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.



Anonymous said...

Supreme Court throws out case
Weighing in on a critical section of the Charter of Rights that guarantees an accused the right to a trial within a ‘reasonable' time, votes 7-0 to stay proceedings. Globe and Mail

Supreme Court of Canada decision: R. v. Godin

Makes one wonder if all the RCMP delays and BC Liberal obstructions are for a purpose?

Gary E said...

Great piece Bill.

One thing that occurred to me while reading it was when Dohm appeared to contradict himself on the appointment of a new judge,I was thinking they are trying to soften the blow when he does (and I allege he will) appoint a new judge before the trial.

Anonymous said...

''Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive''

Someone named Bill said that a long time ago. Still works for me.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:13,
I need to be treated for cancer.


Anonymous said...

Have you all noticed the Fraser Institute fart-catcher crowd at CanWest Global are not even touching this story.

I bet Bill "Goodie-two-shoes" will as usual ignore reality and report on some poor NDPer who broke a shoe lace.

The "former" Honourable Madame Deputy Premier Christy Clark seems to be following in "former" Vice President Dick Cheney's footsteps on the mixing free-enterprise with public office.

I guess some could now call her Dick-Less Cheney.


Anonymous said...

Here's my prediction:

Despite the 6 years since police raided the BC Legislature, and despite the fact that 3 years have passed since the Basi Virk Basi trial was scheduled to begin (June 2006), this BC Rail Case in BC Supreme Court can no longer be called boring.

Mind you, this BC Rail Case never was boring for those who knew the political connections from Paul Martin and David Anderson on down the food chain. There was always a horrible fascination for those who guessed at the risks and losses piling up. How could we lose a big important railway? Or BC Hydro?

We owe a lot to Bill Tieleman for staying on the case (and Robin Mathews over at my place too) and providing the gold standard for factual reporting. Because honestly, "they" really were pulling off an official silence hoping the public would forget the raid, forget the loss of BC Rail ... and, I may be wrong, but I'm wondering if they're ragging the puck now -- running up the lawyer bills -- hoping the taxpayers lose patience and demand a halt.

I tell ya, there's good reason why Gordon Campbell is expanding his propaganda arm, the Public Affairs Bureau, at a time of restraint when that $31-million a year is desperately needed elsewhere.

My hopes are with Justice Elizabeth Bennett and, so help me, I hope she explains a few important details to that other Bill ... Wild Bill Berardino.

BC Mary
The Legislature Raids


The Rat said...

What a farce. The Liberals don't want the dirty laundry aired and the defendants don't want to be convicted. And so we have judges, who have always been too political for my tastes (See Wally Oppal, allowing this to drag out to the point where another judge will throw the whole mess out for violating charter rights to a speedy trial. It's win-win for both parties involved and massive broomstick to the nether regions for the public. Can this end any other way? Can you imagine any kind of Royal Commission looking at this? The whole thing smells like BC's version of Adscam with way too many Federal Liberals involved and a much too incestuous group running things. Why did Christy Clark leave government, again? Family? Yeah, right!

Norm Farrell said...

" would “make my life easier” if the decision (SCOC) were known by the end of June."

Does Dohm know something the rest of us can only guess about? Shall we have a pool, people?

My money is on Berardino staying charges within 48 hours of the SCOC denying the appeal.

On another subject, does this sort of public interference by a fellow judge have any precedent?

Skookum1 said...

To Norman: No, not in recent memory, but I suspect that private interference by other judges goes on all the time; as does diddling from those in cabinet....

Back in the days Begbie, Crease and Walkem there may have been "public" interference I think, but I can't recall the details; maybe to do with the Cottonwood Scandal (Begbie snared in in land dealings around Cottonwood House, between Quesnel and Barkerville); all records were sealed and destroyed, as I recall, to protect Begbie's good name. BC newspapers back then were pretty cut-throat and liable to fabricate stuff, though - even more than today (throwing around imaginary mud is a BC media institution, started off right with John Robson and Amor de Cosmos...).

The backroom jockeying over the Liberal succession is probably heating up, that's for sure; none of those in the know can come forth at present, because it would be portrayed as a betrayal of the party - Christy could win public respect by speaking what she knows, but then she'd make enemies in the party; this is the kind of thing that makes me sniff at party machines vs. the public interest. Ditto anybody else in the possible running; they all know something, and some of them probably have their hands dirty; but nobody's going to speak until the House of Cardsharks is taken down from outside, or they'll lose party insiders and obsessive party fanatics. Party loyalty and the public interest don't often coincide - in this country, and in this province in particular.

A caucus revolt is the only way to break this open back onto the hustings any time before 2013....but we haven't seen any signs of honour from the caucus, other than the isolated cases of Nettleton and Cardoso.

