Friday, November 28, 2008

Kind words about Basi-Virk case coverage

My friend and 24 hours newspaper colleague Alex Tsakumis has written a fine column today about the Basi-Virk case that I am pleased to reproduce here with his permission.

I am also honoured by his kind words about my coverage of the BC Legislature Raid case on this blog, at 24 hours and The

Alex notes that the Jack Webster Foundation, which sponsors BC's annual journalism awards, ignored my work this year. I have not made any mention of it here but since Alex raises it let me say something about that.

My writing on the Basi-Virk case was nominated jointly by 24 hours and The Tyee, for which I am very grateful - and for their ongoing support.

Unfortunately, the Webster Awards adjudicators declined to nominate me for the Jack Webster Award for Excellence in Legal Journalism, sponsored by the Law Society of British Columbia, which I found very disappointing.

However I want to make clear that I respect all of the other journalists who were nominated and the winners - CTV British Columbia's team of Lisa Rossington, Janet Dirks, Dag Sharman, Jina You, St. John Alexander, Kate Corcoran for their coverage of the Willie Pickton Verdict.

Awards are nice but the recognition of colleagues like Alex and the many journalists listed to the right on this blog, and that of readers and the public is what keeps me at BC Supreme Court and following leads on this case.

Here's today's Rebel With A Clause column by Alex:

Public's right to know off the rails

24 hours newspaper

I am unsure what I find more upsetting: The media in hiding or the public oblivion, as an exact result.

For half of this decade, the labyrinth of legal posturing that has become known as, 'The Basi-Virk Trial,' has snaked through the courts, while we've all been sleeping.

Well, some, anyway.

The case, only in part, has seen the light of day but is not that much further along, in any form of resolution, than it was the day after the raids on the Legislature.

In the latest variant of pretzel gymnastics manifest in the now vaporized past five years, we, the sleepy public, are fed from upon high, by the Supreme Court, that issues pertaining to the arrival of a secret witness to the case, and how this should be handled, are tolerable.

The outcome of this latest decision has, in fact, derailed (pun intended) any more tangible progress of the trial, for as much as an entire year. There is an equally strong likelihood of the charges being dropped against David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi.

Then what?

Well, are we not obliged, in fact, do we not have a right, to know what happened to a well-performing public asset, B.C. Rail, that is said by some to have been sold in a dance and quick kiss goodnight?

Should we not know how this entire affair turned from a drug and money-laundering investigation into one that had the RCMP storm the people's provincial house?

All the relevant political questions emanating from this jagged legal process, too, must have caused the Premier and his closest aides more than a few communal heart flutters. But mustn't the questions be answered to preserve the public trust?

After all, the allegations of impropriety by the Premier's office are serious, are they not?

Don't fool yourselves.

And don't expect any substantive answers from the Premier or his horsemen.

Although courage found a vessel from the beginning.

The truth be told, only one person in this province has a full handle on this vexing and most troubling of cases, as it relates to you: Bill Tieleman.

Tieleman, who writes in this space every Tuesday, has consistently and splendidly narrated the twists and turns of the trial from day one.

On his website/blog, billtieleman. you will find the definitive account of 'Basi-Virk.'

You should read it. Every word. Because you damn well have the bloody right to know - as much as is there today.

And Messers Virk, Basi and Basi have a right to clear the anachronistic cloud hanging above their heads.

Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, who presides over this legal warren, made it clear some time ago that it is indeed in the public interest for this trial to proceed.

So, it makes Tieleman's erudite labours all the more momentous. He has done a huge service to you, the public, by creating a remarkable journal, which catalogues the trial from its genesis to present day.

The entire body of work Tieleman has committed to is the single most important piece of legal journalism in this province's history (although the Webster Awards, embarrassingly for them, ignored him - this year).

No one else has so meticulously followed the case, and, with such care and precision, parsed the sometimes minute, pertinent details from the side issues. Remarkable indeed.

If, for whatever reason, the so-called 'Basi-Virk Trial', does not eventually proceed to the heart of the matter, it will be a colossal travesty of justice that the three defendants may have to seek alternative remedy to clear their names, but more so, if that's at all possible, that the people of B.C. may never know what happened.

Even though it's in the public interest. You absolutely have the right to know.


Anonymous said...

Tis true, tis true.

