One of the crime scenes

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Crumb for the Curious

Many of us "inquiring minds" were disappointed when the Basi/Virk trial resulting from the Legislature raids back in 2003 were postponed again in a near secret proceeding held early in the morning on May 10. But the same day that the original warrants were finally released (about 80% of the information) new charges were laid against Dave Basi. He was charged with three counts of "fraud on the government" and breach of trust for allegedly accepting $50,000 from developers Tony Young and James Duncan for help in getting land released from the Agricultural Land Reserve near Sooke for the Sun River Estates development. Young and Duncan apparently don't have the clout or connections of "Spiderman" Bornman or Brian Kieran as they were also charged for giving the bribes. The trial of Basi, Young and Duncan on these charges is currently scheduled for June 29 in Victoria. Who knows what rocks may get accidentally uncovered when these charges are tried? I won't be surprised if this court date gets set back between now and then, but am looking forward to June 29 for now. More on ALR

Of course the ALR itself is often the subject of debate, for some people just the fact that it was initiated by the NDP government of Dave Barrett is enough to make it evil. Freepers claim that it is an impediment to the "divine hand" of the free market, while government licensed monopolies and tax policies that favor corporations and the rich somehow are not. British Columbia, like the rest of Canada, has a very limited supply of arable land, and unless global warming really accelerates, must protect what hasn't been paved or built on already (or made unfit by pollution). A sample of views on the ALR are:

Michael Walker, founder and head of the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, has nothing good to say about the ALR.
"The Agricultural Land Reserve was a disastrous mistake in first place. To take land out of housing production when the relative price of housing was rising and the relative price of food was falling is simply absurd.

Of course the Fraser Institute and the Neo-Cons who look to them for "facts" aren't very likely to look at any issue beyond it's immediate effect on their pocketbook. Another view of the ALR follows.
Keeping land in agriculture is long range thinking." Some people are predicting that rising energy prices will put parcel to globalism. "The era of the 3,000-mile Caesar salad is over," he says, citing analysis of the international food trade that indicates much of our food travels 2,500 miles to our tables.
If rising oil prices bring that to an end, adds Miller, "the ALR will turn out to be profoundly inspired." And on a local level it probably has had the beneficial if unintended consequence of focusing density in B.C. cities and promoting "smart" growth.

Both quotes from ALR: pleasure and pain for developers

Click Here for More!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Gem from BC Mary
"Oh, god," a Victoria police detective sighed when accused of being partners with his cousin in a drug-trafficking organization uncovered by a skein of investigations that culminated with the raid on the B.C. legislature.

BC Mary has posted information concerning a hearing in yet another ongoing trial related to the infamous raid on the Legislature.
This is the first of several trials that are in the judicial pipeline as a result of what is described as "a monster" of connected but independent investigations 2 1/2 years ago that triggered the unprecedented search of provincial government offices on Dec. 28, 2003.
Hie thee on over to Mary's blog to see the rest...

Click Here for More!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

? Anonymous ? Questions ? ? ? ? ?

I would like to respond to a comment by anonymous (by the way are you the same anonymous that commented earlier?) regarding the coverage of the "almost secret hearing."

Who did you see, on Global TV, recounting the details of this bizarre scene at the Vancouver Court House?
I didn't see anyone in particular on Global, just some videotape and voice over.

Whoever it was, had to have been called in advance, had to be waiting for them in the lobby of the court house, had to be special enough to chum along with them, right up into the court room. Whoever it was, had to be walking and talking with Judge Bennett, the special prosecutor, and the defense lawyers. Like part of the judiciary, almost.
Well they had video of the courthouse lobby early in the morning, almost deserted except for the people involved in the hearing. They were trying to get an elevator which wouldn't come so they went through a door, I assume to the stairs, that's what the voice over said.

