Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Globe and Mail covers Tieleman and blogging/reporting on Basi-Virk

Today's Globe and Mail newspaper covers this humble blog and yours truly, with Tom Hawthorn's column kindly reporting on the case and my efforts to chronicle it.

You can read the
full article in the BC edition on page S3.

Here's just the start:

For this blogger, this case has just about everything

Covert photos. Mysterious witnesses. A billion dollars. 'We just need to add some sex and it would be perfect'


Special to The Globe and Mail;

February 27, 2008

VICTORIA -- The click-clicking of computer keys could be heard on the other end of the telephone line.

"I'm posting a Basi-Virk blog item as we speak. No rest for the wicked," Bill Tieleman said. He paused. "Four years without rest."

Sure enough, another 1,000-word item popped up on Most of it was the draft Hansard text of a statement in the legislature in which several newspaper articles were cited, as well as Mr. Tieleman's blog.

In this case, one man's blog recording a politician's statement in which the blog is mentioned is not so much self-indulgence as the laying of another brick in a building whose final size is as yet unknown.

Mr. Tieleman has become a regular at court as he covers the case as a columnist for the free daily newspaper 24 Hours. After spending hundreds of hours listening to pretrial wrangling, Mr. Tieleman's dispatch this week for the online newsmagazine opened with a riff on the old Twilight Zone theme........

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NDP MLA Leonard Krog claims Premier Gordon Campbell misled BC Legislature

On February 25, Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog stood up in the BC Legislature to raise a substantial point of privilege regarding the conduct of Premer Gordon Campbell on the issue of disclosure of evidence in the Basi-Virk case.

Krog has asked Campbell to apologize because: "the Premier knowingly misled the House on May 28, 2007, by stating that the Premier's office was not involved in the review of documents when he knew that a process that included the Premier's office was in place since 2004 and continued until at least 2007."

Regrettably due to time constraints I was unable to post this yesterday but here is the full text from the Hansard "Blues" - the draft version of debate in the Legislature.

Point of Privilege

L. Krog: I rise to speak to my point of privilege first raised in this House on Monday, February 18, 2008, and then again reserved this morning. I wish to outline the factual support for my contention that this House should find that the Premier has misled this House and that he be directed by the House to apologize. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

The matters which consolidated this point of privilege were brought to my attention on Monday, February 18, 2008, and so I rose in the House on that day to register my point of privilege.
In addition, new matters came to light on Friday, February 22, 2008, which raise an additional point of privilege, which I will also address in my remarks. I rose this morning at first opportunity to reserve my right to speak to this point of privilege.

The following outlines the factual basis for my points of privilege. During Committee of Supply, spring session 2007, the Leader of the Opposition asked the Premier questions about the process regarding the disclosure of documents in Regina v. Dave Basi, Bobby Singh Virk and Aneal Basi.
The Premier responded on numerous occasions that the Premier's office was not consulted nor involved in the determination of which documents should be disclosed.
I quote the Premier: "There is a special prosecutor involved in this. The Premier's office does not have a direct input into that, certainly not with this government." That's Hansard, May 28, 2007, afternoon sitting.
The Premier again: "I can tell you this right now, hon. Chair. This Premier's office is not involved directly in that." Hansard, May 28, 2007, afternoon sitting.
Again the Premier: "The Deputy Attorney General will determine who in fact and what kind of documentation will be made available within the confines of the law as it currently exists, and he will not consult with the Premier's office with regard to that." Again, Hansard, May 28, 2007.
Last week it came to my attention that an entirely different protocol was developed and implemented in January 2004.
According to an article authored by a Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and published in the Parliamentarian, after consultation with the Speaker in December 2003 the government developed a five-stage protocol to handle these potentially sensitive cabinet documents.

That's contained in "The execution of search warrants in the British Columbia Parliament Buildings," Kate Ryan-Lloyd, the Parliamentarian, 2004, issue 2, page 158.
According to the article, four of the five stages were: (1) a lawyer selected by the government must sever any documents that contain deliberations of the province's executive council; (2) the associate chief justice reviews these documents and decides if they are relevant to the police investigation; (3) if confidential cabinet documents were found to be relevant to the criminal investigation, those documents would be sent to the deputy cabinet secretary to confirm that the material is to remain confidential; (4) if the documents in question are considered to be confidential, the associate chief justice asks the special prosecutor and other prosecutors to argue in closed court whether the information is to remain confidential in law. That's at page 160.
Further to this, I located an article dated January 15, 2004, in The Vancouver Sun, which describes a fifth step that would take place after the documents were sent to the deputy cabinet secretary, who was at that time Ms. Joy Illington: "If Illington requires the assistance of the executive council, she must appear before Dohm in a closed courtroom and ask permission to discuss the confidential matter with the executive council." "Charges expected soon in drug probe," Lori Culbert and Jim Beatty, The Vancouver Sun, January 15, 2004, page A01.
The authors of the story summed up the situation in this way: "The documents considered privileged will go through a longer vetting process that can involve the provincial government's executive council."
In addition, in December 2007 the government counsel George Copley advised the court that he did not begin to receive advice from the Deputy Attorney General on matters of privilege until July 2007. "Basi-Virk defence alleges solicitor-client privilege claim instructions in case came from B.C. cabinet," Bill Tieleman, December 14, 2007 — Tieleman blogspot, etc.

