Wednesday, February 25, 2009

BASI-VIRK - NDP wins access to 8000 pages of documents related to BC Rail privatization in Supreme Court of BC decision today


The New Democratic Party opposition won a big legal victory in BC Supreme Court today when Justice Elizabeth Bennett ruled that they - and the public - could have access to 8,000 pages of government documents related to the privatization of BC Rail.

The documents contained in 15 binders had been obtained by defence counsel for three former BC Liberal government aides facing corruption charges connected to the 2003 BC Rail deal - David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi.

The documents will take some time to photocopy but should be available in the court registry by this afternoon.

UPDATE - The government documents ordered released by the court will not be available until Thursday due to the length of time needed to photocopy them.

NDP MLA Leonard Krog said outside court that the public deserved to see details of what he called a "giveaway" of BC Rail before the May 12 provincial election.

"We're getting 15 binders of documents that hopefully will cast some light on what I believe is the giveaway of a crown asset that led to criminal charges," Krog said.

But Krog said the BC government could release far more documents if it chose to, including two more binders of BC Rail company information that Bennett today declined to release to the NDP.

"The body that is holding back documents is the government of British Columbia," he said. "BC Rail can release those documents if they wish. The fact that this case has gone on so long is entirely the fault of the provincial government."

Krog said the Gordon Campbell government was using "entirely political" moves to keep the facts from the public.

"Bleak House by Charles Dickens doesn't begin to compart to this fiasco," Krog concluded, referring to the classic novel about a long-running legal dispute that was a criticism of the British judiciary system at the time.

A shorter version of this story will run in Thursday's 24 hours newspaper.

UPDATE 4:20 p.m.

The successful NDP legal application was brought to court by lawyer Mike Mulligan. In court Mulligan told Bennett that: "There should be a presumption of openness in court, including pre-trial hearings."

Bennett was unimpressed, replying: "This courtroom has been very open. There have been very few publication bans. Disclosure [of evidence to the defence] is not something the public generally has access to."

Defence lawyer Michael Bolton, representing David Basi, argued successfully in court for the exclusion of two documents in the 8,000 pages.

"It's communication between a lobbyist and Mr. Basi with regard to some Liberal Party matters," Bolton told Bennett. "It has relevance to these proceedings - I can tell from the date of it."

"I have concern with it being available prior to the trial because it affects Mr. Basi's right to a fair trial," Bolton said. This particular document will be relevant to cross-examinatino of one of the key Crown witnesses."

Bolton did not mention any names but former BC lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran, partners in the now defunct Pilothouse Public Affairs, are both testifying for the Crown and are alleged to have provided benefits to David Basi and Bob Virk in exchange for obtaining confidential government information. Neither Bornmann nor Kieran face any charges.

Bornmann and Kieran were retained as lobbyists by OmniTRAX, one of the two bidders for BC Rail. OmniTRAX has denied any knowledge of their actions and is not under investigation.

Bolton also received Bennett's approval to have a second document removed from the release.

"Binder 3, Tab 3, page 29 is a discussion between Mr. Basi and his previous counsel, Mr. Considine, regarding his employment," Bolton told the court. "It would not normallly be released under the Act. It involves employment history."

Outside court Bolton said that the information obtained by defence counsel through FOI requests that will be made public has much to do with the BC Rail privatization.

"There are a huge volume of documents that will illuminate aspects of the BC Rail deal - it doesn't affect the fair trial rights of Mr. Basi," he said in an interview.

The court adjourned until the next pre-trial session, scheduled to being March 9 with arguments over parliamentary privilege issues and disclosure of documents.

Lawyer Frank Falzone will be representing the Speaker of the BC Legislature, the Clerk and the Conflict of Interest Commissioner.


RossK said...


CP report has the hard copy docs staying in the Court Registry.

Does this mean egregious photocopying fees again?


Anonymous said...

Gordon Campbell's worst nightmare. The NDP have 8,000 silver bullets, let's see how good Carole James aim is!

Anonymous said...

Hip Hip Hooray! Maybe it's Karma!
gordo won't be able to hide much longer. Let the truth be known. Are you ok with that Wally?

Anonymous said...

From CBC News:

"Documents might reveal little
Despite the court order, Krog conceded there may be no smoking gun.