But ... but then, this person goes on Global TV and describes it all ... ? Huh??
What about the seemingly 24/7 LIVE coverage of Glen Clark's deck imbroglio. Not only was he found innocent of any criminal charges even if guilty of poor judgement, but to me ties between the legislature and organized crime, the drug trade, money laundering and especially improprieties in the giving away of the assets of all British Columbians to benefit the few are all much more deserving of our attention. It even seems much more important than skimming some Bingo proceeds. Yet as of now it will be THREE years (barring further delays, pardons or pleas) before we have much idea what is happening or did happen. And then they hold sneak attack hearings practically in the middle of the night to push back the day of revelation even further. And the Main Stream Media gives them a pass for the most part. I saw or heard nothing on CBC radio or TeeVee and it is difficult to even find mention of the hearing anywhere, even Global now.

And who was there to record Berardino's request? and Judge Bennett's decision?>
Don't know, but shouldn't these things be public information?

And don't judges have their own super-special entrance to the Vancouver Court House?

I don't know, do you? Does it matter?

While we all thank you for this insight, it does have a strange, unreal feel to it.
It sure does, doesn't it? The whole affair stinks to high heaven and answers and/or explanation or an inquiring media are all sorely lacking. Can you imagine if that raid on the legislature happened on the NDP watch - we would be buried in coverage and speculation to the extent we would be bored by now rather than puzzled.

Click Here for More!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Almost Secret Hearing Held Yesterday

Last night, by chance, I found out via GlobalTV News that yesterday morning, May 10, Special Prosecuter Bill Beradino, defense lawyers for the Basis and Bob Virk and Justice Elizabeth Bennett met in the lobby of the Vancouver Courthouse practically at the break of dawn. They were so early that the elevators weren't working yet and they had to climb stairs to reach the courtroom. Apparently once they got to the courtroom the judge had to enter without anyone there yet to say "Please Rise," as they had arrived before any court staff. Now who called the hearing and why it was so almost undercover isn't clear this morning in the wee hours.

The only mention I've been able to find in print online so far is an information free 95 word article from Canadian Press published identically in the Sun, Province and Times-Colonist. This article had less information than the brief item on the TeeVee news and even though it said very little that was new, it did create some discrepancies with the TeeVee item which was actually more informative.

As far as I can tell at this point the special prosecutor wanted to ask for a delay in starting the trial. Citing disclosure issues and the difficulty of dealing with the boxes of documents Mr. Beradino feels it is impossible for the Crown to be ready to go to trial on June 5. Mr. Beradino stressed that Operation EveryWhichWay was a complex investigation with many threads. He also specifically mentioned a seperate but related investigation which he was "not willing to identify at this time." The special prosecutor asked for the trial to be set back to December 1. Justice Bennett pointed out that the first being a Friday she would set a new trial date of December 4.

Lawyers from all sides when asked for comments as they were leaving the courthouse, about the time it was opening for normal (non Star Chamber) court business would say little other than they couldn't comment because it was "before the courts." This observer wonders if it might not be more appropriate to say that whatever was and is going on is hiding behind the courts - I'm just saying. They've already succeeded in keeping this under the rug long enough that it wouldn't affect one election. I doubt if they think they can stall long enough to breeze through yet another, but maybe they they think they can stall long enough to allow them to sell off the remaining assets of the citizens of British Columbia.

I can't help but find suspicious all these delays and secrecy. Best case scenario, it's a complex tricky investigation and the Crown is crossing all their t's and dotting all the i's. Worst case - the government (who is involved, even if only because it was their aides that they hired), the courts and the special prosecutor (who was after all appointed by the government) are doing their best to make it all go away.

The Canadian Press article which is safe for those with information allergies can be found here. According to this article the parties are scheduled to meet next on June 13.

Click Here for More!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Follow the Money

According to the Public Eye Online, not only is Bruce Kieran retiring from the renamed K & E Public Relations (formerly Pilot House) lobbying firm, but K & E itself may be ceasing to exist. The end of the line?

Spider-man Erik Bornman was also at Pilot House before he moved to Toronto to article for a law firm located in the "center of the universe." Police allege that Bruce Kieran sponsored a trip to Denver for Basi and Virk with their wives to a NFL game between the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders. They were guests at the game of Gary Rennick, the chief operating officer of Omni-TRAX, who were interested in bidding for BC Rail. Besides the trip to Denver the RCMP uncovered a pattern of checks written by another Erik Bornman company, Pacific Public Affairs, to Aneal Basi. None of these allegations are yet proven in court, but a comparison of Bornmans check's to Aneal Basi for "contract writing services" and deposits by Aneal into his cousin Dave Basi's account appear "amazingly" coincidental. Below is a chart of the checks and deposits in question (drawn from data published in the Vancouver Sun - April 4, 2006).