Anonymous said...

i wonder what Bill Berardino thinks of the public's right to know after he has tried to ban the media and public from disclosure hearings

I wonder what George Copley thinks of the public's right to know after he is able to still claim a publication ban on government emails and documents that Justice Bennett ruled go to the "innocence at stake".

Great work Bill - you have my vote for the Webster award.

Anonymous said...

All very true, but the average person probably doesn't even notice. The longer the trial drags on, even less so.

It's interesting how the Liberals get away with so much corruption and thievery, yet the NDP could never even dream of reaching such heights. I guess as long as people get a job out of it, they couldn't care less.

Anonymous said...

I believe this trial is the most important event happening in the province today! The real truth could possibly bring down some of the more powerful and corrupt people in this province.
I have been following this trial since day one (on this site and BC Mary’s), yet when I talk to people nobody knows anything at all. When I get into a conversation trying to explain what has been transpiring over the years, people seem to think I am making things up. “How come I have not heard anything about this”, I get asked? I associate with many politically active people who I would think this trial would be their major focus yet they do not know about it.
As we all know the major problem lies with the silence of the MSM. This is another conversation that people do not seem to understand or believe.
We have many government actions/inactions in this province that concerned citizens are focusing on. Run of River, Fish Farms, P3s, BC Hydro, Senior Care just to name a few. None of these will bring down the government! This trial should and could very easily destroy the Liberal Party as we know it today. Where are all the people? Is there anybody out there that could cause enough noise to get the attention of the masses?
Hundreds of people will show up to protest something that the government is doing that they do not like yet this case draws 4 people to the court and a dozen bloggers on sites like this. Unions will spend millions trying to get their messages across. Put as much effort and money into getting this fake trial into the public’s mind and many of the other problems could be made to go away very quickly.

Anonymous said...

One really has to wonder about the high profile resignations of Collins and Clarke, the lack of any charges against the bribers, and the rest of the goings on over this trial. That there is a 'fix' going on over this affair is beyond a doubt.

Anonymous said...

Alex - Bill - BC Mary - your efforts are very much appreciated - THANK YOU.

I have been swimming upstream for the past three and a half years through the court system, with my case against every level of government for compensation due to the horrific RAV/Canada Line construction impacts.

This Provincial government doesn't give a damn.

I too, wonder just what it will take for the people of BC to GET UP - STAND UP - STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS.

Hey - there's a song in there.

Against all odds - and with very limited resources - I am standing up for all the small businesses who have been demolished in the wake of this Act of Gord.

Remember that scene in Broadcast News? Where the news guy tosses open the window and screams - "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore" ?

C'mon people - start shouting!

I'll be continuing this battle in BC Supreme Court this Thursday December 4th at 9am.

Kevin Falcon would like to be excused from attending his pendinging Examination for Discovery. We think elected officials are not above the law, and should be held accountable.

Come on down.

Anonymous said...

Justice delayed is justice denied.

And with justice denied, what reason is there to hold respect?

And when respect is lost, the tumbrils roll.

Anonymous said...

Don’t despair Bill! At the rate this thing is crawling along you’ve ample time to collect your Jack Webster award; unless the whole thing vaporizes before our very eyes, which is exactly what Campbell and his circle of corrupt cronies are working so desperately to achieve behind the curtain.

This whole sordid affair emphasises just how corrupt this administration is and how dysfunctional, and perhaps manipulated our legal system has become, and how partisan and perhaps manipulated the mainstream media is.

Apparently neither justice nor democracy holds any value with Campbell and his party.

British Columbia! The best place on earth if you don’t mind corrupt government and a dysfunctional justice system.

British Columbia! The best place on earth to swindle the public.

British Columbia! The best place on earth to give away a railway.

British Columbia! The best place on earth to break campaign promises.

British Columbia! The best place on earth to destroy the environment.

British Columbia! The best place on earth to expand gambling and receive campaign donations in return.

British Columbia! The best place on earth despite having the highest child proverty rate in the country for five consecutive years.

British Columbia! The best place on earth to be a government lobbyist, or not.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

This extremely important issue not going to be important to the public because they are not aware of it. As usual, the media in this province/country is letting us down so badly....with this and other issues.
That coupled with terminal public apathy makes for one sad situation.
Good work, Bill....

Anonymous said...

Susan, that was Peter Finch in Network who shouted that he was "mad as hell." If James L. Brooks dreams he wrote that line, he should wake up and apologize to Paddy Chayefsky.