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Was the BC Rail scandal a conflict of interest situation?


canuckbeliever

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At the same time police conducted the unprecedented raid of the B.C. legislature, they also executed a search warrant on the home of Bruce Clark, Christy's brother and a one-time fundraiser for her campaigns.

According to an agreed statement of facts from the Crown and defence at the surprise end of the trial, confidential government information obtained from Basi and Virk was found by police at Bruce Clark's home and office.

Clark was a lobbyist working for the Washington Marine Group, which was a bidder on a second part of the BC Rail privatization, the sale of its Roberts Bank Port Subdivision, a spur line worth up to $70 million.

The RCMP advised then transportation minister Falcon to cancel the sale because it was "tainted" by the leak of confidential documents. Bruce Clark was never charged with any offences.

The statement of facts reads: "With respect to Count 10 of the Indictment and in relation to the Port Subdivision bidding process, the RCMP seized a number of documents from Bruce Clark's office and residence, which Basi and Virk disclosed to Bruce Clark between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 28, 2003."

"Two examples of the documents that Basi and Virk improperly disclosed to Clark are:

"a) The draft Request for Proposals for the Port Subdivision bidding process, which was received by Clark prior to the RFP being finalized by the Evaluation Committee; and

"b<b></b>) A 'confidential presentation' made by TD Securities to the Evaluation Committee dated Oct. 14, 2003 containing a detailed economic analysis of what BC Rail considered to be the value of the Port Subdivision."

Would she have been a witness?

But that's just the tip of the Basi-Virk iceberg when it comes to Christy Clark's conundrum.

Clark was deputy premier to Premier Gordon Campbell throughout the BC Rail privatization and was a highly probable potential witness in the trial.

She and ex-husband Mark Marissen, a key federal organizer for ex-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin and former leader Stephane Dion, had a home visit from the police after the raid. The police were looking for information about Basi and Virk and Marissen has made clear he cooperated fully -- there was no search warrant.

Defence lawyers alleged in Basi-Virk pre-trial court hearings that Clark may have been a cabinet source of information for Pilothouse Public Affairs, the lobbying firm run by Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran that was retained by BC Rail bidder OmniTRAX.

Both Bornmann and Kieran became Crown witnesses and were not charged with anything, despite admitting to police they provided money and other benefits to Basi and Virk in exchange for confidential government BC Rail privatization information.

"Pilothouse internal briefing notes appear to reveal sources in cabinet. Bornmann clearly had certain cabinet sources," Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton told Justice Elizabeth Bennett, the former Basi-Virk case judge, on June 4, 2009.



"For example, Christy Clark may have been the source within cabinet -- certainly Mr. Bornmann was in contact with Ms. Clark," Bolton alleged.

Bolton's allegations are just that -- they were never proven nor tested in court, since the trial ended long before any witnesses could be cross-examined or evidence introduced.

But Bornmann's long connections as an executive of the federal Liberal Party of Canada's B.C. branch, including strong links to fellow executive member Bruce Clark, are well documented, as are his connections to the BC Liberal Party and role as a provincial lobbyist.

And then on July 20, 2009, justice Elizabeth Bennett, the former Basi-Virk case judge, ruled that emails between Pilothouse lobbyists and Christy Clark were "likely relevant" and must be disclosed to the defence.

"The Crown concedes that any email communication between the lobbyists and Christy Clark, Richard Neufeld, Gary Collins, Judith Reid and Paul Taylor are likely relevant," she noted in her decision.

"Ms. Clark was the deputy minister and may have expressed concern over the CN Rail dealing at a cabinet meeting. Further, there is some evidence that indicates that she may have had some dealings with Pilothouse. Emails of Ms. Clark relating to the divestiture of BC Rail and the sale of the Roberts Bank, as well as any contact with Pilothouse, are likely relevant," Bennett’s disclosure ruling continued.