I would imagine this might be why Aneal is currently charged with money-laundering, or part of the reason. Considering the (few) statements by the RCMP and/or the courts since December 28, 2003 concerning drugs, organized crime, money-laundering etc., it is only natural to wonder when the other shoe is going to fall. I'm certain that there are some people who are a lot less anxious than I for more information about this affair to become public.

BC Mary sent along another article that touches on the document trading, insider knowledge aspect of this case. This is from the Globe and Mail for September 11, 2004.

Ministerial aides were trading in stolen government documents.

"But police allege that Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk at the time were trying to win chief of staff positions with the new Liberal government taking shape in Ottawa. Helping them in that regard, police say, was Erik Bornman, who, in addition to being operations manager for Mr. Martin's leadership campaign in B.C. and director of communications for the federal Liberals in B.C., was director of a lobbying firm working for a U.S. company bidding on BC Rail."

Click Here for More!

A New Blog Link

I added another blog to the list on the right this morning. I'll let
them describe themselves.

Public Eye Online is a daily journal covering the backrooms of provincial and federal politics in British Columbia, breaking headlining stories before they become headlines. Our voice is neither conservative nor progressive. It is independent and irreverent, biased only against pomposity and hypocrisy

Their focus being the backrooms of politics in BC, they are pretty well obligated to devote some coverage to this affair. Some articles of theirs in this vein include:

The toothless Fang

Fascinating news from the lobby firm formerly known as Pilothouse Public Affairs Inc.: late last week, the company circulated an email to friends and associates announcing it has "embarked on an internal transition that will mark the beginning of Brian Kieran's preparation for inevitable retirement from government relations..

Included in this article is a copy of Brian's letter to himself regarding the re-organization of K and E, formerly Pilothouse. I just can't resist posting the heading of his letter.

From: Brian Kieran
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2006 07:38:03 -0800
To: Brian Kieran
Subject: K&E Update

Charges without powder
The Crown has stayed charges against one of the men connected with the raid on the provincial legislature, we have learned. Mandeep Sandhu, a former executive member of the Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca federal Liberal constituency association, was charged with conspiracy to traffic in marijuana in September 2004

Unfinished Tales
Even on the day criminal charges were being laid against him, former ministerial assistant David Basi remained a consumate political operative.......yet, at the Victoria courthouse, he was still backslapping reporters, even reaching across a row of cameras to shake hands while his pinstripped lawyer Michael Bolton was being scrummed

Like every other news media and/or blog the Public Eye Online hasn't had much since the release of the information and add ALR related charges. This affair has been like that from the beginning, months go by with no real news. With the trial scheduled to begin on June 5, inquiring minds may be able to end their fast.

Click Here for More!

Friday, May 05, 2006

The View from Ontario

The raid on the legislature was noticed by media across Canada. After all, it isn't everyday that the RCMP show up at a legislature on recess armed with search warrants and proceed to haul boxes of documents away to potentially be evidence in criminal proceedings. In the early days much of the attention from Ontario was focused on organized crime, drugs and ties between the provincial ministerial aides (Basi and Virk) and the Federal Liberals.

With the following headlines and excerpts I'll attempt to convey a glimpse of how the affair played out in the Toronto Star and its Metroland family of newpapers for the first couple of months immediately following the raid.

Toronto Star - Dec 30, 2003

Drug probe behind raid on B.C.'s legislature
No arrests made, but one aide fired, second suspended Cabinet members aren't implicated.

Daily Mercury - Dec 31, 2003

Analysts say B.C. premier should explain reason for aides' departure after police raid
Gordon Campbell needs to give the public more information, Norman Ruff, a political scientist at the University of Victoria, said Tuesday. But Ruff felt it wasn't necessarily essential for Campbell and Gary Collins to return from their Hawaiian vacations.

