Tuesday, June 30, 2009

BASI-VIRK - Defence gets access to Premier Gordon Campbell, BC Liberal MLA emails with Pilothouse Public Affairs, Bornmann, Kieran

BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett today ruled that defence lawyers for three former BC Liberal government aides facing corruption charges can gain access to any emails between Premier Gordon Campbell, and Pilothouse Public Affairs lobbyists Erik Bornmann, Brian Kieran and Jamie Elmhirst.

Bennett also ruled that lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi can obtain emails related to Pilothouse for 14 other current or former BC Liberal MLAs, including former Deputy Premier Christy Clark.

But a defence application that Bennett remain as judge for the trial of the three aides was put off until July 20.

In an interview after the short hearing Michael Bolton, representing David Basi, said the defence was pleased with the ruling.

"The judge ruled that the email records related to the divestiture of BC Rail and contact with lobbyists Erik Bornmann, Brian Kieran and Jamie Elmhirst be disclosed to the defence," he said.

"She ordered communications on Mr. Campbell's email account on Pilothouse be disclosed and those with any of the lobbyists," Bolton added.

"This result means the defence will get a large part of the emails it was seeking for 2002 to 2004," Bolton said. "It also means we may be in a position to bring an application for some of the records that were not disclosed today."

Bolton said that Clark had not objected to release of her records or had legal counsel at the hearing despite being served notice of the defence application.
Bolton added that the court will hear an additional defence request for Campbell's executive branch records on July 16-17.

Here are dates currently scheduled for pre-trial hearing applications:

July 16-17 - Continuation of defence application for executive council 3rd party records, with a submisison from BC government lawyer George Copley.

July 20 - Hearing on a defence request that Justice Elizabeth Bennett continue as the trial judge despite her elevation to the BC Court of Appeal. Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino has asked that she be replaced.

July 21-22 - Defence application for non-compliance order over failure to disclose material previously ordered released by Bennett.

July 23 - Continuation of the defence application for the business records of Patrick Kinsella and the Progressive Group companies.

August 18-20 - Continuation of Kinsella application if necessary.

Still unknown is whether the Supreme Court of Canada will issue ruling on the secret witness appeal by Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino. The Court does not usually release decisions of this nature during the summer months.

Basi-Virk: NDP MLA Leonard Krog writes Premier Gordon Campbell requesting independent public investigation into missing BC Rail-related MLA emails

Yesterday NDP MLA Leonard Krog, critic for the Attorney General's Ministry, wrote Premier Gordon Campbell with a call for an independent public investigation regarding the erasure or disappearance of four years of BC Liberal MLA emails connected the the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail in 2003.

That letter is below.

* * * * *

June 29, 2009

Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier
Room 156, West Annex
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

Dear Premier Gordon Campbell,

I am writing with regard to the serious revelation that four years of Cabinet email correspondence concerning the sale of BC Rail has been deleted and/or destroyed by your government.

The destruction of government emails that have been requested by the defence in this case raises serious questions about your government’s compliance with British Columbia law and policy, particularly as it applies to emails of cabinet ministers, executive appointees and high-ranking political staff.

The destruction of government records, including emails, is covered by a provincial statute, the Document Disposal Act. The Corporate Information Management Branch has set out Records Management schedules in order to fulfill the requirements of the Act. Those schedules outline the specific requirements for classification, retention, and disposal of government documents, including emails. I attach for your information the following:

· Schedule 102903, which differentiates between transitory documents and those that are “required for ongoing legal, fiscal, audit, administrative or operational purposes”;

· Schedule 102906, a specific schedule for government executive offices that supersedes the email policy and all other schedules and requires executive records, including emails and voicemails, to be retained for a minimum of 10 years. This schedule sets a higher standard for retention and clearly articulates that executive documents related to the development and implementation of government legislation, programs and services must be retained; and,

· Section 4 of the Operations Classification System which details the specific schedule for the Office of the Premier and clearly reflects the rules laid out in the Executive Schedule and sets a 10 year retention period for most documents.
Additionally, all schedules note that documents which may relate to legal proceedings or have legal or evidentiary value must be retained.
Given the events relating to the Legislative raids and subsequent charges it must be supposed that executives as well as all government offices involved in the BC Rail transaction would have been advised of their duty to preserve records. In that light, the failure of your government to produce the records points to a serious breach of the law and policies regarding document retention.

In 2006, another breach of information preservation took place under your government - the loss of 41 computer tapes - and as a result, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) was immediately tasked by your government with a full investigation that resulted in a report with recommendations.

For your reference, the CIO’s report was Investigation Report 2006-048, dated March 24, 2006.

Given the public concern over the sale of BC Rail, an independent investigation is called for in this case, to determine the extent of legal and policy violations as well as responsibility for those violations.

By this letter, I call on you to immediately launch an independent and public investigation to determine the reasons for the disappearance of the emails in question, to determine whether any person or persons made a decision to deliberately destroy these records and finally to determine whether all avenues have been exhausted to locate or recover them.

Additionally I ask you to ensure the independence of such an investigation. Clearly, in the interests of public accountability the investigation must be seen to be separate from government.

I urge that the investigation report to the Legislature through an appropriate body.


Leonard Krog, MLA

Official Opposition Critic for Attorney General

cc: Attorney General Mike De Jong,
Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel,
Assistant Deputy Attorney General Robert Gillen, Criminal Justice Branch;
Minister of Citizen Services and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism and the Public Affairs Bureau Ben Stewart,
Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, RCMP


Richard Nixon had Watergate, Gordon Campbell has Basi-Virk

Campbell's own Watergate Unravels

Alleged bribes and dirty tricks, and now erased emails. Sound familiar?

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

View full Tyee article and comments here

By Bill Tieleman

June 30, 2009

You must pursue this investigation of Watergate even if it leads to the president. I'm innocent. You've got to believe I'm innocent. If you don't, take my job.