Finally, on February 22, 2008, The Province columnist Michael Smyth reported on an interview with Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel. Smith noted: "In the immediate aftermath of the raid, the government established a protocol for reviewing internal records to see if they should be released or deemed privileged and kept under wraps. Two bureaucrats from Campbell's office" — that's the way the quote reads — "Joy Illington and, later, Elizabeth MacMillan, were assigned the task, but that changed last year over concerns that the process looked too cozy." "Premier should stay clear of B.C. Rail," Michael Smyth, The Province, February 22, 2008, page A04.
Michael Smyth then quoted Allan Seckel as saying: "There was a concern, as this appeared to be getting a political life to it, that it would be prudent to not have the Premier's office involved in any way in these decisions."
Therefore, I have raised my matters of privilege, reserved on two occasions, in that the Premier knowingly misled the House on May 28, 2007, by stating that the Premier's office was not involved in the review of documents when he knew that a process that included the Premier's office was in place since 2004 and continued until at least 2007.
I am also submitting, hon. Speaker, the required accompanying motion.

Hon. M. de Jong: Thanks, Mr. Speaker, and to the member for the submissions. I reserve the right to respond more fully in due course. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

BC Liberals "carbon tax" is really a gas tax gouging that's hardly neutral to ordinary BCers

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday February 26, 2008

Carbon tax a money grab in green clothing


To tax the community for the advantage of a class is not protection: It is plunder.

- former British PM Benjamin Disraeli

With the B.C. government's introduction last week of a "carbon tax" on gasoline, you have two dramatically different choices on what to believe:

1. The gasoline tax starting at 2.4 cents a litre in July and rising to 7.2 cents in 2012 is revenue neutral and will help reduce consumption, leading to a reduction in the greenhouse gases that create climate change while funding other worthwhile initiatives to save our environment.

And the one-time $100 "Climate Action Dividend" cheque that you will get in June with Premier Gordon Campbell's signature on it more than covers your additional gas costs for the next year.

Or 2. The gasoline tax is an expensive publicity stunt that will cost you not only at the pumps but on B.C. Ferries, with air travel and transportation shipping fees, and will have a multitude of other extra expenses - without reducing consumption at all.

The $100 cheque is simply a bribe to make you forget you are being hosed as the government adds $1.8 billion in revenue to its coffers while it gives huge tax breaks to banks and businesses. And don't forget it is creating expensive new bureaucracies that won't likely save a single polar bear from global warming.

Put me down squarely for the second explanation.

Here's why: When you take the $1.8 billion to be generated over three years from the allegedly neutral carbon tax and follow the money trail, it pays for tax breaks that go to the B.C. Liberals' business supporters.

A full $415 million goes to cutting the corporate income tax rate from 12 per cent to 10 per cent by 2011.

Another $255 million is the cost of reducing the small business tax from 4.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2011.

And then banks and financial institutions get a $220-million tax break because the corporate capital tax will be eliminated.

These business tax cuts more than dwarf the $440 million cost of the "Climate Action Dividend" every British Columbian will receive just once. And they go on indefinitely.

What's more, if the idea is to reduce gas consumption, how does subsidizing the full cost of more expensive gas lead to less driving?

And how does it possibly cut greenhouse gases for the vast majority of people who simply cannot reduce their driving to and from work, or who drive vehicles to make a living?

After all, gas prices have gone up 40 cents a litre in the past four years in B.C. - has that cut down driving and pollution? No.

So when you head to the pumps remember whose hand is in your pocket.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Basi-Virk case enters the Twilight Zone with disquieting questions in disclosure application

More weird twists as Basi-Virk trial pushed back again

View article plus Tyee reader comments here http:///News/2008/02/25/Railgate/

Published: February 25, 2008

"You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into . . . the Twilight Zone."

-- Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone

Submitted for your approval: the strange case of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi, three former B.C. Liberal government aides facing corruption charges related to the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail way back in 2003 -- a case that has not -- and may never -- come to trial!

Whether or not the Basi-Virk case (otherwise known as Railgate) has truly entered the Twilight Zone, isn't yet clear.

But it is certain that British Columbia's longest-running political scandal case -- highlighted by a police raid on the B.C. legislature on Dec. 28, 2003 -- has been delayed once again by an extra two months due to additional problems with disclosure of evidence to the defence.

But not before yet more disquieting questions were raised about the behaviour of the RCMP and the provincial government in a new 15-page defence disclosure application that alleges the Crown has failed to comply with a clear order by presiding B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

Among the allegations: destruction of a witness statement by investigators; possible violation of the Charter of Rights in wiretapping conversations between David Basi and prominent Vancouver lawyer Lyall Knott; failure of the RCMP to provide a large collection of investigating officers' notes, e-mails, text messages, wiretap transcripts and other evidence; failure to provide inventories of evidence; and Crown refusal to turn over a "not disclosed" list of documents in the case.

Further allegations include the failure of Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino to provide details of the deal that turned provincial lobbyist Erik Bornmann into the key Crown witness against the accused.

Bornmann, a prominent BC Liberal Party activist who also once worked for former federal Liberal prime minister Paul Martin when Martin was finance minister, is alleged by police to have bribed Dave Basi and Bob Virk to obtain confidential government documents about B C Rail.

Bornmann and fellow Crown witness Brian Kieran, also alleged to have provided benefits to the two former ministerial aides, were principals of Pilothouse Public Affairs, a lobbying firm that at the time was representing OmniTRAX, a Denver-based American railway company that was one of the bidders.

Complaints department

Among the defence complaints: that the Crown provided the defence with DVDs and CDs containing more than 5,500 e-mails from Bornmann's computer without any index. "Each email must be opened individually to assess its content," the application states.

The remedy to disclosure problems, the defence argues, is to provide a massive amount of material.

