Lays it Out!
An Expert Summary of the BC Rail Scandal Fiasco -
What's Left Out. (October 27, 2010)
My friend Bill Tieleman has delivered the piece on
the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial that we’ve been waiting for.
Acknowledged as one of the best-informed observers watching and
prying into the meaning of the BC Rail Scandal, Bill Tieleman’s
wisdom needs to be studied by everyone who cares about British
Columbia. His October 26 article, “Hung Out To Dry” is one of the
best summary articles written to date.
But its flaws are dazzling.
Mr. Tieleman (like all the mainstream press and
media people) studiously avoids a few absolutely central matters –
and the question must ring through anybody’s mind: Why? Why?
Hitting the nail squarely on the head, he writes
that former “BC Liberal ministerial aides Basi and Virk do not
deserve to spend a single day under house arrest, let alone the two
years less a day they were sentenced to last week under a guilty plea
bargain agreement….” They were, he says, “Hung Out to Dry”.
And then he steps away from his statement and turns
to the huge, calamitous, devious doings of Gordon Campbell and
Nowhere does Mr. Tieleman say there is sound legal
basis to exempt the two men from any charges whatsoever. Under
perfect conditions there may have been reason to charge all three men
– which he does not acknowledge. And, now we’ll never know - a
situation, itself, which creates a gigantic slander of the men.
And – humourously (as well as unfortunately) –
Mr. Tieleman uses Shakespeare’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (two
minor figures in the play HAMLET) as (innocent) parallels to
(innocent) Basi and Virk. Except Mr. Tieleman seems to forget
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are, in effect, hired by the villain of
the play, Claudius, knowingly to accompany Hamlet to England with a
secret letter in their possession instructing Hamlet’s future hosts
to murder him! Nice guys.
The sound basis for disallowing any charges
(which Mr. Tieleman and all the other mainstream press and media
people refuse to mention) is plain. In December 2003, before the
search warrant raids on the legislature offices of Dave Basi and Bob
Virk only (not on any of the offices of the people who gave the two
men orders), a Special Prosecutor was named.
In such a case in which two men (instruments of
government) were to have their offices raided and then, a year later,
were to be charged, the legislation covering the appointment of
Special Prosecutors is unequivocal: the Special Prosecutor must be
visibly independent and unbiased. He or she must have no connection
whatever with the accused. He or she must not have even the potential
to be perceived as being biased.
He or she must have no connection whatever with
elected government officials, civil servants, police or like
persons. And in this case – compellingly – in which the cabinet is
believed to have been deeply involved in the corrupt transfer of BC
Rail to the CNR, the Special Prosecutor should have been chosen from
the 11,000 lawyers in B.C. so that he or she was obviously and
unequivocally clear of any attachment to interested government figures.
But the appointed person, William Berardino QC, had
been for seven years partner and colleague (and, one assumes, friend)
of Geoff Plant, Attorney General in the ministry which appointed him,
directly linked through membership in cabinet to Gordon Campbell and
all senior operatives in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR.
William Berardino had been, as well, eleven years partner and
colleague (and, one assumes, friend) of the Deputy Minister in that
same ministry, Allan Seckel.
That was enough to rule out Mr. Berardino,
categorically. But then in the Spring of 2007, Gordon Campbell
entered the pre-trial process, dissolved the working protocol to vet
cabinet documents sought by the Defence counsel, and replaced it with
Allan Seckel, then Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Seckel, Gordon
Campbell said, would consult with the Special Prosecutor, William
Berardino. Mr. Seckel and Mr. Berardino had been partners and
colleagues in private practice for eleven years. Mr. Seckel had
worked on the election campaign of Geoff Plant who became Attorney
General, and not long after that Allan Seckel was appointed Deputy
The action of Gordon Campbell – entering the
judicial process – stank to high heaven, and underscored the mess
“the Crown” was in.
The Special Prosecutor (1) in the Basi, Virk, and
Basi case was wrongfully appointed in violation of the legislation
governing appointment. (2) Therefore, he could not act. (3) If he
were to act, as he did in the case, the trial had to be illegitimate
– and it was. (4) Since it was illegitimate, the charges which he
organized and placed against the three accused were without legal
force. (5) All of the accused, all three, were, therefore, subjected
to a pre-trial and trial process that was improper and without
validity. (6) And so Basi and Virk “do not deserve to spend a single
day under house arrest, let alone the two years less a day they were
sentenced to last week under a guilty plea bargain agreement ….”
Why won’t Bill Tieleman and the other writers for
the mainstream press and media point that out? It provides
indisputable proof of Mr. Tieleman’s main point.