-- Richard Nixon

Consider this: a B.C. premier who says he's fully cooperating with the investigation even as tens of thousands of emails spanning four years are erased or simply vanish before defence lawyers in a political corruption trial can obtain them.

It's as though Rose Mary Woods, Nixon's secretary who erased 18 minutes of secret tapes, is still alive and working in Victoria.

Two years after the defence requests the emails in a legal application, a government lawyer admits they have disappeared without a trace.

A former senior deputy minister to the premier who admits publicly that when it comes to his own emails: "I delete the stuff all the time as fast as I can."

Government political staff members who allegedly direct dirty tricks -- like phony protests and paid callers to talk radio shows -- right out of the premier's office.

A senior government ministerial aide who is allegedly paid on the side by the B.C. Liberal Party to conduct dirty tricks.

A former top political aide to both federal and provincial Liberal Party governments who turns lobbyist and allegedly bribes ministerial assistants to obtain confidential information about a $1 billion privatization.

Can anyone spell Watergate?

Campbell: Law was kept

The parallels between the actions of the Gordon Campbell B.C. Liberal government and the Richard Nixon White House appear to be increasingly, disturbingly strong.

Last week Campbell broke from his usual pattern of not commenting on the corruption charges case against former ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk and former communications aide Aneal Basi to comment on the disclosure that emails from 2001 to 2005 between cabinet ministers, MLAs and staff regarding B.C. Rail had either been erased or just disappeared.

"The records that should be kept under the law have been kept," Campbell said, without explaining how the missing emails could disappear despite the Documents Disposal Act that requires they be kept for seven years and only destroyed if specific permission is granted by a special committee.

'May be no explanation': BC gov't lawyer

Consider that Basi and Virk were both charged with breach of trust in 2004 in connection with the November, 2003 sale of B.C. Rail and after the unprecedented December, 2003 police raid on the B.C. Legislature.

And yet the government emails were not secured, despite their obvious potential relevance to the defence, which argues that the two aides were following the orders of political superiors.

"There may be no explanation. No filing system is perfect," B.C. government lawyer George Copley said in the B.C. Supreme Court about the loss of records.
Aside from Basi and Virk, what if potential B.C. Rail buyers like Canadian Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe -- who dropped out of the bidding because they believed it was "unfair" -- had sued the government over the process?

Would those missing emails have been critical to their legal success and what would a judge say about them disappearing?

There is one possible explanation -- that the Basi-Virk case feels more and more like Watergate.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Alexandra Morton on why she cannot keep fighting BC fish farms without more public support

Alexandra Morton, the respected biologist and tireless opponent of devastating open pen fish farming, has written this rather depressing open letter to British Columbians regarding the fate of our wild salmon and why she cannot continue her efforts any more following the provincial election results unless she sees substantial public support.

I strongly recommend you read it - here it is with Alexandra's kind permission:

* * * * *

British Columbia It’s Over to You

By Alexandra Morton

On June 25, 2009, the Strathcona Regional District rural directors opened the door to fish farming on the jugular of the B.C. coast.

Every other fish farm has been sited among braided waterways, but this Grieg application is for the biggest fish farm on the B.C. coast to be lodged where 1/3 of all Canada’s Pacific salmon pass on their voyage back to us through Johnstone Strait.

Sensing some public opposition to this decision the board did consider the risks and asked Grieg to compromise.

But the concessions Grieg responded with are worthless tradebeads of deception as they are either impossible or irrelevant. The media reports they offer to harvest their fish before the wild salmon migrations, but they know their fish need to be on our ocean for 22 months and ours migrate every 12 months.

They say they will have zero lice, but they know this is impossible with the drugs we allow in Canada. And they say they will turn off their growlights in the spring, when they never use them anyway.

I know the fish farmers and I know the governments, in fact they are often the same people. And most of all I know the fish.

There are things you cannot know when you are 20, 30, or 40 years. Every second we are alive we draw from deeper pools of experience. I know where this compromise will take us.

This is how we got all the fish farms in my home-waters in the first place. Greig did what it took to get past the regional directors. They also told me tourism operators love them, that in Nootka Sound they had consulted with the operators and won their approval, but when I wrote to Nootka Sound tourism operators, the ones who answered not only had not been contacted, they did not like the farms there.

A Norwegian corporation has become gatekeeper to the Fraser, East Vancouver Island, and south coast Mainland rivers and our fish are their market competitors.

I have tried to bring reason to the BC fish farming industry for 21 years. My community has been lost. The science is done. The courts ruled the way it has been regulated is unconstitutional.

The people of the BC coast are aware of the issue now. Wild salmon are failing and sea lice, diseases and massive schools of salmon predators parked in pens every few km along their migration routes are clearly not helping.

Anyone who looks can see that. And yet every level of government from federal to regional favours farm salmon over wild salmon. Since this is a democracy I have to assume at this point that BC has made its choice.

There are many places on this coast that government could play with this risky business, so when I see one of the biggest farm applications ever, being handed B.C.’s primary wild salmon artery by the most local, on the ground level of government I have to think “this is OK with B.C. This is what B.C. wants.”

The next day I watched farm smolts pour through a hose from a truck. I could see the Atlantic salmon in the translucent tube swimming above black pavement falling into the farm boat and I thought, “This is what BC has chosen.”

I thought about cool forest rivers, and what the first salmon of this coast looked like as they enter the sea. Feeding trout, birds, then whales, my children, you, and the trees that make us oxygen and stabilize our climate.

Humanity is drunk on trinkets and coins and and can no longer focus on or interpret the sheer power, generosity and our dependence on the living world that gave birth to us.

Is this a fatal code embedded in our DNA to limit us, an auto kill switch, to allow the rest of life on earth a chance against us? Nature does have nasty ways of dealing with out of control species, and we must be top of her list right now.