The disclosure application, which was filed Jan. 4 but only made public Feb. 19, requests access to a variety of documents from the RCMP's Ottawa headquarters file, the RCMP's Vancouver headquarters, an RCMP Special I (Technical Covert Surveillance) file dealing with wiretap materials, the RCMP's legal applications support file and from the Drug Enforcement Branch.

It also details the alleged destruction of a witness statement from Darryl Black, whose name has never before come up in the case and whose connection to it is unexplained.

The defence says it learned of the circumstance from a project room review of the RCMP's "IPOC" or Integrated Proceeds Of Crime files.

In B.C. Supreme Court Feb. 18, defence lawyer Kevin McCullough made clear his frustration once again with the lengthy delays in obtaining Crown evidence in the case.

"The documents not disclosed list I've been trying to get for a month," McCullough complained. "Are there five of them or 10 of them? It sounds like a lot of them."

"These are documents they are refusing to disclose now that are clearly relevant that were not on their documents not disclosed list," McCullough said by speakerphone, his flight from Victoria having been grounded by fog. "I'm concerned."

"I didn't want you to think that everything's fine," McCullough later told Bennett.

"No, I didn't think that," Bennett replied with noticeable understatement.

But Special Prosecutor Berardino defended himself in court, telling Bennett that the Crown has worked hard to provide the evidence from a complicated and wide-ranging investigation.

"I'm now attempting to address all the issues and I've told the defence, if anything is wanting, I'll meet with you again," Berardino said.

"The clean up of all the disclosure will continue. The work should be completed, I would say, early April, mid-April is the realistic date, he said, noting that all but eight items requested by the defence had been provided and those would come shortly.

But there are still other problems that must be dealt with before the actual trial can begin.

BC's trial for a century?

One major monkey wrench thrown into the machinery has come from Berardino himself.

The Crown, he noted in court, is appealing a ruling by Bennett that the defence can be present in court when a secret witness gives testimony.

Berardino had requested that no one but Justice Bennett, the secret witness and the special prosecutor hear that testimony, an unusual request that drew strong objections from the defence and a publication ban on the media.

That appeal, Berardino said, will go before the B.C. Court of Appeal at a three-day hearing starting June 9.

"They've set a three-day hearing for this?" Bennett asked, again somewhat incredulously.

"There's reason for that," Berardino replied.

It remains unclear what impact the appeal will have, if any, in postponing the case.

And would the Crown apply for leave to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada if it loses in the B.C. Court of Appeal? That development could mean an extraordinary delay in getting to the trial.

Privileges have their membership

The Crown is not the only target of frustration by the defence.

The provincial government has to date refused to waive solicitor-client privilege over as many as 140 e-mails that relate to the B.C. Rail privatization.

On Feb. 18 government lawyer George Copley did have some good news for the defence. The province, he said, had agreed to waive cabinet privilege over contested documents in the case.

But the lengthy dispute over other documents the government has refused to release because it cites solicitor-client privilege remains.

And while Copley said he hoped the matter could be resolved, it in fact is being battled not only in court but in B.C.'s legislature itself -- the site of the original raid by police.

On Feb. 19, Leonard Krog, the B.C. New Democratic Party MLA for Nanaimo, targeted Premier Gordon Campbell on the matter. But once again it was Attorney General Wally Oppal, himself a former judge, who replied:

L. Krog: Early on in the B.C. Rail corruption investigation, a protocol was established to review all material evidence for cabinet, client and parliamentary privilege. The 2004 protocol said Justice [Patrick] Dohm would review documents for material relevance.

Mr. Copley would review any relevant material for privilege and then refer what he thought possibly privileged to the cabinet secretary.

The same protocol said that the cabinet secretary could consult executive council about these materials. I'll repeat that last part. The cabinet secretary could consult with executive council, the premier and ministers, before declaring privilege on documents that might be seen as evidence in the B.C. Rail corruption trial.

To the premier -- a simple yes or no: is that his understanding of the process?

Hon. W. Oppal: The member who asked the question is a lawyer, a member of the bar. I would have thought that he would know better than to ask that question. The matter is before the courts.


Mr. Speaker: Members.

Continue, Attorney.

Hon. W. Oppal: Madam Justice Bennett has conduct of the trial in the Supreme Court. It is totally inappropriate for any member of this assembly to comment upon anything that's before the Supreme Court. That member knows better.


Mr. Speaker: Members.

The member has a supplemental.

L. Krog: I wasn't aware that the Premier's understanding was before the courts.

Last week the Attorney General asserted that the process was an independent assessment of the evidence. He claimed that neither he nor anyone in cabinet had any involvement. But a 2004 Vancouver Sun article clearly laid out the process that I have described, a process the government then confirmed.

Since then the government has denied any involvement by cabinet, but now we know that cabinet could have a say in what documents would be kept secret.

Maybe the premier can answer this question. Can he tell this house how many documents the cabinet secretary consulted the premier and cabinet on?

How many documents vetted by the premier and cabinet will now be denied as evidence in the B.C. Rail corruption trial?

Hon. W. Oppal: The issue regarding the admissibility of documents and those documents that are clothed with privilege is a matter that will be decided by the Supreme Court.

And so it goes, leaving the issue to be resolved in B.C. Supreme Court at some time in the near, or perhaps distant future.

Still upcoming as well will be three defence Charter of Rights motions -- which could see the entire trial thrown out of court.

David Basi's defence lawyer Michael Bolton described them outside court, with one aiming to set aside wiretap authorizations, a second application to quash the legislature search warrants and a final third that could throw the case out based on abuse of process in the case.

