Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Basi-Virk case raises many questions Premier Gordon Campbell could and should answer now

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday May 29, 2007

So many questions


Politicians need to be more willing to engage in full disclosure, rather than the classic Watergate modified, limited hang-out route.

- Bob Woodward, author, All The President's Men

There are dozens of unanswered questions in the B.C. Legislature raid case, including some that Premier Gordon Campbell could answer today.

On June 4, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett may provide the means for many questions to be addressed when she rules on a defence disclosure application.

That court application in April and May provided a window into the upcoming trial of David Basi and Bob Virk, two former ministerial aides charged with breach of trust and fraud for allegedly giving confidential government documents to a bidder in the $1-billion privatization of B.C. Rail in 2003.

Defence allegations are shocking: That Kelly Reichert, B.C. Liberal Party Executive Director, advised Premier Gordon Campbell the RCMP were recommending additional charges against Basi over his involvement in political dirty tricks and manipulation of radio and TV talk shows; that Reichert asked the RCMP not to charge Basi; that the Crown subsequently did not lay charges and much more.

Here are some of the questions that the proceedings raise:

- Why has Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino been absent from the entire disclosure application, leaving Crown duties to his assistants?

- Why is there no written immunity agreement with key witness Erik Bornmann, a provincial lobbyist, when Crown policy is that one be produced?

- Why were Bornmann and his Pilothouse Public Affairs partner Brian Kieran, another Crown witness, allowed to continue their lucrative business lobbying provincial cabinet ministers after allegedly paying bribes to Basi and Virk?

- Was Campbell's press secretary Mike Morton directly involved in media manipulation with Basi, as alleged by the defence?

- Was Campbell aware of Basi's media manipulation, as also alleged by defence lawyers?

- Why won't Campbell answer questions about his knowledge of or his officials' involvement in media manipulation, when no charges are before the courts?

- Why was RCMP Insp. Kevin DeBruyckere left on as lead Basi-Virk investigator when Reichert is his brother-in-law?

- Are taxpayers paying for lawyer Clark Roberts to monitor the courtroom proceedings and comment on behalf of former Finance Minister Gary Collins, who will be a witness? If so, why, how much is that costing and how long will it continue?

- As first reported in 24 hours, government Public Affairs Bureau officer Stuart Chase filed twice-daily reports from the courtroom to Attorney-General Wally Oppal's office. What other cases have received such intense monitoring and why won't Oppal release Chase's reports without a Freedom of Information request?

Justice Bennett may demand disclosure on some of these questions but Campbell and Oppal can answer others right now. Why not do so?


Anonymous said...

Something has always bugged me about this case Bill. You raise some very serious questions that beg for some answers. I cannot understand how lobbyists who have allegedly admitted to bribing public officials and continue to lobby and ply their trade as if nothing happened. Doesn't this make a mockery of the lobbyist registrar and all other ethical lobbyists? If you bribe someone it should be a no-brainer regarding charges. Its obvious the Pilothouse boys have done very well thank you very much with their lucrative consulting business as they continue their unabated access to senior officials in government. I am very interested to know what the financial records of these lobbyists will show, they should start selling tickets to this court case, its going to be standing room only.

Anonymous said...


Any luck in tracking down whether Bill Berardino was involved with David Radler of the Conrad Black trial?

You will recall that Radler recieved advice from a Vancouver lawyer about how to respond as a witness in the Horizon Papers case.

Anonymous said...

Watching campbell in estimates today shows us that he sure knows a couple of lines and continues to use them. He can't say it's before the court therfore. The deal where the automobile groups tried to get to the fellow running ICBC. His deputy is right on the case. No issues but to err on the side of caution they hired on some oputfit to review things. So Gordos new line is. You won't get anything until the company reports to the deputy and the deputy reports to him. The guy sounded like a broken record. Dobell is a lobbyist just a little slow getting around to registering. Nothing Gordo or his freinds do should be considered wrong or suspicious. He's getting to be very good at denying things.

Anonymous said...

The Premier looked very bad in Estimates. Stumbling around and taking a very long time to answer questions. Too bad his advisors didn’t write better opening remarks – like how the Premier has administered the Government and through that process, realized how much work was required to get him properly prepared. Clearly, the advice he is receiving via “Blackberry” is not working. Perhaps he should start taking e-mails from speed@shaw.ca.

BC Mary said...

Back to Courtroom 54: if Ol' Bill Berardino isn't on the job Monday morning June 4, I figure Stonewally should be hiring a new Special Prosecutor. Don't you?

The way people are disappearing in B.C. is making me nervous. First Ol' Bill. Then Vaughn Palmer. And nobody pays any attention.