I can see Judith Reid with her clam bucket, slogging along the tide line, cursing at Gordo as she tries to decide what to do when she's finally called before the court.

Here's another thought: instead of replacing Justice Bennett - why not replace Bill Berardino? Maybe that's a bad idea, and we'd get someone worse; it's just odd to see him bucking so hard to kick Madam Justice upstairs when he's been the one, really, who's been dragging this out.....

Makes you wish we elected DA's like they do in the States, huh? And judges. Maybe with more at stake on the ballot, people might actually show up to the polls....

Anonymous said...

While NDP/Labour mouthpiece Bill Tieleman throws this partisan-driven mud around about Christy Clark, he does not bother to quote the defence who made obvious mischief with this claim, which was from an email (not sure who said this to whom) that said:

“Yo bro, will you email me back the relevant insights from your chat with Christy.”


This begs a number of questions:

- Insights about what?

- When was this discussion?

- What was the discussion about?

Bill doesn't bother to mention this because he knows that using this email as a basis for making any kind of allegation makes this whole story a joke.

Bill Tieleman said...

Leaving aside the gratuitous insults from Anonymous 4:07, I was not at Wednesday's court session when Kevin McCullough made comments quoted in the Globe and Mail nor do I have any idea what the defence knows or does not know in this matter.

In fact, I'd written and filed this story before I was aware of Mark Hume's piece, which went online at the Globe Thursday evening and is printed in Friday 's paper.

I gave Christy an opportunity to respond, which is only fair, and she declined.

Lots of allegations get made and they remain unproven - don't get mad at me for reporting what's said in open court and giving the person affected fair chance to reply!

Anonymous said...

There's responsible reporting and there's sensationalistic reporting. Which one best describes your public views, Bill?

At least what you print is truthful.

Eleanor Gregory said...

Just a point of information about the role of Associate Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court Patrick Dohm in the Basi-Virk case.

As Associate Chief Justice he has administrative responsibilities for things, such as, assignment of responsibilities among other judges. In circumstances where a judge hearing a case (such as Justice Bennett) is elevated to the Court of Appeal in the middle of an ongoing matter like Basi-Virk, it is to be expected that the administrative judge would be involved in determining how the matter will continue to be heard and by whom.

Another example of where the administrative judge would get involved in an ongoing case would be where a judge hearing a case dies before the matter completes or before rendering judgment. In such circumstances, it would obviously be necessary to assign another judge to deal with the case.

ChrisB said...

Obviously. And who knows how many judges will die before this case comes to a close.

Actually the administration of the courts, and especially the assignment of cases, is a subject that needs a thorough public airing. I believe it is one of the issues that retired BCSC Judge John Bouck has discussed on his blog.

DPL said...

Maybe Christy won't discuss it, using the StoneWally comment" It's before the courts!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:07,

Your words will come back to haunt you as I understand that the email read into court has a subject line that provides full context of what was going on at the time.

I highly doubt that Mark Hume would have written his piece without having understood who, what's and why of the email.

Emails are a very important piece of evidence in this case. Just ask Paul Taylor.

Norm Farrell said...

I understand that the court administration needs to be involved on the periphery of this case. It is Dohm's style of involvement that seems wrong. Justice Bennett is conducting the case and has given notice that she is considering appropriate timing for the change in responsibility.

Dohm should not have heard arguments aimed at making an end run around the trial judge. He should not have announced that he has already decided on the name of a new judge. The statements undermine Justice Bennett's present authority and were openly contemptuous. I bet there were some interesting conversations behind closed doors at the Law Courts.

Berardino wants Bennett gone because she isn't helping the scheme to protect folks at the root of this fraud. Politicians are not worried about conduct of the trial, they are concerned about more disclosure of embarrassing documents.

We should be aware that much is wrong in Canadian justice, not just with this case. My blog discusses and links to an essay by Dr. Amir Attaran. He accuses Canada of deliberately maintaining the loosest corruption laws of any developed country. Is there any better proof than the two stories in recent news: Mulroney and Basi/Virk?

Kam Lee said...

Since we are speaking of Ms Clark...She works for CKNW and we are currently boycotting that station and all its advertisers. Lets continue this plan, seems that they don't like it too much. Seems that we are having way to much fun with it! They are complaining like good lieberals. Give us our province back!

Gary said...

Christy Clark, Gary Collins, Judith Reid, ALL scurried to the nearest Exit Door when this "broke"............

Anonymous said...

christy clark leaked the word out when she was secretary to the Federal Transport Minister in Ottawa for the west. She came west and ran with the Liberals here and got in.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Did that little creep Bornmann ever find a place that would let him practice law? I never did hear the outcome of his (snort) good character hearing with the Law Society of Upper Canada...