Tantalizing glimpse

Regardless of the perambulations to come, once again a defence disclosure application has opened a small window on what may prove to be one of the most bizarre and frustrating cases ever to have taken place in the province.

Lastly, it would be wrong not to note that just trying to get a copy of this defence disclosure application itself was not dissimilar to a trip to the Twilight Zone as well.

Regular courtroom observer Robin Mathews, a retired professor who writes dispatches for Vive Le Canada and The Legislature Raids blog run by the tireless "B.C. Mary," wrote to the courts to request the application be released.

I made two trips in a similar mission to the B.C. Supreme Court Registry, where Justice Bennett has said documents would be made available in the case, and placed multiple phone calls to various court officials over two weeks.

In fact, I was sent to at least three different departments of the registry, and staff at each made phone calls to their supervisors, all for nought.

Finally on Feb. 19 the disclosure application was produced. All this despite clear statements from Justice Bennett that everything would be done to make documents public and an April 23, 2007 written protocol she developed for releasing information.

So for now, the ever-changing courtroom schedule appears as follows:

March 11 at 9 a.m. -- A court update hearing regarding disclosure issues will take place.

May 5 at 10 a.m. -- The court will sit for three weeks to deal with B.C. Rail "vets" -- a determination of which vetted or edited B.C. Rail sale-related documents will be disclosed.

But, as always, possession of a ticket is no guarantee you will get a ride.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Vancouver Non-Partisan Association Guide to tonight's Academy Awards

Well, tonight is the big night – the Oscars – and who knew just how many movies up for Academy Awards are connected to the Non-Partisan Association?

For example, it started when new Vision Vancouver member Al De Genova had a dispute with Mayor Sam Sullivan and left the NPA – that movie was titled:
“Gone Baby Gone”

Then some NPA members desperately begged Finance Minister Carole Taylor to run for mayor but when she refused the NPA movie became:
“Away From Her”

Next NPA councilor Peter Ladner took a look at Sam Sullivan’s disastrous polling numbers and decided he would be in the movie: “
I’m Not There”

And away he went!

Then Sullivan saw what Ladner was trying to do to him and they now co-star in:

“There Will Be Blood”

The question is will be there one more Academy Award movie featuring the NPA.

Will the movie that runs on Vancouver’s election day in November be “Atonement”?

MLA Gregor Robertson launches campaign for Vision Vancouver mayoralty nomination

NDP MLA Gregor Robertson launched his long-rumoured campaign to win the Vision Vancouver mayoralty nomination this afternoon in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 250 supporters.

Robertson immediately took aim at the battle between Non-Partisan Association mayor Sam Sullivan and NPA councilor Peter Ladner, who is trying to wrestle the party's nomination away for the incumbent.

"We must end the culture of nasty and divisive partisan politics which have divided our city between insiders and outsiders, and made our city councilors and city staff voiceless in the face of an increasingly imperious Mayor’s office," Robertson told the crowd.

"From ego-laden pet projects to disrespectful labour relations, Mr. Sullivan has turned city hall into a source for problems rather than solutions. The NPA meltdown between Sam and Peter is the latest dysfunctional drama to unfold. Does this serve our city?" he asked.

Robertson immediately claimed the backing of two sitting Vision Vancouver city councilors, Heather Deal and Tim Stephenson. Another Vision councilor, George Chow, attended the event but told me he is "neutral at this point" but pleased at the interest in the mayoralty race.

Vision Vancouver's fourth councilor, Raymond Louie, was absent and has not declared if he will also run for the nomination but speculation continues that he may announce that intention soon.

Independent park board commissioner Al De Genova has joined Vision to also run for the nomination after a long political career with the Non-Partisan Association ended in a dispute with NPA mayor Sam Sullivan.

Robertson said he was encouraged to run for mayor by a wide variety of people but one recent incident made him decide to enter the race.

"I reached a turning point a few weeks back, on hearing news about a tragedy in my so-called affluent part of town," Roberston said. "A homeless man named Darrell Mickasko burned to death trying to keep from freezing on an icy cold night on the streets."

"Darrell died only three blocks away from the Lookout emergency shelter, which was full that evening. He died only 9 blocks from city hall."

"Darrell is one of thousands. And I know I’m not alone in wanting this state of emergency to end," Robertson said. "Collectively, we are letting this take place, in a city with enormous resources, with compassionate citizens. It’s time for profound change to deal with homelessness."

The full house featured a number of key Robertson supporters, including former Green Party Vancouver school trustee Andrea Reimer, federal Liberal backroomer and ex-NPA strategist Greg Wilson, Susan Heyes,an activist for compensation for Cambie Street merchants whose business has been devastated by the Canada Line project, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 15 president Paul Faoro, philanthropist and businessman Joel Solomon, environmentalist Valerie Langer, Strategic Communications president Bob Penner and a wide variety of community activists.

Robertson said he has four key goals: fighting homelessness with affordable housing, making Vancouver "the greenest city on the planet", making the city a "cultural capitol" and improving the quality of life for Vancouver residents, including ending unacceptable levels of property and violent crime.

Robertson also signaled he will not be afraid to use his past business background as one of the co-founder of Happy Planet juices to trumpet his approach.

"Our economy depends on keeping entrepreneurs thriving here at home," he said, adding that working together cooperatively is critical.

"My style, whether in business, politics or as an activist, has always been to mobilize the talent and leadership available to create change. To bring balance. To bring leadership without ego. And to get people working together towards solutions," Robertson said.

"These were the keys to building Happy Planet into a local success story. We attracted amazing people to work way too hard to build a business from which happiness flows. And will continue to flow – if you keep drinking our juice!" he concluded to laughs.