So I’m thinking who am I to challenge our very DNA. I have no right to tell BC one salmon is better than the other. You have clearly made the choice.

So British Columbia, here is what I am going to do. I can’t sustain this effort against every level of government because no matter how thin the veneer of democracy, you did vote for them, you had the choice and you picked the people who are giving our coast to the Norwegian salmon “farmers.”

If you want wild salmon in British Columbia you will need to roar all the way from Campbell River to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, because only you have the power to turn this around and let the wild life blood of this coast survive. If I can hear you I will meet you wherever you take a stand, but until then good luck in your decision, British Columbia it is over to you.

Alexandra Morton



Thursday, June 25, 2009

Basi-Virk - may be "no explanation" for missing emails & more on possible cabinet leak to Erik Bornmann

BC Supreme Court today heard that there may be "no explanation" for four years of missing BC Liberal cabinet ministers' emails relating to the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail - emails lawyers for three former provincial government aides facing corruption charges say may be vital to their defence.

It was reported this week that emails the defence filed an application for in June 2007 to obtain as potential evidence have either been erased or disappeared, causing a furor with both lawyers for the accused and the NDP opposition.

"There may be no explanation. No filing system is perfect," said BC government lawyer George Copley told Justice Elizabeth Bennett today.

Vancouver Sun's Neal Hall reports today that Copley said questionnaires have been sent to nine people who have searched the files and, once their answers are returned, "we will file nine separate affidavits" to try to answer some of the questions posed by the defence lawyers.

Unfortunately I was not able to be in court today but Neal's full story is available online at the Vancouver Sun.

Hall also reports that the court heard more speculation about a possible BC cabinet leak to lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran - who were retained by BC Rail bidder OmniTRAX and are alleged to have provided bribes to former ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk.

Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough told Bennett that police asked Bornmann if he had a source in cabinet - the answery was no, Hall reported.

But Bornmann mentioned that he had conversations with then deputy premier Christy Clark because Bornmann was a friend of Clark's husband, Mark Marissen, he added.

The hearing has been adjourned till Tuesday June 30.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NDP demands Premier Gordon Campbell launch independent public investigation into BC Rail emails disappearance


NDP wants answers after BC Supreme Court learns that government erased or lost BC Rail emails sought by defence

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours

The New Democratic Party is demanding Premier Gordon Campbell launch an independent and public investigation after it was revealed in B.C. Supreme Court that cabinet ministers’ emails related to the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail have been erased or disappeared.

NDP MLA Leonard Krog said Wednesday the emails could potentially prove the innocence of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi – three ex-B.C. government aides facing corruption charges connected to the 2003 B.C. Rail privatization.

“There has to be an investigation – you can’t just show up in court one day and say the records are gone,” Krog said. “If they are truly gone, who gave that order, when and why?”

“This is important to the conduct of the trial,” he said. “There is nothing stopping an appropriate investigation.”

Krog said the defence filed an application to obtain emails between cabinet ministers, MLAs and senior government staff two years ago but no one has told defence lawyers until now that the emails and backups are either erased or have disappeared.

“Under the government’s own rules and protocol, the premier and cabinet ministers had an obligation to preserve their files,” Krog said, pointing out that the B.C. Document Disposal Act requires documents be kept for seven years unless a disposal order is granted.

Campbell told reporters Tuesday that: "The records that should be kept under the law have been kept," without going into detail.

Krog said he is not alleging wrongdoing on the part of the government but that only an independent public investigation - not an inquiry - will determine what happened.

"I don't know if something dishonest has gone on but there are a lot of questions," Krog said. "The premier has to respond - he needs to respond."

Krog also pointed to another issue raised by the defence on Tuesday - one first revealed exclusively by 24 hours newspaper two years ago.

That came when I discovered that a junior Public Affairs Bureau employee named Stuart Chase was sitting in BC Supreme Court taking notes that were being reported back to the Attorney-General's ministry.

Then-Attorney-General Wally Oppal wrongly told the BC Legislature that Chase was in court to "assist the media" with the case "that's all he's there for" - when in fact, Chase had not spoken to any media covering the hearings until I approached him to find out who he was.

A subsequent Freedom Of Information request I filed and received in 2007, and an appeal to get several withheld portions of Chase's notes, showed that Chase was in fact politically monitoring the case, including reporting on who was in attendance.

In court Tuesday, defence lawyer Kevin McCullough raised the Chase monitoring and said he wants to know who the reports went to within the government.

Krog said today it's obvious that the government has monitored the case for political reasons but didn't keep records of BC Rail emails that may have been helpful to the defence.

"Clearly the government has been paying very close attention to this case - they had a staff person there taking notes," Krog said, referring to Chase.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tieleman the pundit wants a federal summer election, dammit

Two Thumbs Up for a Summer Election

I want one. C'mon, you do too.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee.ca column

Published: Tuesday June 23, 2009

A shorter version of this column was printed in today's 24 hours newspaper

By Bill Tieleman

"I don't want an election. Canadians don't want an election." -- Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff

I'm a political pundit -- it's just what I do.

So when I heard very disturbing reports that there might not be a federal election this summer I sprang into action.

Canada doesn't want an election? Canada needs an election, dammit!

How else can we pundits pontificate endlessly about the horse race, trash the parties' campaigns, belittle the candidates and look oh-so-smart while doing it?

And what else would Canadians have to talk about? The weather? Don't make me sick!

Should we talk about Saskatchewan? The place so flat that when your dog runs away from home you can still see him for three days? Give me a break!

Anyway, I knew there was only one organized crime group that could pull off this no-election caper -- the Parliament Hill Gang!

I had my enforcers in the press gallery round 'em up for questioning, only this time there'd be no scrum, no spin and no film at six.