The freedom of information act allows the government to censor or delete documents for several reasons, including policy advice and the presence of information that might harm law enforcement, intergovernmental relations or negotiations, economic interests or the business interests of a third party.

"My fear is there'll be a number of edited pages, and this may not advance the public's understanding or the seeking of truth, which is what this is supposed to be all about," Krog said."

Since these are FOI documents and they are probably censored, are we now back to square one?

North Van's Grumps said...

".....Bornmann and Kieran were retained as lobbyists by OmniTRAX, one of the two bidders for BC Rail. OmniTRAX has denied any knowledge of their actions and is not under investigation."

Bill could you clarify this paragraph because a Mar. 12 2004 CTV report stated:

"OmniTRAX said it was not a bidder in the spurline process, but would operate the spurline for Australian financier Macquarie if that bid was accepted."

It sounds like Macquarie was the bidder, the same outfit that has won the bid to build the new Port Mann Bridge.

Bill Tieleman said...

Gazetteer - my understanding is that the Court charges .25 cents a page - that would be a $2000 bill!!

NV Grumps - the Roberts Bank spur line was the second part of the BC Rail privatization - it was worth about $70 million and was cancelled in the spring of 2004 when the RCMP told the BC government the process was tainted. That's the one you are referring to.

The defence allegation is that OmniTRAX was going to get that part as the "consolation" prize.

The main event was the overall BC Rail privatization.

Anonymous said...

The Macquarie group didn`t win the bid,what did they bid on? A twinned bridge,a new single big bridge?
Febuary 8th on the Sean Leslie show Kevin Falcon was asked if the Macquarie group was the general manager on the sea to sky highway upgrade,Falcon answered,"No they are not,well let me rack my brain,I am 99% sure they are not"

Well according to my documents which I sent to Sean Leslie,they are,I spoke to Vaughn Palmer who confirmed that the Macquarie is running that project.

How is,or more importantly,why does Kevin Falcon not want it known that the Macquarie group is the private partner on the sea to sky upgrade?
Could it be because the follow up question to Falcon by the same caller asked Falcon is it true that the Consortium on the sea to sky highway upfrade get paid after construction costs 100 million per year,every year for 25 years,Falcon agreed with that number-Seems like a whole lot of money for maintenance!

What is Falcon HIDING? WHY is he hiding these facts? BILL TIELEMAN,if you would like these facts emailed to you let me know,check the cknw audio vault if you doubt any of this--or ask Sean Leslie.
BILL,why was this story on the release of documents not mentioned once all afternoon on CKNW,even when I emailed them the story from the Province?
Could it be that Christie was too busy interviewing Campbell,and bill good was too busy bashing Carole James when he had that hero on (MARC JACCARD)-what a sorry radio station(except for Sean Leslie and John Macolm)

So if you haven`t figured out why Falcon doesn`t want anyone knowing about Macquarie being paid 100 million a year on the sea to sky upgrade,let me fill you in,WE the people are lending Macquarie 1.3 billion dollars for the port mann twinning and,are you ready for this bill T, Macquarie will be paying back the province with the money we are paying them!

If that doesn`t blow your mind nothing will.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Campbell and his BC Lie-beral junta don't arrange with the RCMP to just Taser the whole bunch of you Bolshevik trouble-makers.

BC should have its charter revoked and be put back under federal-territorial-rule.

As bad as Harper is, Campbell & Stone-Wally are twenty years ahead of the Tories in the corruption game.

Also forget arresting the gang-bangers since these characters don't even hold a candle to the Campbellite Mafia.

But on the other side the NDP have Ms. James and she could certainly use a major gonad transplant.


NRF said...

I suppose the papers have been thoroughly laundered but sometimes goodies get missed. If volunteers are needed to read through the paperwork, send out a call Bill.

RossK said...

I think NRF has a pretty good idea there.

In fact, isn't that how Josh Marshall et al., at TPM managed do deal with a lot of the US Attorney-associated document dumps down south?

Heckfire, Bill you could even set up a paypal so that we could contribute to the photocopy fund.

Regarding what wasn't released yesterday....

Bill you mention 2 documents that Mr. Bolton had suppressed.....M. Hume noted that the government managed to hold back hundreds....and R. Mathews noted there were two entire binders....

