Monday, May 14, 2007

BC Liberal government not talking but listening lots on Basi-Virk case

Victoria keeps close eye on Basi-Virk trial


An NDP MLA says it's "beyond troubling" Premier Gordon Campbell and Attorney-General Wally Oppal refuse to comment on the Basi-Virk case in the B.C. Legislature but get daily updates from B.C. Supreme Court by a government Public Affairs Bureau employee.

MLA Leonard Krog also says taxpayers should not be on the hook for the cost of former B.C. Finance Minister Gary Collins having his own lawyer observing the trial and making comments to media.

The breach of trust and fraud trial of former B.C. Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk is politically charged, with allegations Basi, Collins' former assistant, and Virk were bribed to leak confidential government documents on the $1-billion privatization of B.C. Rail to a bidder.

And Krog said that's why Stuart Chase, a Public Affairs Bureau officer with the A-G's ministry, is taking notes in B.C. Supreme Court and why Collins has lawyer and ex-B.C. Liberal caucus staffer Clark Roberts at the trial for several days.

"The allegation about taxpayers funding observers at this trial while the government refuses to provide answers is way beyond troubling," Krog said Sunday.

Chase told 24 hours last week he files reports to the government twice daily - at noon and after court adjourns.

Meanwhile Roberts told 24 hours earlier in the trial: "I'm here to protect Mr. Collins' reputation but who is paying the bill is not clear at this time. I understand Mr. Collins has an indemnification as a former cabinet minister."

The Victoria-based Roberts flies back and forth to the capital each day he is in court.

"Why are taxpayers defending Mr. Collins when Mr. Collins hasn't been charged?" Krog asked. "Does every ex-cabinet minister now get legal representation even if they're only a witness?"

It is expected former Transportation Minister Judith Reid will testify in the case and other cabinet and former cabinet members may also be called as witnesses.


Anonymous said...

When it comes to protecting the present government's behinds, the sky is the limit, or so it seems. I especially find it troubling that they sre so concerned that a guy flies over each day the trial is on. At 200 bucks a day for travel alone, I guess it's not just "Casual Concern" dl

Anonymous said...

This is a control orientated government. It must drive them crazy that they cannot control anything being raised in the court hearing.

Looking forward for Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Can't remember if this was noted in one of your pieces but it certainly was elsewhere.
Other members of the Attorney General's ministry - George Copley and Valerie Anderson to be precise - have also been involved (more than once) in hearings before Madame Justice Bennett - and they weren't there simply on a watching brief.

One can't help but wonder if the Opposition will mention this obvious discrepancy between what the Attorney said in the House last week and what is, and has been, going on in the court.

Budd Campbell said...

We still need to know who is watching the Federal Liberal interests in this proceeding. No one seems to be asking about that.

Nearly three years ago then Prime Minister Paul Martin fired David Anderson from the federal cabinet in act of pre-emptive risk management in relation to these cases. What other precautions are being taken now to keep the Federal Liberal Party from being tarnished or damaged by these proceedings.

Anonymous said...

Bill your coverage of this trial is sincerely appreciated by all of us who are following this. We can't rely on the Sun or the Province for coverage. Is it true that Bornmann made accusations against Bruce Clarke? If this is true, what did he say about his former partners, in particular Elmhirst who resigned very suddenly as president of the Liberal Party of Canada in bc. I am curious to find out what Bornmann said about Elmhirst and what some of the documents might reveal about Elmhirst and his role in this affair. The defence seems to be onto something when they keep hammering away at this, I think they smell blood. Should be interesting to see what Mr. Elmhirst has to say and what the documents will reveal about his role. With friends and business partners like Bornmann who needs enemies!

Anonymous said...

I just checked out your story in The Tyee Bill, wow that was well written. In your story you quote one of the defence lawyers telling the judge that bornmann changed his story to implicate basi and virk. What is this about? Did he give an earlier statement and then change his statement for the deal or non deal, sorry but I am getting confused and need your clarification. If bornmann changed his story how does this make him a credible witness? If you could elaborate that would be appreciated. I am not a lawyer but when a star witness changes his statement and then you have these murky circumstances about his immunity this stinks of something bad. How could the proseuctor and the government let these pilothouse guys continue to lobby if they admitted, according to court documents, to bribing public officials? Especially after changing their statements! I appreciate your help on this.

Anonymous said...

"I am not following it very closely...the prosecutors are doing their job, I'm sure the defence is doing their job...and I won't have anything at all to say about it until it is complete...That has been my position from the outset".

Remember this somewhat disingenuous quote from the Premier?

Given that we now know he has daily access to the court proceedings from two separate sources - the question remains: Is their a third source? And if so, who is it?

Anonymous said...

Have you ever asked David Chase for advice and guidance Bill?

Do you recall other ink-stained wretches asking this OIC appointee of the public affairs bureau (seconded from the Ministry of Finance to the AG) for guidance, advice and insight into the Byzantine operations of the BCRail trial?

Are you aware of him holding seminars in the hallway with interested and curious members of the public?

That is what the AG says he's there in court to do.

I'm not even sure David Chase is a lawyer.

And, dl, the minister of finance says Chase lives in Vancouver and is covering off the trial to avoid having to send someone over from Victoria.

In case you weren't watching question period this afternoon. No one brought up the disconnect between what the AG said last week about the Special Prosecutor being completely in charge of this case and the fact that George Copley (for the AG) had to ask defence counsel for standing before the court when he and Valerie Anderson attended earlier this year.

The Special Prosecutor didn’t seem to know a thing about it when they appeared in the court in early March. If the Opposition had been on their toes they’d have spent more time on that contradiction between what the AG says and what the AG does. And, they had the information.

Anonymous said...

My apologies Bill - in my earlier post I referred to David Chase. The gentleman in question is obviously the Stuart Chase mentioned in your 24 Hours column.

Maybe someone should tell the Attorney General.

Anonymous said...

Folks would get some incling on what's happening abut this case by reading Hansard today( Monday) Even better was to watch it live. wally kept changing his story as to why that the government employee was doing in the court room. The finance Minister kept saying he was there at the request of the AG's Ministry, The cat calls which of course don't end up in the Hansard final were worth the effort of watching. Seem the media needs to have things explained to them. One can only guess they are a bit simple minded according to Wally. The comments of Good Old Stan hagen were picked up by Wally's microphone , strage though the speaker never ntices was but quite quick to idnentify Corkey Evans, who of course immediatly retracted what ever it was he said out of microhone range. dl

Anonymous said...

Bill, who is this guy, Stuart Chase. I do not buy for one minute the "spin" that he is there to help the media. Since you are always in court has this guy "assisted you with the facts" to quote our dear Attorney General StoneWally Oppal?

Anonymous said...

Sorry the spelling is "hear"

Anonymous said...

I just read Hansard for the afternoon of May 14 2007, Bill

I have a question for you. Do you have trouble with nuances in the court room?

I was only there one day and I pretty much discerned what was going on. Of what I could hear anyway.

I hope this Chase fellow is there when I show up next week.

Anonymous said...

Only idiots would believe that Liberal ministers or the Premier were somehow involved in this mess.

I notice that all the opinions expressed up until now, obviously come from left-winging NDP nuts.

Good luck. The Liberals will capture the next election too, despite all the b.s. regarding this farce.