A nomination meeting has not been set by Vision Vancouver but is expected by June. The NPA membership will meet April 22 to decide whether to endorse the nomination of sitting NPA councilors and Sullivan or open up the process.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Key backroom federal Conservative backs Vancouver councilor Peter Ladner's challenge to Mayor Sam Sullivan

Bob Ransford, a key federal Conservative backroomer, is throwing his support behind Vancouver city councilor Peter Ladner's attempt to unseat Non-Partisan Association mayor Sam Sullivan.

Ironically, Sullivan has been rapped in the past for being too close to the federal Conservatives, particularly key Stephen Harper/Conservative operative Colin Metcalfe, who managed Sullivan's nomination campaign,

And Ransford is a former Sullivan supporter who backed the mayor in his 2005 nomination battle with former BC Liberal Deputy Premier Christy Clark.

Ransford is one of a small group of Ladner supporters featured on the councilor's Facebook website "Ladner For Mayor".

As of Saturday the website had 76 individuals subscribing.

The Facebook site also shows that 313 people contacted have not yet replied to an invitation to join, among them fellow NPA councilor Suzanne Anton - who has publicly said she is backing Sullivan, NPA caucus co-ordinator George Higgins - another Sullivan loyalist, former NPA councilor and president Tung Chan, Melissa De Genova, daughter of Vision Vancouver mayoralty seeker and former NPA Park Board Commissioner Al De Genova and even NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis!

Ransford was Conservative campaign co-chair in BC in the 2004 federal election, has been involved in more than 50 federal, provincial and municipal election campaigns and currently is a senior consultant with CounterPoint Communications.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Vancouver Councilor Peter Ladner blasts Mayor Sam Sullivan in announcing challenge for NPA nomination

Vancouver city councilor Peter Ladner pulled no punches in announcing his challenge to Mayor Sam Sullivan for the Non-Partisan Association nomination for mayor, saying Sullivan's leadership has the NPA "headed for the rocks."

Ladner also said Sullivan lacks public support and the confidence of voters.

In front of a huge throng of media, Ladner delivered a clear message - Sullivan must go.

"Overall I feel the mayor has lost the confidence of voters," Ladner said in response to questions. "I haven't seen any evidence, whether from a poll or people on the street, to say there's strong support for the mayor."

"When I'm part of a team and I see the ship headed for the rocks, I feel an obligation to change course," Ladner said.

Ladner, in his second term as councilor, refused to speculate on whether he would run as an independent candidate for mayor if NPA members refuse to open up the nomination process at an Annual General Meeting scheduled for April 22. But he did not specifically rule it out either.

Currently the NPA "green light" policy protects all incumbents from nomination challenges provided they meet criteria set by the party. Ladner wants that policy overturned by the membership, which would have to open all nominations to competition, not just the mayoralty nomination.

In his prepared statement Ladner said he wants to end the "petty bickering that has characterized city hall" and put the non-partisan back in the Non-Partisan Association.

Vision Vancouver councilor Raymond Louie and Sullivan spokesperson David Hurford, although speaking separately after the event, had similar perspectives.

"Councilor Ladner has the same voting record as the mayor," Louie said.

Hurford echoed that. "Councilor Ladner has voted with the mayor on every major issue," he claimed.

But earlier Ladner spelled out what he saw as several differences with Sullivan, saying he opposed the mayor's controversial personal trademarking of the term "eco-density", that he supported returning savings from last year's bitter CUPE strike to taxpayers while Sullivan did not, and that Sullivan voted against the downtown eastside Woodward's project while Ladner supported it.

Hurford said Sullivan retains solid support from NPA elected officials.

"The caucus members, other than Mr. Ladner, are supporting the mayor," he told reporters.

But several NPA elected officials have called for an open nomination process, including Park Board Commissioner Ian Robertson and School Board Trustee Eleanor Gregory.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Premier Gordon Campbell a political chameleon - from budget slasher to big government guy

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday February 19, 2008

Can't trust chameleon Campbell


We intend to be a lean and efficient government.

- Premier Gordon Campbell, letter to cabinet ministers, June 25, 2001

What the heck has happened to Gordon Campbell?

Last Tuesday the B.C. Liberals delivered less a throne speech than a surprising and abject surrender to big government, with dozens of new initiatives announced.

From the new LiveSmart B.C. to the new Trees For Tomorrow program to the new Citizens' Conservation Council to the new Education Quality Assurance program, Campbell's plan looks like a politically risque TV show called Governments Gone Wild.

In fact, the word "new" is mentioned an amazing 142 times in the speech, while "reduce" or "cut" appear in just 14 spots, and only as in "we will reduce" greenhouse gases, not government!

Today's B.C. budget will not only confirm hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to be spent for the explosion of new government initiatives, but likely also a substantial gasoline tax increase, disguised as a "carbon tax" to save us from global warming.

Welcome to Big Government B.C. - Gordon Campbell, proprietor. Please hold onto your wallets as you enter.

Fortunately, there is a simple explanation for Campbell's seemingly erratic behaviour - he is a political chameleon with positions that change as radically as that camouflaged lizard's colour.

Many believe Campbell is a strong right-winger, committed to cutting taxes and red tape while slashing public services and workers, based on his opposition days and first term as premier.

And the B.C. Liberals did recklessly chop assistance for the poor, the sick and children in care with a vengeance.

Campbell also began a "core review" of government programs in 2001 that he said would ask "penetrating questions to get at the heart of public policy rationale and need." Significant cuts resulted.

But the truth about Campbell is more complicated.

As mayor of Vancouver and chair of the Greater Vancouver Regional District [now Metro Vancouver] Campbell massively expanded local government.

