Tuesday October 26, 2010
By Bill Tieleman
"Tell him his commandment is fulfill'd,
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet: Act IV, Scene 2
At the heart, this case is about Premier Gordon Campbell and BC Liberal MLAs breaking their 2001 promise to voters not to sell publicly owned B.C. Rail.
The real breach of trust was a political one that came from the premier and his government, who committed it against British Columbians who expected and deserved better.
This case is about selling a profitable railroad serving the public to CN Rail, a company that has contributed over $300,000 to the BC Liberal Party since 1994 and whose chairman, David McLean, is a close personal friend and long-time backer of Campbell.
But because the trial ended, none of those documents were ever filed in court and remain unproven allegations.
Disregard media claims that a case which began publicly with a police raid on the B.C. legislature on Dec. 28, 2003 was merely a "grubby little episode" where the guilty confessed to being "small-time shakedown artists" -- conclusions drawn by two pundits who together spent less time observing proceedings in B.C. supreme court over five years than Campbell's chief of staff Martyn Brown did in his short testimony this spring as the first of only two witnesses.
Basi was fired from his well-paid government job as ministerial aide to then-finance minister Gary Collins nearly seven years ago, Virk as ministerial aide to then-transportation minister Judith Reid almost six years ago.
Basi also faced additional charges -- to which he also pled guilty -- of breach of trust in receiving $50,000 from Victoria development company Shambrook Hills for help getting land removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve. He has been fined $75,695 in total in both case, representing all the money he wrongly received.
Then consider the defence arguments throughout this case -- that Basi and Virk were simply political staffers who were told by their superiors to keep OmniTRAX in the B.C. Rail bidding at all costs to make it look competitive, especially after Canadian Pacific dropped out before the decision was announced.
Was this a key point in the defence-Crown negotiations, to ensure that the term "consolation prize" was accepted as a fact even if it was also accepted that Collins did not offer one?
It notes previously disclosed information that Bruce Clark -- a long-time executive member of the federal Liberal Party in B.C. and brother of ex-BC Liberal deputy premier Christy Clark -- was in possession of documents "improperly disclosed to Clark" by Basi and Virk regarding the B.C. Rail Roberts Bank subdivision.
It was revealed in court hearings that Basi held two $10,000 contracts with the BC Liberal Party for so-called "media monitoring" that appeared to be about media manipulation.
RCMP superintendent Kevin DeBruckyere was promoted during the course of the case.