The Parliament Hill Gang -- quite the collection they are -- have taken more money from innocent Canadians than if Al Capone, Ronald Biggs and Bernie Madoff joined forces!

Horse race list

Here's the rundown.

Giles "Frenchy" Duceppe: calls his Bloc Quebecois election campaign plane "Deb-o-naire" -- too cute by demi.

And there's Jack "The Stache" Layton. Who ever thunk an NDP leader would become hero to every used car dealer in the country?

Layton's about as trustworthy with your family silverware -- he'd nationalize Tim Hortons if he could get away with it.

But those two guys are small potatoes. The Liberal opposition leader is the one who wants to take over the gang.

Heeeeere's Iggy

They call him Michael "Count Iggy" Ignatieff. Also known as "The Professor" and "That American Guy".

Then the gang boss -- for now -- Stephen "Thugsy" Harper. AKA "Little Stevie Blunder" and "Helmet Hair".

No election, eh? Who's wise idea was that?

I grilled 'em like a sockeye salmon on Canada Day.

"Who’s holdin' out on callin' an election? Talk, or I send you out to a media scrum wearing another hair net!" I threatened Duceppe.

"Mais, je ne connais pas, rien," he whimpered.

"Don't know nuttin', eh?" I sneered, showing him my command of our other official language.

I didn't even bother with Layton -- once he starts talkin' he never shuts up.

Iggy was smilin' like a Cheshire cat and Harper, well, I could just tell somethin' was up between those two.

Call it

"Listen you punks, Canada needs an election this summer -- I got nuttin' to write about," I yelled.

They looked down at their feet like choir boys caught smokin'. They knew I was right.

"Sorry -- what was we thinkin' bout?" Iggy replied, dropping his usual pompous pronouncements.

"I dunno what came over me," Harper added. "This cooperation crap is stoopid!"
I decided to go easy on 'em.

"I'm gonna give you till September to call an election on a count of I'm a charitable kinda guy," I said. "But I tell youse, any more deals and my press gallery goons will rub out the lot of you -- now get outta my sight!"

It's a tough job some days but hey, I'm a political pundit -- it's what I do.


BC Liberals pull a Rose Mary Woods - back up email tapes erased from critical BC Rail deal period


The BC government erased back up tapes containing MLA emails from 2001 to 2005, including those of BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell and cabinet ministers

"Ooops! I accidentally erased the tapes."

In an episode reminscent of the late Rose Mary Woods, President Richard Nixon's secretary who "accidentally" erased a crucial segment of a White House tape recording following the Watergate break-in period, BC Supreme Court heard that the BC government has erased back up tapes of emails from 2001 to 2005.

That means no possibility of the defence for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi obtaining the emails to prove their innocence of corruption charges related to the sale of BC Rail.

The Globe and Mail's Mark Hume was the only journalist present for yesterday's hearing and reports that defence lawyers were "very troubled" when BC government lawyer George Copley told Justice Elizabeth Bennett the tapes were erased and urecoverable.

Regrettably I was travelling and not in attendance but a reliable observer has filled me in considerably on the events of the day and I am indebted for the following account:

The defence has served affidavits to 33 people employed or previously employed by the Campbell government - from the period of June 5, 2001 to the point where employment ended - for all electronic records (email and blackberry) specifically related to:

• Email/BB exchanges prior to the sale of BCR
• The Divestiture of Roberts Bank
• Cancellation of the Port Subdivision

Some of the individuals include:

Office of the Premier: Gordon Campbell, Chief of Staff Martyn Brown, former press secretary Mike Morton, former senior deputy minister Ken Dobell, current senior deputy minister Jessica McDonald, Yvette Wells - former Director of the Crown Agencies Secretariat, former deputy minister Brenda Eaton,Cynthia Haraldson, former deputy communications director Dave Cunningham, current deputy chief of staff Jay Schlosar, current deputy chief of staff Lara Dauphinee, along with other employees of Campbell's officeand government ministries:

Public Affairs Bureau

Ministry of Finance - specific people

Ministry of Transportation -specific people

Ministry of Attorney-General - specific people

Solicitor General - specific people

Ministry of Education - specific people

Ministry of Advanced Ed - specific person - Shirley Bond

Ministry of Energy and Mines - specific person - Richard Neufeld

The BC government's lawyer, George Copley, claims that government back-up tapes (of emails) for the period requested either no longer exist or are unrecoverable.

Copley stated that back-up tapes are kept for 13 months for the purpose of disaster recovery, not for archived purposes.

Defence lawyers said: "This is the first time we have been told that the emails sought are not there. This is potentially a very significant matter and major development in these proceedings."

The defence also said they have 4500 boxes with hard copies of emails and other info which was the focus of their FOI. They say a huge amount of substantial and relevant emails (which they believe remain in electronic email format) have not been recovered and therefore are not part of the 4500 boxes.

Court adjourned until Tuesday June 23 at 9:30 a.m., so defence can either seek cross examination of the witnesses named above or alternatively submit a letter through Copley, asking the 33 individuals to answer specific questions:

Were their computers searched?

What method was used to search their computers?

What time period did the search take place?

Who specifically searched their computer?

And reasons for why they claim the emails are no longer recoverable.

Bennett said the issue in its entirety must be resolved before Sept. 4th.

Below are a couple links that may be helpful to you around government procedure in handling electronic records:

Under the first link you will find The Document Disposal Act. Under the Act it says documents must be kept for 7 years unless a disposal order is granted following the procedure outlined in the Act.