Surprisingly, Mayor Campbell hiked Vancouver's budget 53 per cent between 1986 and 1993, from $324.5 million to $498 million. Total salaries and benefits paid to city employees rocketed up by 59 per cent.

And who paid for it? Why, Vancouver taxpayers of course.

Homeowners' property taxes jumped 67.9 per cent during that period.

At the GVRD, Campbell presided over the three largest budget increases in the district's history.

So as today's budget speech highlights new spending and new taxes, shed a tear for the beleaguered true right-wingers and business leaders who boosted Campbell into office believing he was one of their own.

Just remember that when it comes to the role of government, instead of a moral compass, Campbell merely possesses a political weathervane, and the wind is blowing again.

Basi-Virk defence disclosure application alleges massive failure of Crown to disclose RCMP, other evidence in BC Legislature Raid case

UPDATED 5:25 p.m.

A defence disclosure application in the BC Legislature Raid case alleges that massive amounts of evidence from the RCMP investigation and other sources has still not been disclosed to the defence in contravention of an order by BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

The January 4, 2008 application by lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - the three ex-BC government aides facing corruption charges - was only made public today through the court registry.

The document - attached in full below in JPEG form - click on each page to see in larger format - cites a litany of missing RCMP officers' notes, wiretap transcripts, computer emails, questions about a deal with key Crown witness Erik Bornmann, a former provincial lobbyist and much more.

The remedies sought by the defence demand full disclosure of the missing information, including such items as a briefing note prepared for former RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli; complete inventories of all materials in the Ottawa and Vancouver RCMP headquarters offices and full details of the Bornmann deal.

However special prosecutor Bill Berardino said Monday in court that he has complied with all but eight items requested by the defence and is working to provide those shortly.

The application also alleges that a witness statement was destroyed by investigators, that calls between David Basi and prominent Vancouver lawyer Lyall Knott were taped in possible violation of the Charter of Rights and demands release of a witness statement giving an “opinion of two witnesses on the condition of anonymity.”

The allegedly destroyed witness statement came from a Darryl Black and the defence says it learned of the circumstance from a project room review of the RCMP's "IPOC" or Integrated Proceeds Of Crime files. There is no indication as to who Black is or what his possible connection to the case could be.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Basi-Virk - Hearings delayed till May 5, BC government waives cabinet privilege, defence concerned with undisclosed documents


By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist

The trial of three former B.C. government aides facing corruption charges has once again been delayed by at least two months due to problems with the disclosure of evidence to defence lawyers.

BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett was told that pre-trial disclosure hearings previously scheduled for March will instead begin on May 5 with the agreement of the Crown and defence counsel for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi.

And George Copley, a provincial government lawyer, told Bennett that cabinet privilege will be waived over a number of documents related to the $1 billion BC Rail privatization, giving the defence access to them without a court ruling.

But a dispute over other documents the government has refused to release, citing solicitor-client privilege, has not been resolved.

Outside court Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton said a defence disclosure application filed January 4 requests access to a variety of documents from the RCMP's Ottawa headquarters file, the RCMP's Vancouver headquarters, an RCMP Special I [Technical Covert Surveillance] file dealing with wiretap materials, the RCMP's legal applications support file and from the Drug Enforcement Branch.

Bennett approved the public release of the disclosure application but copies were not available by deadline.

Another delay in the trial may come from a Crown appeal of Bennett’s ruling that the defence can be present in court when a secret witness gives testimony. Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino said a B.C. Court of Appeal hearing will be held June 9 on the matter.

Virk’s lawyer Kevin McCullough also complained to Bennett that defence efforts to obtain a “not disclosed” list of documents from the Crown has been repeatedly ignored.

“These are documents they are refusing to disclose now that are clearly relevant,” McCullough said. “I’m concerned.”

Following McCullough's interjections, Bennett agreed that a short update hearing be held on March 11 at 9 a.m.

NOTE - A shorter version of this report was published in 24 hours Tuesday.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tieleman back from Mexico

Hola amigos y amigas! I'm back from a great vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and back at it, once I finish that last margarita!

There's a big debate on this blog over Afghanistan and Canada's military mission there following my column on this topic Tuesday in 24 hours. Ian King from 24 hours and Terry Glavin from the Georgia Straight have at me and others - I'll respond shortly.

And watch for Basi-Virk case coverage Monday February 18 - my birthday! - and BC budget coverage and another column on Tuesday February 19.

I'll be back on CKNW's The Bill Good Show on Monday morning at 10 a.m. with Norman Spector as well.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Afghan Member of Parliament shows why Canadian troops should leave Afghanistan

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday February 12, 2008

Get out of A-stan already


You cannot hide the sun. Truth is truth and truth is very powerful - but it is very risky.

- Afghanistan Member of Parliament Malalai Joya

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper now wants to extend the military mission of Canadian troops in Afghanistan past an existing commitment till 2009.

Parliament will vote on an extension in March. Canada has already lost 78 soldiers and a diplomat in combat in that tragic country, which we simply do not understand.

And yet, neither Harper nor any government members bothered to meet the most courageous woman in Afghanistan when she visited Canada late last year to learn more.

But I did, and what I heard was deeply disturbing, about Canada's role and about the Afghanistan government we support.

Malalai Joya is an elected member of the Wolesi Jirga, the Afghani parliament, a 29-year-old woman who has already faced four assassination attempts and numerous death threats.

Why? Because she is fearless in speaking out against the current Afghanistan government of President Hamid Karzai and the warlords and druglords who are current legislators.