Can you clarify for us, in overall terms, what we won't get to photocopy/see?




Anonymous said...

Best news I've read in years.

First question - How many censored, blanked out or redacted pages?

Then - Can we speculate how much of that censored material might refer to wiretap evidence relating to elected officials?

Anonymous said...

We've all witnessed how the BC Liberals have put the "ownership" of BC Ferries beyond the control of our Legislative watch dogs, MLAs, and now it would appear that the department that Kevin Falcon holds nearest and dearest to heart... the Ministry of Highways..... is about to go the same way as the Ferries. Just take a look at Ontario where their provincial government is just as much in favour of P3s, as is our Gordon Campbell:
There would need to be one person there to write a cheque every month to P3 operators. It seems that they will be the ones responsible for designing, building, maintaining and financing roads in Ontario if the DRIC road becomes the precedent.

Who needs public servants if that is the case. Get rid of them and earn the plaudits of the electorate!

Nevermind that it will cost taxpayers substantially more than if the Ministry did the roads themselves. We will find our P3 addicted Ministers federally and provincially shoving taxpayer money at private investors faster than anyone can imagine.

Anonymous said...

Just curious about comments made by 'Anonymous Anonymously' on another post which I can't find here regarding Eli Sopow. A few years ago I was involved in a complaint about the Weyerhaeuser Corporations use of semi-truckloads of heavy-metal-laced chemical fertilizers in their stumpfields directly inside the Nanaimo community drinking-watershed, which was then owned by them as 'private land.' As my complaint began to get media traction, I was contacted for a meeting by their PR rep, who was at that time, Linda Coady, who is now involved in 2010 PR. Coady recommended that I should discuss my concerns with Eli Sopow, and as a result, I met with him on several occasions. At no time did either Coady, or Sopow inform me that Sopow was working for the RCMP. A friend later tipped me off about that, but it has always bothered me that Linda Coady secretly sicced the RCMP on me, -and all because I was exposing the truth about Weyerhaeuser's pollution of the Nanaimo drinking water supply. Ultimately, FOI documents I received from the Greater Nanaimo Water District proved that the fertilizers Weyerhaeuser used in there were, in part, derived from US industrial waste, and contained dioxins, as well as numerous heavy metals.

Anonymous said...

Considering the Liberals are extremely nervous about this election, if the release of these documents proves telling, at all, it could spell the end of the line for this provincial govt...

Regardless, I continue to maintain that the single most significant political event in this province's history, remains the raid on the legislature (and this trial).

The connecting of the dots could very well expose the kind of corruption that would have 1930's Chicago looking like nap time in a kindergarten class.

Notwithstanding the trial, a full public inquiry of this tawdry affair must come to pass.

It will never be too late.

Anonymous said...

After complaining that going after FOI docs was a waste, Mr. Tsakumis now applauds the NDP efforts!

I think Alex may have broken his ankle after flip flopping over this issue in the last 48 hours.

Anonymous said...

For all you Liberals who want the BC RAIL Fiasco to go away,it isn`t,and if you feel that strongly about it not being important.
Tell your fearless leader Gordon Campbell to state ON the RECORD that BCers don`t care about BC Rail,sa la vie,water under the bridge,nothing to see here,time to move on.
A G T- You are correct,the Liberals are in fear,but they are in fear of Gordon Campbell himself.

My dad ,and after talking to him,I agree with him,Gordon Campbell is THROWING the ELECTION,unfortunately he hasn`t informed his MLAs.
Who in their right mind,politicaly would raise liquor.hydro,carbon tax,and not to mention all the blunders,to do this before an election?
The question is why? My opinion is,Campbell is in deep,he wants out,the financial tsnami heading our way is mind boggling.
If somebody or something is controling you and all the financial decisions are being made by powers unseen,well maybe there is only one way to CUT the STRINGS,by losing the election.

Of course he has to make the loss seem legitimate.
If my theory is correct,expect many more on purpose blunders!

BC Mary said...

Alex Tsakumis:

What you said, YES, I agree.

And I agree that there must be a Public Inquiry regardless of how the BC Rail trial unfolds.