The Record - Jan 2, 2004

Fired aide not so powerful, B.C. cabinet minister says
B.C. Finance Minister Gary Collins interrupted his holiday to put out a political fire caused when a senior aide's legislature office was raided by police as part of an ongoing drug and commercial crime probe.

Daily Mercury - Jan 3, 2004

Judge adjourns bid to unseal warrants used in B.C. raids

The Record - Jan 8, 2004

Aide accepts severance package after office raid
The government has faced a storm of speculation in the wake of the Dec. 28 raids on the offices of David Basi, ministerial assistant to Finance Minister Gary Collins, and Robert Virk, assistant to Transportation Minister Judith Reid

The Record - Jan 16, 2004

Business as usual, insist beleaguered Liberals
The government has faced a storm of speculation in the wake of the Dec. 28 raids on the offices of David Basi, ministerial assistant to Finance Minister Gary Collins, and Robert Virk, assistant to Transportation Minister Judith Reid

Daily Mercury - Jan 24, 2004

Judge orders publication ban while considering warrants

Toronto Star - Feb 24, 2004

PM's ticking time bomb
In fact, as Liberals here admit privately, the B.C. business is a time bomb for the Prime Minister. Unlike the Quebec sponsorship scandal, it speaks to something for which [Paul Martin] cannot escape responsibility - the ruthless, and at times dubious, tactics he used to oust Jean Chretien, take over the Liberal party, and become prime minister.
One member turned out to be a dog that had been dead for five years. But he, too, was welcomed to the Liberal party.He even received a Christmas card from the-then jolly but now very beleaguered Martin.

Of course now Paul Martin is on his way to retirement, from politics at least, so his involvement in this affair doesn't seem so important anymore. Just another case of poltics as usual? To those of us in BC though who think that the wholesale sell off of our assets should be stopped, learning that a process that is wrong to start with is also corrupt makes a bad situation worse. If comparatively lowly ministerial aides can wield enough influence to be bought, the only question is how much higher is the price to buy their bosses.

Shortly after the information in the warrants was mostly released and the charges added on Basi relating to the ALR scam in Sooke, I heard a minister on the radio discrediting these new charges. His position was that Basi didn't have enough influence to affect a decision by the ALR. I tend to agree with him, which leads to the question of to whose ear in cabinet or government Basi had access. There seems to be no question that Basi was receiving money and other considerations, lobbyists and con men don't usually give away money for nothing.    More

Toronto Star February 24, 2004

PM's ticking time bomb

Police raid on B.C. 'Basi Boys' could turn embarrassing spotlight on Martin's tactics in ousting of Chrétien

By Thomas Walkom

The most unpredictable element of a political scandal is its spillover.
Even if Prime Minister Paul Martin is able to persuade most Canadians that he had nothing to do with the Quebec sponsorship affair, the controversy may remind voters about other matters the Liberals would prefer forgotten.

One such matter is simmering away in British Columbia, sparked by post-Christmas police raids on the homes and offices of key Martin organizers. Up to now, the raids have been virtually ignored by media east of the Rockies, as of little interest to anyone outside B.C.In fact, as Liberals here admit privately, the B.C. business is a time bomb for the Prime Minister. Unlike the Quebec sponsorship scandal, it speaks to something for which Martin cannot escape responsibility ú the ruthless, and
at times dubious, tactics he used to oust Jean Chrétien, take over the Liberal party, and become prime minister.

The B.C. events surfaced publicly on Dec. 28 when RCMP and Victoria police raided the offices of two political aides in the provincial Liberal government.Police said the raids were connected to a 20-month investigation into drugs and organized crime.
More tellingly, as Victoria police chief Paul Battershill told reporters a few days later, the raids were connected to allegations of "money laundering and proceeds of crime."

Initially, the media concentrated on the provincial angle. That made some sense since the two aides, David Basi and his brother-in-law Robert Virk, were important figures in Premier Gordon Campbell's government.But it soon became clear that the police were casting a wider net. Officers searched the offices of two key Martinites Bruce Clark, the Prime Minister's chief fundraiser on the west coast, and Eric Bornman, communications director for the federal Liberals.