Here's part of the Act:

(1) A document must not be destroyed except on the written recommendation of the Public Documents Committee, which consists of the chief executive officer of the museum or a person designated by the chief executive officer, a person designated by the minister responsible for the administration of this Act, the Comptroller General, and 3 other persons to be named by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

(2) A document must not be destroyed before the expiration of 7 years from the date on which it was created unless one of the following conditions is met:

(a) 2 years have expired from the date on which the document was created and a microfilm copy of it is available to the officer who would, but for the destruction, have charge or custody of the document;

(b) a recommendation under subsection (1) has been approved by the Legislative Assembly on the recommendation of the Select Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly on Public Accounts and Economic Affairs;

(c) the document is

(i) listed in a records schedule approved by the Select Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly on Public Accounts and Economic Affairs, and

(ii) destroyed in accordance with the instructions in the records schedule.

The second document is the electronic records procedure:

These are divided into operational and transitional. The key bit is in the second paragraph, which says if they are part of a legal process, information must be kept and available.

It would be hard to justify that emails touching on a matter which is the subject of a police investigation and charges could be disposed of.

The rules say those should be kept and be available.

NDP justice critic Leonard Krog called loss of government files “extremely troubling”.

“The Document Disposal Act requires that [electronic records] be kept for seven years,” Krog said. “It raises incredible suspicions and someone farther up the political chain that Mr. Copley is going to have to appear in court and explain what happened.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Patrick Kinsella documents, more delays in Basi-Virk "trial that never ends"

Whatever "business advice" BC Rail paid BC Liberal insider Patrick Kinsella $297,000 for has produced another 66 documents that the defence in the BC Legislature raid case wants access to.

And once again developments in BC Supreme Court have resulted in yet another supreme delay in the proceedings.

With 10 lawyers in attendance, Justice Elizabeth Bennett heard extended arguments from the defence, Kinsella's legal counsel and BC Rail's attorney

It all amounted to postponing resolution of the defence request for Kinsella's contracts, reports, payments and other documents for his work with BC Rail.

The pre-trial hearing of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - the three former BC Liberal government aides facing corruption charges regarding the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail - was told that because there are more documents related to Kinsella's work it would be premature to hear arguments from his lawyer James Sullivan on why some of them should not be released to the defence.

But Kevin McCullough, representing Virk, argued that if BC Rail agrees to providing the documents in their possession, Sullivan has no avenue to block it.

"If the Corporation [BC Rail] doesn't object to releasing the 66 documents, that's it - we get them," he told Bennett.

And McCullough questioned whether Sullivan can even make arguments about the BC Rail-held files.

"Does Mr. Sullivan have any sort of standing regarding BC Rail documents subsequent to their decision [on releasing them]? he asked.

Mike Bolton, representing David Basi, said "there is some merit in postponing our friend's response," referring to Sullivan.

Sullivan took the same view.

"I agree with Mr. Bolton - it is premature to make submissions in what is effectively the midst of document production. At some point we'll have to reschedule this hearing," he said.

And rescheduled it was, until July 23, with additional dates of August 18-20 also set aside for the Kinsella matter. The defence is also seeking Kinsella and his companies' own records in addition to BC Rail documents.

That delay led a frustrated New Democratic Party MLA Leonard Krog, in court for the hearing, to say in an interview that: "This is the trial that never ends."

The pre-trial hearing continues Wednesday with lawyer Ed Montague, representing 17 BC Liberal MLAs - including Premier Gordon Campbell - responding to a defence request for their emails related to the BC Rail sale.


NDP strategy to fight Campbell's carbon tax was the right one, evidence shows

Axe the Gas Tax Won Votes for NDP

And here come more gas price hikes.

So why is leader James dropping the issue?

By Bill Tieleman

Published: June 16, 2009 TheTyee.ca

A shorter version of this column was published today in 24 hours newspaper.

I think [Gordon] Campbell won the election in spite of the carbon tax, not because of it, and that [Carole] James almost rode a brilliant strategy to an upset victory in an election that would otherwise not have been close.

- Professor Mark Jaccard, carbon tax supporter

Since the May 12 provincial election, many columnists, political pundits and observers have all argued the New Democratic Party was badly hurt by its plan to eliminate the B.C. Liberals' carbon tax.

Some have even suggested the NDP lost the election because of its gas tax position, saying it cost the party the environmental votes needed to win.

For example, the Victoria Times-Colonist editorialized on June 13 that: "The party's silly campaign to axe the carbon tax was a dud."

But all the evidence indicates exactly the opposite -- the NDP gained votes and had a fighting chance of winning the election because of its anti-carbon tax policy.

So with Premier Gordon Campbell about to raise the carbon tax on July 1 by 1.2 cents a litre on gasoline and 1.3 cents on heating fuel, it's worth looking at what really happened.

Why the axe was sharp

Mark Jaccard is one of the few who got it right, all the more noteworthy because he is a strong advocate of the carbon tax and criticized the NDP when it opposed the B.C. Liberals' introduction of an initial 2.4 cent a litre gas tax in February 2008.

The reasons why "axe the tax" made sense are simple -- one, the gas tax was an unpopular idea for most voters and two, a majority of those who felt it was their biggest issue actually voted NDP.

Ipsos Reid exit polls of voters showed that the carbon tax was "very important" to 26% of those surveyed -- and of those, 57 per cent voted NDP, 25 per cent B.C. Liberal and 13 per cent Green Party.

And polling last year by Ipsos Reid found a majority of supporters of every party, including Greens, opposed the carbon tax, while an exclusive 24 hours poll by Strategic Communications showed 73 per cent did not believe it would be revenue neutral and 71 per cent disagreed with the government sending out $100 "climate action dividend" cheques to British Columbians.

Economic miscalculations

No, the NDP's real problem in this election was obvious from the start -- Ipsos Reid reports that 60 per cent of voters felt economic issues were very important -- yet the party avoided meaningfully addressing B.C.'s number one concern.

It could also be expected that if some NDP voters were very opposed to the party's position on the carbon tax they would vote Green to protest.