Her criticism caused the Wolesi Jirga to undemocratically suspend her from parliament - but it has not stopped her from speaking out.

And when I interviewed her, it was clear why the overwhelmingly male Wolesi Jirga tried to silence her - and why Canada should end its military role in Afghanistan as soon as possible.

Joya says working with the current Afghani government dooms our mission.

And she sympathizes with the families of Canadian soldiers killed in the war.

"To those parents who lost their sons and daughters in Afghanistan, it is not too late. They must raise their voices against the wrong policies of the government," Joya says.

"We need a helping hand, not occupation," she told me. "No country can bring liberation to us."

Joya condemns the Taliban guerrillas who are in combat with NATO troops, but she also condemns the Northern Alliance, mujahideen warriors who now run Afghanistan.

And Joya strongly opposes the death sentence facing Afghani journalist Sayed Parwez Kambaksh.

His crime? Allegedly "insulting Islam" by questioning discrimination against women in Afghanistan.

"Kambaksh has not broken any law, but he is a real journalist, one who is not afraid to write articles exposing the corruption of the fundamentalists in power," Joya told a British newspaper in January.

Is this the kind of government and democracy our troops should die to protect?

A country where a courageous woman is suspended from parliament and a brave journalist is sentenced to death?

It's time our own members of Parliament found some fraction of the courage Joya demonstrates and voted to end this disastrous military mission before more lives are lost.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tieleman takes a break

I will be taking a week's holiday in Mexico starting Friday February 8 through 15, so articles and posting your comments will be sporadic.

But I'll be back in time for the next Basi-Virk Supreme Court installment on February 18 and the BC Budget February 19.

Hasta la vista, amigos y amigas!

Support a good cause - and taste some great BC wines

I urge you to support this good cause - helping the fight against ALS - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease - and taste some excellent BC wines!

Vancouver Broadway Lions Club showcases over 20 of B.C.’s top wineries with a Wine Gala fundraiser and dinner on Saturday, February 16th, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. at the Executive Airport Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre, 7311 Westminster Highway in Richmond.

It will benefit the ALS Society of BC.

For details and a list of wineries, please go to my new Wine Barbarian blog at this link:

Support ALS at February 16 winetasting fundraiser and dinner

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Polling results often inaccurate due to small sample sizes - but pollsters not disclosing

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday February 5, 2008

Polls don't tell the whole truth


Polls are for dogs.

- Prime Minister John Diefenbaker

Across Canada the federal Liberal Party is ahead of the Stephen Harper Conservatives by three percentage points, 32 per cent to 29 per cent say pollsters Harris/Decima.

Or the Conservatives are ahead of Stephane Dion's Liberals by eight points, 37 per cent to 29 per cent, reports Ipsos-Reid.

In provincial politics, the Green Party is at 21 per cent, just seven points behind the B.C. New Democratic Party, which at 28 per cent is a massive 20 points behind the Gordon Campbell B.C. Liberals at 48 per cent, according to Environics.

Or the B.C. NDP is at 35 per cent, the B.C. Liberals at 45 per cent and the Greens at 16 per cent, Ipsos-Canada says.

Huh? Welcome to the wacky world of political polling, where you can take your pick of results. Just don't criticize the pollsters!

Polling problems were highlighted again in the United States Democratic Party primaries last month, where a Gallup poll in New Hampshire said Barack Obama was 13 per cent ahead of Hilary Clinton just before the vote. But Clinton beat Obama by 39 per cent to 37 per cent.

One big problem is small sample sizes, something pollsters are very loathe to publicize.

In fact, when I contacted Environics Research last week to ask what the B.C. sample size was in their provincial poll, vice-president Tony Coulson e-mailed me that it was just 200, with a margin of error of plus or minus seven per cent.

But their online information doesn't mention that and even says that the results were from a poll of 2,032 residents of Canada with an estimated accuracy of within 2.2 per cent. Coulson said the lack of B.C. information was a "quality control error" and would be corrected.

Still, Ipsos-Canada senior vice-president John Wright isn't impressed by such complaints.

"Forgive me, but I've heard the argument on small sample size for 19 years," he said in an interview. "Would you have us put the margin of error after every number?"

Well, yes.

Here's the problem - a January 27 Ipsos-Canada federal polling news release states: "In British Columbia, the Tories at 43 per cent are well ahead of the Grits (26 per cent), NDP (15 per cent) and Green Party (13 per cent)."

Only if you download online polling tables do you find out that just a miniscule 110 voters were polled in B.C. - and the margin of error is not reported. In italics as the bottom of the news release it states that: "The margin of error will be larger within regions."

Bob Penner isn't impressed.

"Anything less than a 300 sample for B.C. should be viewed with a great deal of skepticism," says the president of Strategic Communications, 24 hours newspaper's official pollsters. "The NDP is not at 15 per cent in B.C. - that's a reflection of the sample size."

Time to walk the dog.

EXCLUSIVE: Canadian alleges firing from Toronto job for being born in Iran, sues General Dynamics for $4 million, lawyer blames US ITAR regulations

Man links birthplace to firing


A Canadian information technology expert is suing giant U.S. defence contractor General Dynamics for $4 million, claiming he was fired from his job because he was born in Iran.

Fred Montaseri, an Iranian-born Canadian citizen, was fired in July 2006 from a Canadian firm that has General Dynamics as a major client.

Toronto lawyer Paul Dollak says Montaseri was terminated by Oculus Info after General Dynamics threw Montaseri out of a corporate meeting when it learned he had been born in Iran. General Dynamics later demanded he be fired by Oculus, Dollak alleges.