Could that be because ... ? Naahh.

I figure they're either on vacation, sick, angry enough to go on strike, shot, kidnapped and/or being held for a ransom which nobody wants to pay.

In which case (ransom) the media should be on it, but ... oh, right. Naahh.


Anonymous said...

I note with interest that at the end of Estimates Carole James used the term “ragging the puck” to describe the Premier’s behavior in Estimates – or as she noted 63 minutes of dead air time out of 110 minutes in the Tuesday morning session alone!

But it hasn’t only been the Premier and Michael de Jong who have been “ragging the puck”.

Let’s not forget about Mr. Berardino who has been “ragging the puck” for over three years. I guess he must be very tired so they sent him to the “bench” for a well earned “breather”!

Anonymous said...

Premier's notes for Estimates as dictated to him by Martin Brown:

I can't recall
I don't know
I am not sure
That's not my recollection
It's before the courts
It will be released subject to FOI
I am not a crook
I can't comment
Its under review I can't comment
Just trust me!

Anonymous said...

Mary et al,

I will call Bill Berardino if he isn't there on Monday. I think that you should as well - everybody should. The most important political trial in BC and the Special Prosecutor is not available? You tell me, why people should not demand answers?

Quite frankly, Berardino has not been dragging the puck - you have to be on the ice to do that!

His absence and lack of information regarding his whereabouts is troubling for the taxpayers who are paying his bill.

Call this man, and let's send a message about the importance of our justice system:

William S. Berardino, Q.C.
Tel: 604-647-4555
E-mail: bberardino@litigationchambers.com

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm me thinks Mr. Kieran and Elmhirst may not be too happy to hand over their financial records. I wonder what they will show? In estimates yesterday Carole James asked the following question:
C. James: We know that the New Car Dealers, with the assistance of Jamie Elmhirst, launched a lobbying campaign to change vicarious liability to the benefit of the car dealers and potential massive costs to ICBC and the health care system. The New Car Dealers, as we also know, are one of the B.C. Liberal Party's largest contributors, giving $320,000 in 2002 and $150,000 in 2005.
So my question to the Premier is: did Paul Taylor, CEO of ICBC and former president of the New Car Dealers, have any role in these legislative changes?
Hon. G. Campbell: Again, I will say that KPMG has full latitude to pursue any issues that arise out of the e-mail. I can't tell you what all their undertakings are at this point or what they're pursuing at this point. I will be able to do that, at the same time as the Leader of the Opposition, when the KPMG report is finalized and made available to the opposition and the public, subject to freedom-of-information and protection-of-privacy legislation.
C. James: Since we don't know whether this is part of the investigation of KPMG, and the Premier won't tell us whether this is part of the investigation of KPMG, will the Premier agree to delay royal assent on Bill 35 until the KPMG report comes in?

Lets see what the financial records will show. Did Kieran lobby "behind the scenes" and receive compensation from Elmhirst? We shall see ladies and gentlemen we shall see!

Bill you should call Paul Taylor our open and accountable President and CEO of ICBC and ask him if he was lobbied by Kieran and/or Elmhirst? Hey its all in the interest of openess and and accountability. These people have nothing to hide - its a simple question. Taylor can't say "its before the courts" or its "subject to a review". You never know what a "blabby Deputy Minister" might say!

Anonymous said...

Come on Bill (nudge nudge wink wink) there is no need to question debruyckere, rcmp officers are above reproach, saints who walk on water, they don't tell lies they just make "honest mistakes" (like Arar, the pension scandal, or the Ian Bush case). Lets give poor debruyckere the benefit of the doubt. In fact I think we should abolish the courts, get rid of lawyers and put our faith and freedom into the hands of such upstanding and ethical rcmp officers like debruyckere, they know whats best and we should never dare to question them!

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Mr. Berardino he did try to "set up" the winning goal in April of 2006. As you may recall, on the same day that the search warrant information was released to the public wherein Mr. Bornmann and Mr. Kieran claim that they had bribed Mr. Dave Basi, Mr. Aneal Basi and Mr. Bob Virk he also "jammed" Mr. Dave Basi with the new ALR bribery charges.

The question remains, therefore, how did Mr. Berardino get this new information – who provided it – and does the "who" have a special link to a certain BC Liberal politician?

In other words, with respect to the ALR charges: What did the Premier know and when did he know it?

Anonymous said...


Any early predictions about whether the wiretaps will be allowed in as evidence?

Bill Tieleman said...

In answer to the wiretap admissability question that was posed, it's hard to predict what might happen without hearing the defence argument to dismiss the taps. But I will say that it is a tough challenge for the defence to meet in any case.