The whole process from the beginning has - it is
estimated – cost nearly 20 million dollars … almost all of it without
legitimacy because the Special Prosecutor was wrongfully appointed.
My friend Bill Tieleman doesn’t fill in the
canvas. He – and the whole corps of Mainstream Press and Media
people - ignore the fact that the assistant Deputy Attorney General,
the Attorney General, the Chief Justice and Associate Chief Justice
of the B.C. Supreme Court, the government appointed Reviewer of the
Special Prosecutor appointment system, Stephen Owen, and the
investigator for the Canadian Judicial Council - Chief Justice of the
Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench - ALL lied, ducked out, equivocated,
made empty excuses, or refused altogether to acknowledge the fact of
William Berardino’s wrongful appointment.
All of the people from the Mainstream Press and
Media refuse even to refer to the fact that the presiding judge,
Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, was fully informed that the
Special Prosecutor was wrongfully in the courtroom … and she would do
nothing whatever to inform the jury of the fact or to remedy the
Had the Mainstream Press and Media done their
work fairly on that matter, the whole course of the trial in the last
six months might have been completely different … and much, much
better as far as achieving some measure of justice is concerned. The
Mainstream Press and Media – many observers, I am sure believe -
constitute a major part of the sell-out of justice in the BC Rail
Scandal and the matters involving the three accused men. Their
coverage of the Basi,Virk, and Basi case has been obscene.
There are those who say the role of the
Mainstream Press and Media at the present time is to work for Private
Corporate Capital and to sell out the people of the country. That
seems to be what happened here.
Bill Tieleman is correct in his headline that
says: “Media quick to close the book”. He suggests they closed it
after the trial. They closed it long before the end of the trial, as
I have just shown. Moreover, instead of challenging the police
investigation from the start of the pre-trial hearings four years ago
… the press equivocated, as Mr. Tieleman does in his expert summary.
Even now, he will only write about “the astonishing disregard for
good judgement repeatedly demonstrated by the RCMP”.
The more than three years of pre-trial hearings,
I insist, gave every indication that there should have been a deep
and total RCMP investigation of the major actors in the corrupt
transfer of BC Rail to the CNR – up to and including Gordon Campbell.
I asked RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass for that investigation …
and he refused.
There still should be that investigation– and the
Mainstream Press and Media refuse to say so. They fail … and fail …
The pre-trial hearings, I believe, revealed the
RCMP stalling, delaying, shadow-boxing, giving every indication the
Force was attempting to obstruct the process. I believe that would be
the conclusion of any reasonable and prudent British Columbian
The aborted “trial” of the three men, which
followed, revealed key actors who hardly dared answer a single direct
question. Martyn Brown and Brian Kenning looked so bad … I believe …
desperation fell upon the Campbell group. I believe that group
decided they had to do almost anything to close up the trial. We know
It must be said … and not a single member of the
Mainstream Press and Media will say it. The actions of the RCMP in
the whole matter of the BC Rail Scandal give the appearance – I
believe that would be the conclusion of any reasonable British
Columbian who observed the legal process – of being devoted to
covering-up for the major actors in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail
to the CNR, to confusing the real sequence of events and the scope of
wrong-doing, to acting on behalf of highly suspect persons, and to co-
operating in the concentration upon certain allegations against the
three men accused.
Bill Tieleman underscores the dubiousness of the trial by
emphasizing the strange set of events when then-Finance Minister Gary
Collins met Dwight Johnson and Pat Broe from bidder OmniTRAX at the
famous Villa del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver in December of 2003.
Mr. Tieleman points to the offer of a “consolation prize” to OmniTRAX
for staying in the bidding process for BC Rail. The reference is
contained in the “statement of facts” which the accused agreed to
that forms the basis of their reduced conviction. The reference to
the “consolation prize” is there in the statement, it seems,
specifically so that the accused can sign a statement exempting Gary
Collins from any part in offering it.
What Mr. Tieleman doesn’t say is Defence argued in pre-trial
hearings that Gary Collins was under “investigation”, and that
investigation (after the December 12 meeting at Villa del Lupo) was
dropped, and that there is no available record of an order to end
investigation. As I remember, the presiding judge accepted those
allegations by Defence as reasonable and said there must be record of
the termination of the investigation of Gary Collins … somewhere. If
so, it has never seen the light of day.
An investigation of top government figures in the corrupt
transfer of BC Rail to the CNR appears to have been begun … and
closed down sharply. Every representative of the Mainstream Press
and Media should be on their hind legs demanding that investigation
be re-opened and pursued to the last tiny shred of evidence.
Okay, Mr. Tieleman, over to you and the others in the
Mainstream Press and Media.
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