As well, police visited Mark Marissen, B.C. campaign chair for Martin's leadership, and asked him to hand over what he later called important documents he may have inadvertently received.

Most attention, however, focused on Basi. In addition to his provincial role, Basi, too, was a key figure in Martin's successful campaign to take over the federal Liberal party.Described as a bright and energetic organizer, Basi recruited thousands of new Liberals -- many from his own Indo-Canadian community -- to capture riding associations for Martin.

Known as Basi's Boys, the new members flooded ridings. In one particularly high-profile case, they took over the Liberal constituency association of then natural resources minister and Chrétien supporter Herb Dhaliwal.In another instance, the Basi Boys successfully had their people appointed to the executive of the Esquimault-Juan de Fuca Liberal riding association.

That won little public attention until early December when, as part of their money-laundering investigation, police raided the home of one of those Basi Boy appointees.Around the same time, police also uncovered a marijuana growing operation at a Vancouver Island property owned by Basi but rented to someone else.

The politically sensitive nature of the case has made it unusually opaque. Search warrants authorizing the Liberal raids -- as well as any information backing them -- have been sealed by the courts.As a result, it's impossible to know the exact nature of the allegations involved.It is worth pointing out, however, that so far no one involved in any of these raids, including Basi, has been charged with anything.

Nonetheless, all of this is potentially bad news for Martin. In the midst of an ethics scandal, it reminds the public that his capture of the Liberal crown, and hence the prime ministership, involved tactics that were hardly glorious.

To join the Liberals and vote for the party leader, a prospective member must sign a form and pay $10. Under party rules, that fee is not supposed to be paid by someone else.It sounds simple. But in practice, as Liberals themselves admit, various factions end-run the rules by engaging in massive sign-ups in which organizers, rather than the prospective members, pay the $10 fees.

That means that the faction with the most blank membership forms and the most money can win. Indeed, one of the keys to Martin's success over Chrétien was his ability to change the party rules in key provinces so that -- up until last February -- Martinites had access to the largest number of blank forms.All that was needed then was money for the $10 fees. In B.C., where Liberal membership skyrocketed from 3,000 to about 40,000, that meant about $370,000.Some of this undoubtedly came from the new members themselves. But clearly, some did not. In one riding where the Basi Boys had been active, the Vancouver Sun found some cases of duplicate memberships and others where new members denied paying their own fees.

One member turned out to be a dog that had been dead for five years. But he, too, was welcomed to the Liberal party.He even received a Christmas card from the-then jolly but now very beleaguered Martin.

Click Here for More!
'twas the month before trial
and all through the House---

All has been pretty quiet on the House of Infamy front. This is nothing new, though the raid generated a certain amount of interest and articles in the month or two following its occurance, since then the whole thing has mainly stayed in the background except for the rare spike of activity. Various media had little success in accessing information, like that used to obtain the search warrants, until last month when Justice Bennett released approximately 80% of the information. Now once again the issue is back on the back burner, most likely until next month when the trial of Basi and Virk is scheduled to begin.

During January of 2004 there was much speculation in the media concerning the ties between Dave Basi and Bob Virk and the federal Liberals. Though the federal Liberals and Gordo's gang in Victoria seem to share little but a name with the same letters in the same order, this affair has shone some light on the ties between the two varieties of Libs on the backroom organizer level. Recently BC Mary sent the House an article from the North Shore News published on January 14, 2004. This piece was written by Leo Knight, an ex-cop with Conservative leanings.

from Fraud plays a big part in political campaigns

" wasn't Basi's expertise in economics that got him his job as ministerial assistant to the finance minister. Nor was it the vast political expertise gained over less than a decade as an unpaid intern or a low-ranked civil servant.

....No, it was his ability to deliver memberships to the party to support this cause or that person......
They hire those people who can give them the most politically expedient results. If, as in this case, it appears to be Indo-Canadian bums in chairs at nomination meetings, then so be it."

To read the complete article, click here!

Click Here for More!