A railway is too important to just throw away with a shrug and say "I know nothing" ...

as is the big, big question of organized crime itself -- has it entered the BC Legislature, or not?

I'd still like to know why the trial of Jasmohan Bains wasn't reported.

Like, sometimes silence sends a louder message than gunfire in the streets.

If Stonewally really wants us to believe he's serious about crime, maybe he'll get this BC Rail trial moving.


NRF said...


Was the root purpose of the BCR sale to separate and privatize its Howe Sound land bank? BCR held vast prime developable land in the West Van-Squamish corridor. Who owns or holds options now? Liberal insiders perhaps?

Is Campbell punishing the RCMP with the Braidwood Inquiry? Reputation of the police force is being damaged badly by the very public hearings - live streaming and pdf transcripts available to all.

Anonymous said...

As soon as I started reading Anonymous who said: "....For all you Liberals who want the BC RAIL Fiasco to go away...." I stopped.... and moved on to

"A. G. Tsakumis who said...

Anonymous 10:35 shows a stunning lack of comprehension of how the courts and FOI requests work..."

You know A.G.T, I did a quick scan for 10:35, twice, then did it again via a FIND command and zip, zero, nothing. It wasn't till the end of your comment that I found that your timing was slightly off by One Hour.

"Do you understand me now? Can I make it any more clearer? Shall I spoonfeed you your pablum since you've made me go to the godamned trouble of warming it for you?"

"Anon 1135: They are long past worrying about Gordon. Some of them new (sic) this was coming long ago. But what were they to do? Resign from Cabinet? Hmmm...gosh I''ve never seen that before...:-)))"

"Mary, dear heart, one day..."
is this where we get to fill in the missing part of what you are thinking or are you going to spit it out like pablum.

Anonymous said...

Actually, thank you, I stand original admonition was for Anon 10:11. I actually agreed with Anon 1135...

Anonymous said...

I am grateful for being allowed to use this space to criticize what I see is the push by the NDP right wing (Kwan-Farnsworth-Nuraney) for the integration of justice policies with the Libs. Now the left's undemocratic forces have gone too far. The party triumvirate - in breach of the Party constitution - has endorsed the Lib appointment of Stan Lowe to the Office of the Police Complaint Commission. Lowe engineered unpopular exhoneration decisions in the Ian Bush and Robert Dziekanski cases. I have attended Braidwood sessions, and the "combative" while standing/"resistant" while prostrate and dying cartoons, have completely fallen apart. The eastern media produces daily assaults against the cop doormat mentality of the AG's office.

Jenny Kwan is a criminologist, who works closely with Vancouver Police. Nuraney and Farnsworth are cop enthusiasts, at least. Their presence on the Special Committee of Selection, should not reflect loyalty to Wally Oppal. I do not like the way self-appointed Poobahs have relegated their own party into a mirror of the Libs. That is a losing strategy.

I have spoken to Poles in the Braidwood gallery, and they want Lowe and Oppal subject to European arrest warrants for obstruction of justice. Are they innocent of same? Poland is under statutory obligation to investigate foreign deaths of its citizens. What if Lowe is indicted, a week after the election is called. How could Kwan-Farnsworth-Nuraney defend their slavish coronation of same in the OPCC process? They made a party destroying decision and all three need to be tossed before the election. Sam Sullivan did what they did in Vancouver; his party dumped him. Ditto for the NDP sandbaggers.

Poles will not forget that Canadian leaders have coloured brazen excessive force with the "reasonable" fiction.,1587887,0,1,polak-mial-bojowa-postawe,wiadomosc.html,1583358,0,1,przed-smiercia-odczuwal-zmeczenie-i-glod,wiadomosc.html

Anonymous said...

Talk about "out of context"

Suggestion to A. G. Tsakumis, perhaps you could skip the use of a date/time stamp in your rebuttals and just give the readers of this blog a cut/paste example of what got your hackles up eg.

"After complaining that going after FOI docs was a waste, Mr. Tsakumis now applauds the NDP efforts!" SNIP

Which could then be followed up with:
"..... I never stated that the request was a waste (out of context). Instead, based on the limited information I had of the actual request, and not having had the benefit (like everyone else) of reviewing the docus, I suggested that the NDP had made a blunder based on the fact that this FOI was more likely to be denied."