But in fact that Green Party vote dropped one percent while the NDP vote went up 0.6 percent and the B.C. Liberals stayed the same. And the fledgling B.C. Conservative Party, which also strongly opposed the gas tax, took two percent of the vote with only 24 candidates running.

Jaccard rightly points out the NDP were 12 to 18 per cent behind the B.C. Liberals throughout 2007 and only got ahead in November 2008 after launching the axe the tax campaign earlier that year.

So it's easy to see why Jaccard concluded that: "Pundits are now concluding that because James lost the election and because it cost her some votes, her anti-tax campaign was dumb politics. This is faulty logic... My guess is that it provided a significant net gain relative to where the NDP stood in 2007."

James drops a winner

Like it or hate it, the NDP position on the carbon tax was the right one for them to take -- and it almost paid off with an election win.

What's bizarre now is NDP leader Carole James' decision last week to drop her party's fight and try to make "that tax more effective and more fair" -- just before it goes up again!

And if you agree with me that the gas tax is unfair and ineffective -- join over 9,000 others at my Facebook protest group by going to www.facebook.com and search for Axe The BC Gas Tax.

Related Tyee stories:

Jaccard Rebuts Carbon Tax Critics
Advisor to premier claims it's world-class policy.

BC's carbon tax kerfuffle goes global

Beyond the Carbon Tax
Two enviros argue it's 'fluff' and 'blackmail' and no real fix for climate change.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tieleman "demonizes" David Suzuki over carbon tax support for BC Liberals - Suzuki goes berserk on Tieleman at event

War of Words

How I 'demonized' David Suzuki and the screaming mad results

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours /Tyee Column

Longer Tyee version at:

Tuesday June 9, 2009


Arrogance diminishes wisdom.

- Arabian proverb

Last week I discovered that the nature of things can be extremely unpleasant when you challenge the wisdom of the arrogant.

I was attending a reception when suddenly the host of CBC TV's The Nature Of Things was in my face.

"I want to talk to you!" a red-faced and agitated David Suzuki said, finger pointing at my chest.

"You have no right to demonize me!" he yelled, causing people around us to back away.

How did I manage to "demonize" the internationally known celebrity scientist?

Apparently it's not that hard.

All I did was write a column in 24 hours and online at The Tyee April 22 saying that Suzuki, Tzeporah Berman and other environmentalists had launched a "well timed attack" on the New Democratic Party over its opposition to the B.C. Liberal carbon tax as the provincial election began.

Here's what Suzuki said April 17: "If [B.C. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell] goes down because of axe the tax, the repercussions are the carbon tax will be toxic for future politicians. No politician will raise it. That's why environmentalists are so upset."

I wrote: "Neither Suzuki nor Berman have yet endorsed Campbell outright but they knew their assault would hurt the NDP and help the B.C. Liberals."

Hardly rocket science but perhaps Suzuki was more upset that I quoted Alexandra Morton, the respected biologist who is fighting B.C. Liberal expansion of fish farms that destroy wild salmon with sea lice.

"As the living systems of this part of the world are under the final assault by the B.C. Liberal government, you make headlines. You seem to have no idea of what Gordon Campbell is bringing down on us," Morton wrote Suzuki in an open letter.

I also argued that Suzuki and others were assisting a Campbell government that: "Promotes offshore oil and gas drilling, privatized rivers and streams for power projects, slashed wildlife protection, ended a ban on trophy hunting for grizzly bears and offers hundreds of millions in tax incentives for fossil-fuel exploration."

Suzuki didn't see it that way, obviously.

"I've always been an ally of the NDP!" Suzuki claimed.

"No you haven't," I replied, noting his endorsement of Campbell's unfair gas tax.

After more of Suzuki yelling and me responding calmly but pointedly, he tried to put me in my place.

"I don't give a shit about you...." Suzuki almost screamed.

"Then that's completely mutual," I interrupted before the great man could say more.

Suzuki spluttered, threw up his hands and rushed away, leaving the event immediately.

Ironically, the reception was for a book about conducting good public relations - something Suzuki clearly has yet to learn.

Monday, June 08, 2009

BC Rail FOI requests turn up National Public Relations as advising BC Rail during privatization

Defence lawyers in the BC Legislature raid case are seeking information about the role National Public Relations played in the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail.

Michael Bolton, counsel for David Basi - one of two former BC Liberal government ministerial aides facing corruption charges - said in BC Supreme Court today that the defence is seeking information about the role played at BC Rail by BC Liberal Party insider Patrick Kinsella and his firms, and also by National Public Relations and Randy Wood, a partner at National.

"The defence has sought records related to Randy Wood acting as a consultant to BC Rail," Bolton said outside court. "Wood was communicating with BC Rail and the government during the bidding process."

Wood said in a telephone interview that he didn't want to say much because the issue is "in the realm of the courts."

But Wood confirmed that National was hired by BC Rail.

"National has worked for BC Rail for a long time, going back to the NDP era," Wood said. "We were providing communications counsel related to how decisions were communicated. There was a lot of detail to the deal."

National Public Relations has been a significant donor to the BC Liberal Party, contributing just under $30,000 from 2001 through 2008. National's Managing Partner Marcia Smith has been a registered provincial lobbyist and senior BC Liberal advisor for several elections. She currently represents mining giant Teck as a lobbyist.

Wood was a lobbyist for Accenture during the 2002-03 privatization of part of BC Hydro but is not registered as a lobbyist for any other clients.

Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough, representing former ministerial assistant Bob Virk, told Justice Elizabeth Bennett that an agreement was reached with BC Rail's counsel, Robert Deane, to voluntarily produce information sought by FOI regarding Kinsella and Wood.

That agreement meant an early end to what was anticipated to be two full court days.

Bennett adjourned the court until June 16 after hearing about the agreement.