Dollak says the United States' controversial International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which restrict the employment of non-American citizens in defence and military technologies, has wrongly cost Montaseri his job in Canada.

Information not published in 24 hours

“I am going to argue that it was discriminatory and that’s abhorrent,” Dollak told 24 hours in an exclusive interview.

Kendell Pease, General Dynamics Vice-President for Government Relations and Communications, declined to discuss the case. “General Dynamics does not comment on matters under litigation,” Pease said from Falls Church, Virginia.

Montaseri said that although he obtained a reasonable settlement from Oculus Info, the incident has drastically affected his career and life.

“It’s a huge negative impact. A lot of it is emotional and psychological,” Montaseri said in an interview. “I was proud of our Canadian multicultural society. Now I feel people judge me differently.”

Montaseri, 42, was born in Iran but has lived in Canada for 21 years and been a citizen for over 16 years.

Montaseri says he met an Oculus Info requirement that he have been a Canadian citizen for more than 10 years and immediately began working on General Dynamics projects.

While attending a meeting at a General Dynamics office in Pittsburgh on July 20, 2006, just 10 days after beginning his new job at Oculus Info, Montaseri says he was removed from the meeting room immediately without being allowed to take his personal possessions with him and escorted off the premises.

“When I asked why they said: ‘Because you were born in Iran.’ It didn’t matter that I was a Canadian citizen,” Montaseri says.

He was ordered by Oculus to fly back to Toronto that day and the next morning was terminated.

Montaseri’s statement of claim says Oculus told him he was fired because “he was born in Iran and for that reason, and for that reason alone, he posed a security risk for all General Dynamics projects in which Oculus was a participant.”

Dollak says General Dynamics’ actions amount to an “inducement of breach of contract and intentionally interefered with economic relations.”

The lawsuit is the first of its kind in Canada, Dollak said, although there have been other examples of Canadian workers with dual citizenship being denied ITAR security clearance on U.S. military projects in Canada.

In January a Haitian-born Canadian citizen reached a settlement with Bell Helicopter Textron Canada after he was refused a position in its internship program. That settlement ends the worker’s discrimination complaint to the Quebec Human Rights Commission.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Take Charge! Rally today to oppose privatization of power in BC

I am pleased to be speaking today at 1 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery steps off Robson Street as part of the Take Charge events across BC. Here are details for Vancouver:

Saturday February 2
Education and RALLY!

Bill Tieleman (political commentator), Joe Foy (Western Canada Wilderness Committee), Shane Simpson, MLA, Tom Rankin (Save Our Rivers Society), music and theatre as well as information and take action pieces!

Vancouver Art Gallery, Robson and Hornby Sts
1:00-2:00 PM

Information table will be set up 12:00-4:00PM

Expert panel from environmental, social justice, human rights and labour organizations on run of river projects and the BC government's energy plan . Speakers include David Black (COPE 378, Take Back the Power), Gwen Barlee (Western Canada Wilderness Committee), John Calvert (CCPA, Citizens for Public Power), Tom Rankin (Save Our Rivers Society), Grand Chief Stuart Phillip (Union of BC Indian Chiefs).

Ukrainian Hall , 154 East 10th Avenue (between Main and Quebec)
7:00 PM

The Day of Action is co-sponsored provincially by the Council of Canadians, COPE 378, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, Citizens for Public Power, the BC Federation of Labour and CUPE BC.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Basi-Virk Justice Bennett says some emails government claiming privilege over could be critical to defence

Justice Elizabeth Bennett has told defence lawyers that three of more than 100 previously missing emails in the BC Legislature case she has reviewed so far have "significant relevance" to the defence and one could affect "innocence at stake" - a legal term that would override provincial claims of privilege over the document.

Bennett made the comments Thursday January 31 in the course of a hearing that is preceding the trial of David Basi and Bob Virk, ex-ministerial aides, on breach of trust and fraud charges and Aneal Basi, a former government communications staffer, on money laundering charges.

"Anything to do with BC Rail I deemed relevant," Bennett said Thursday. Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough said in court that 92 emails have so far been deemed "relevant" to the case.

But how important is the "innocence at stake" email?

The "innocence at stake" issue is an important one for claims of privilege. In Basi-Virk both solicitor-client and cabinet privilege is being claimed by the provincial government.

One of the key legal discussions came in R. v. McClure in 2001 in the Supreme Court of Canada, which canvassed the limits of solicitor-client privilege.

The following excerpts explain the concept:

"The solicitor-client privilege is a principle of fundamental importance to the administration of justice as a whole. Despite its importance, however, the privilege is not absolute and, in limited circumstances, may yield to allow an accused to make full answer and defence. The appropriate test for determining whether to set aside solicitor-client privilege is the innocence at stake test. The test is a stringent one.

The privilege should be infringed only where core issues going to the guilt of the accused are involved and there is a genuine risk of a wrongful conviction."

Before the innocence at stake test is even considered, the accused must establish that the information he is seeking in the solicitor-client file is not available from any other source and that he is unable to raise a reasonable doubt as to his guilt in any other way.

The test is applied in two stages in order to reflect the dual nature of the judge’s inquiry. At the first stage, the accused seeking production of a solicitor-client communication must provide some evidentiary basis upon which to conclude that there exists a communication that could raise a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.

At this stage, the judge has to decide whether she will review the evidence. The judge
must ask: 'Is there some evidentiary basis for the claim that a solicitor-client
communication exists that could raise a reasonable doubt about the guilt of the
accused?' It falls to the accused to demonstrate some evidentiary basis for his claim."

The pre-trial hearing resumes on February 18 at 9 a.m.