show a government that arrogantly presumes there is no difference between its interests and those of the B.C. Liberal Party, no separation between public policy and political goals.

It's stunning that lobbyists Jamie Elmhirst and partner Brian Kieran had no hesitation in contacting B.C.'s Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel - even addressing him as "Dear Allan" in an April 2005 e-mail - despite the fact that their Pilothouse Public Affairs office had been searched by the police for evidence in the B.C. Rail case.

Their former Pilothouse partner - Erik "Spiderman" Bornmann - had already long turned key Crown witness against David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - the three ex-aides facing serious corruption charges.

At some point Kieran also became a Crown witness. And I broke the story that Elmhirst had been subpoenaed in 2006 to testify in the trial months before he stepped down as the federal Liberal Party of Canada's B.C. branch president.

Bornmann and Kieran are alleged in police documents to have paid David Basi and Virk money in exchange for confidential B.C. Rail documents while the two lobbyists were working for OmniTRAX, one of the bidders for the Crown corporation.

Kieran has said that released police information might "lead to assumptions" that wouldn't be made if the full facts were available. And none of them have been charged. Fair enough.

But why was it "business as usual" for Kieran and Elmhirst, who continued their business under the name K&E Public Affairs after the B.C. Legislature raid?

And were Bornmann and Kieran, as Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough alleged in court in April 2007, allowed by the RCMP and the Crown to continue their lucrative lobbying business even after disclosing that they had "made serious bribes" to the two aides to obtain government information on the B.C. Rail deal? The B.C. Lobbyist Registry shows Kieran having contracts through December 2006.

Let's be clear - Allan Seckel is not at fault here - certainly there's no record he even responded to their improper e-mail.

No, the fault is with a government and party that have cultivated an arrogant environment where lobbyists can do no wrong so long as they support the B.C. Liberals, where lobbying regulations are worthless, where even the premier's deputy minister Ken Dobell becomes an unregistered lobbyist.

Spiderwebs, lots more spiderwebs - perhaps 8,000 of them.


Anonymous said...

Aside from die-hard political junkies, is the general public even familiar with any of these characters and even really care anymore after, what, 5 or 6 years?

Anonymous said...

What everyone should realize is that when this "alleged criminal" enterprise was going on . . . the very same army of empowered-clowns were working for Paul Martin in liquidating Jean Chretien from the Prime Minister's Office.

Leadership challenges need big bucks and big friends and one thing Basigate has shown is the Liberals think big when they run a scam.

One can only wonder if Martin got to the Prime Minister's Office on some of the Basigate spare change.


Anonymous said...

The problem lies in the fact that the Special Prosecutor did not inform government about the allegations of bribery involving these lobbyist.

In my view, the Special Prosecutor had a duty to inform the government about the actions of these lobbyist so that the Government could deal with any contact with the likes of Kieran and Elmhirst accordingly. The fact that Bill Berardino did not notify the government is a complete farce. There is no compelling reason for Berardino not to carry out the functions of the Office of the Special Prosecutor to the full extent of his mandate.

Anonymous said...

I know you are an NDP propagandist. But all your rants and raves did not change the public's mind. Thank heavens we don't have a socialist running our economy. You NDPers like to give everybody lots, even if we don't have it. The first task is to repair the economy, the second to have a social conscience.