Friday, June 05, 2009

Patrick Kinsella's lawyer denies in court his client had anything to do with BC Rail sale; defence argues otherwise

A lawyer for BC Liberal insider Patrick Kinsella says there is "no evidence that he was part of the sale process" in the $1 billion BC Rail privatization but defence lawyers in the BC Legislature raid case argued otherwise Friday.

James Sullivan, representing Kinsella, was opposing a defence application in front of BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett to obtain the records of Kinsella's companies in connection to his $297,000 contract with BC Rail.

And defence counsel Michael Bolton, representing David Basi - the former BC Liberal ministerial assistant facing breach of trust and fraud charges along with fellow ex-MA Bob Virk - also said he wants any records Kinsella has connected to CN Rail as well.

Bennett heard spirited arguments from Sullivan, Bolton and Kevin McCullough, counsel for Virk, about the potential relevance of evidence Kinsella may posess.

"We're seeking from Mr. Kinsella records that relate to the Progressive Group and Progressive Holdings from 2001 to 2005, all communications, correspondence, invoices, cheques and briefing reports connected to Mr. Kinsella's dealings with BC Rail, connected to the sale of BC Rail and the divestiture of the Roberts Bank Subport," Bolton said.

"We're also seeking communcations related to the CN Rail purchase of BC Rail and connections with CN Rail during that period," he added.

Bolton said the defence also wanted to know whether Kinsella was "an agent, advisor, consultant or lobbyist for CN Rail on these issues."

That statement brought a strong objection from Sullivan.

"Our position is that there is absolutely no evidence to any of this," he told Bennett. "My friend is putting information in front of you for which there is no evidence."

Bennett replied that the in the defence application they had "made a number of statements where you've referred to Mr. Kinsella...."

That in turn brought McCullough to his feet.

"That Mr. Kinsella was the BC Liberal Party campaign co-chair? That's widely known!" McCullough exclaimed. "How is it Mr. Sullivan can help you at all for likely relevance?"

Bolton then told Sullivan that: " A number of the facts in the application regarding the bidding process are correct and have been supported by the evidence."

But Sullivan was not satisfied.

"We object to all of the material - we don't think you should consider any of it," Sullivan said.

That prompted Bolton to rise and use some colourful language to describe Kinsella's role.

"I feel confident that everything in this application is supported by the evidence or is notorious public information, such as Mr. Kinsella's role as BC Liberal Party campaign co-chair," Bolton said.

Bennett intervened: "I don't need you to editorialize."

But Bolton continued: "The government ran in the 1996 election saying they'd sell BC Rail and lost. In 2001 the Liberals promised no sale and won."

"It's a notorious fact that this was a highly politicized process. Kinsella played a signficant role, whether you call him a lobbyist or consultant, for BC Rail, for four years after the election. We can give you articles about whether Mr. Kinsella should have registered as a lobbyist," Bolton said.

Sullivan objected again.

"Here's the problem - they say 'Mr. Kinsella was there' - there was no evidence he was part of the sale process," Sullivan said.

But Bennett said he would have his chance to reply later.

Bolton continued: "I dont' suggest Mr. Kinsella was doing anything other than his ordinary business, or that he was in any way engaged in any criminal activity. I don't think anything Mr. Kinsella did amounted to a criminal offence, not that we know of."

The hearing continues.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

BASI-VIRK - Defence alleges Christy Clark may have leaked confidential BC Rail information from cabinet to Erik Bornmann - lobbyist for OmniTRAX


“For example, Christy Clark may have been the source within cabinet – certainly Mr. Bornmann was in contact with Ms. Clark” - Michael Bolton, lawyer for David Basi

Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm turns down Special Prosecutor request to immediately remove Justice Elizabeth Bennett as trial judge in case

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist

[A shorter version of this story will appear in Friday’s 24 hours newspaper]

The defence in the B.C. Legislature raid case alleged Thursday that former B.C. Liberal Deputy Premier Christy Clark may have leaked B.C. Rail information to a lobbyist acting for one of the bidders in the $1 billion sale.

Michael Bolton, acting for David Basi – one of two former provincial ministerial aides facing corruption charges – alleged in B.C. Supreme Court that Clark may have been a cabinet source for Erik Bornmann, a lobbyist for OmniTRAX who is now the key Crown witness in the case.

“Pilothouse internal briefing notes appear to reveal sources in cabinet,” Bolton told Justice Elizabeth Bennett, referring to Bornmann’s lobbying firm. “Bornmann clearly had certain cabinet sources.”

“For example, Christy Clark may have been the source within cabinet – certainly Mr. Bornmann was in contact with Ms. Clark,” Bolton said.

Clark declined to comment on the allegations, which are unproven.

Earlier, Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm turned down a request by Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino to replace Bennett immediately as trial judge on the case because she has been appointed to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

“You have the authority under the Supreme Court Act to appoint a trial judge,” Berardino argued. “I’m asking you to cut through all the potential delay…to move this case forward. Madame Justice Bennett cannot be in two places at once.”

Dohm initially seemed receptive. “Agreed,” he interjected.

Bolton argued against Bennett’s removal, saying the defence has an application in front of her later this month that requests she stay on for the trial because of her three and a half year involvement in lengthy pre-trial hearings.

“This case has been constantly going on,” Bolton said, noting that the defence and Special Prosecutor team have booked off any other cases from September 2009 to January 2010 for an anticipated long trial.
“That’s very clever on the part of the defence, because you’re going to require that time,” Dohm responded.

And Dohm said he would make inquiries to see if he can discover any “indications” as to when the Supreme Court of Canada will rule on Berardino’s appeal of two lower BC Court rulings regarding a potential secret witness, saying it would “make my life easier” if the decision were known by the end of June.

But while Dohm rejected Berardino’s request to immediately replace Bennetti, he also appeared to all but say Bennett will be removed soon.

“I know who the trial judge is going to be but I’m not announcing that today,” Dohm said. “You have no concern about who I’ve chosen – they are completely conversant with all Criminal Code matters.”

“I’m not going to muddy the waters further by appointing a second trial judge,” he said.

Bennett has already said she will “remain seized of” – continue to hear - several pre-trial disclosure applications from the defence before possibly exiting the case.

Dohm said that: “It is hoped that the matters before Justice Bennett will be completed or mostly completed by late June.”

The court is scheduled to sit for most of the remaining days of the month on several outstanding matters, including BC Rail Freedom Of Information requests by the defence to be heard next week.

Berardino and defence lawyer Kevin McCullough, acting for Bob Virk, then got into a heated exchange in front of Dohm.

“I request a specific date for counsel to file all applications, all legal arguments, so we have fair opportunity to respond to them – that hasn’t been happening in this case,” Berardino said.

“That’s very unfair, very unfair to the court,” McCullough objected.

“I’m not going to be interrupted Mr. McCullough,” Berardino shot back.

Then Bolton interjected: “It’s completely inaccurate to suggest…”

But Dohm stopped him, saying: “No, we’re not going to argue it now.”

The pre-trial hearing continues Friday with a legal application from a lawyer representing Patrick Kinsella, the former B.C. Liberal Party campaign co-chair in 2001 and 2005. Kinsella’s lawyer James Sullivan has objected to defence references to his client in relation to his alleged involvement in the sale of B.C. Rail in 2003.

Kinsella was paid $297,000 by B.C. Rail for “business advice” from 2001 to 2005. Sullivan rejected “spurious and unfounded allegations” in court by McCullough that Kinsella was involved in the sale of B.C. Rail.

Sullivan has also demanded an apology from the B.C. New Democratic Party for similar allegations but NDP leader Carole James has refused to retract them.

The court also heard continuing arguments from the defence and Ed Montague, legal counsel for several BC Liberal MLAs, about obtaining emails from them that may be of relevance to the accused.

Bennett was told that two former BC Liberal MLAs, Karn Manhas and Paul Nettleton, have given their complete consent to release their emails but others have not.

Nettleton left the BC Liberal Party caucus in 2002 after strongly protesting the privatization of part of BC Hydro in an open letter to his colleagues. Nettleton then sat as an independent MLA and also opposed the sale of BC Rail.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Premier Gordon Campbell makes financial fudge with phony deficit

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours & The Tyee Column

Tuesday June 2, 2009

B.C. financial fudge capital of the world

View Tyee article and comments here

By Bill Tieleman

Published: June 2, 2009

I can tell you this: the deficit for 2009-2010 will be $495 million maximum.

- Premier Gordon Campbell, April 23, 2009

The BC Liberals have a new plan to stimulate the provincial economy -- make British Columbia the "Financial Fudge Budget" capital of the world.

Finance ministers from around the globe will travel to Victoria to learn at the feet of the masters -- Premier Gordon Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen -- about how to craft the slipperiest, most expensive fudge ever seen.

That's the only conclusion one can draw from the most astonishing, outrageous and massive fudging of the B.C. budget in provincial history -- and all done during an election campaign.

So while Campbell said that if re-elected, the 2009-10 budget tabled in February with a $495 million projected deficit will be "pretty much the budget that’s reintroduced", not even the premier's closest corporate allies believe him.

Trust issues

Jock Finlayson, the B.C. Business Council executive vice-president, says he would not be surprised by a $2 billion deficit -- and Finlayson sits on the province's own council of economic forecasters.

Bank of Montreal Deputy Chief Economist Douglas Porter agrees with Finlayson, saying he could "easily foresee a deficit of that magnitude."

And last year's so-called balanced budget for 2008-09 could also have a deficit, says Helmut Pastrick, chief economist for Central 1 Credit union.

Pastrick has said consistently from February on that B.C.'s deficit would be much larger than projected and most recently predicted it would be about $1.5 billion.

Bitter fudge

What all this BC Liberal fudge means for ordinary and particularly lower income British Columbians is not a sweet treat but a bitter pill to swallow as the government begins dramatically slashing public services.

For even if Campbell decides to temporarily run a much bigger deficit than he promised to deliver, it will still require massive spending cuts and/or a significant tax increase to keep the red ink from staining the BC Liberals permanently pink.

And given that Campbell introduced a 25 per cent tax reduction when he came to power in 2001 and has steadfastly maintained that such reckless cuts stimulate the economy, don't expect him to hike taxes on business or high income earners.

When previously in a jam, facing an impending shortfall in 2002, Campbell stuck to his tax cutting rhetoric even as he was forced to claw back hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from ordinary British Columbians.

How? By increasing their B.C. Medical Services Premiums by 50 per cent, eliminating several medical services and imposing a host of onerous user fees that are still in place today.

The BC Liberals have already promised to cut $2 billion in spending over three financial years through "administrative and other savings" and "efficiencies" -- want to bet that number goes way up along with the deficit?

Downsizing battles loom

There's another big factor -- almost all public sector union contracts expire shortly after the February 2010 Olympic Games – and with B.C.'s economic disaster status at that point, expect a nasty round of bargaining as the government tries to downsize employees faster than a bobsled on pure ice.

That's one reason Campbell and Hansen hope to delay tabling a new budget in the Legislature for as long as possible -- to give themselves more "wriggle room" and more time to blame the world-wide economic crisis instead of their own inability and unwillingness to acknowledge the situation long before the election.

But will we see business groups up in arms like they were when the 1996 NDP government brought in a $355 million deficit when it had projected a balanced budget in that year's election?

Will the National Citizens Coalition again finance court challenges against government fraud?

Not a chance -- but these hypocrites should be embarrassed when their own business-funded BC Liberals' fudge make the NDP's past mistakes look like penny candy.