All of this may have been an impetus for Clark to lawyer-up for the first time in the lengthy pre-trial hearings, retaining John Esson to represent her in court starting in Aug. 2009.

Media manipulations

Then there's the so-far unconfirmed rumour that Mike McDonald, the former BC Liberal caucus communications director, will be Clark's campaign manager. McDonald, now a consultant, appears regularly on Clark's show and is husband to Jessica McDonald, Campbell's former senior deputy minister.

But McDonald also has his own connections to the Basi-Virk case.

Again, according to unproven allegations made by defence lawyers in pre-trial hearings, McDonald was involved in supervising Basi's stacking of paid phony callers to radio talk shows, ironically including CKNW.

Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough on April 23, 2007 read from what he told the court was a police transcript of a call between Basi and McDonald.

"'Dave's asking Mike if he wants to make some calls to CKNW after the MLA is on,'" McCullough alleged. 



Justice Bennett interjected: "Is this a Liberal MLA?"



McCullough: "Yes."

Bennett responded, to laughter in the court: "I should have known that."

At another point McCullough alleges that McDonald and Basi discussed how Basi would organize calls to attack former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm during a radio appearance.

"Dave says they are going to give Vander Zalm a rough ride. [Mike] tells Dave to be careful, they don't want the phone numbers showing up from [government lines in] Victoria. Dave replies, 'Star 67, man,'" McCullough read from what he said was a police wiretap summary. (Star 67 refers to a caller identification blocking option.)

And there's much, much more to the tangled web of the Basi-Virk case that no doubt Clark would prefer was left undisturbed.

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Selling off crown assets without getting public input (i.e. a referendum) to me is pure folly. Selling things that brings income without taxation is short-sighted, and shows that our government does not have our best interests at heart. For the people blinded by Fraser Institute thinking ask yourself this. If we allow "privatization" how many corporations have to have transparency for what they do? All they are required to provide is financials. Crown corporations allow public scrutiny. In addition if competition was so much in play, why is it that the price of gas is the same no matter what company I go to?

I'm not against the free enterprise system. But I do think crown corporations when run properly provide services and revenue. The problem is usually the idiots in government do everything they can to make sure crown corporations are run as shoddily as they can. With traffic problems the way they are. Having more rail options for both cargo and passenger service is more efficient and can help with gridlock, and actually help our economy grow. But once again, government fails in that vision, long term strategy thing.

End Rant.

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I'd be more wrried about the fact that political fundraising and bribery is being carried out with dirty money than the sale of B.C. Rail.

That's crossing the boundary of ordinary political corruption and getting into full blown narco/mafia state territory. My feeling is that if they cracked this case open they'd completely undermine confidence in the region's economy and system.

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The same members of the Liberal party that were involved in this illegal inside sale are still in Victoria and involved in the cover up. There are a lot of theories out there but just look at the facts of how this thing ended. The police compile tons of evidence in a multi-year investigation and 2 low level Liberal aides are charged. Then just before some high profile people and politicians are set to testify under oath in court, Basi and Virk plead guilty and have all their lawyer bills paid for by the Liberals and the 2 accused (Basi and Virk) can no longer speak about this matter because of the hush-money ERRRR I mean deal they signed with the Liberals.

Sounds like corruption to me.

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The same members of the Liberal party that were involved in this illegal inside sale are still in Victoria and involved in the cover up. There are a lot of theories out there but just look at the facts of how this thing ended. The police compile tons of evidence in a multi-year investigation and 2 low level Liberal aides are charged. Then just before some high profile people and politicians are set to testify under oath in court, Basi and Virk plead guilty and have all their lawyer bills paid for by the Liberals and the 2 accused (Basi and Virk) can no longer speak about this matter because of the hush-money ERRRR I mean deal they signed with the Liberals.

Sounds like corruption to me.

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It's alright to get some ideas for your paper from people here, or at least to spark your imagination, but like a previous poster said you should always back up what you write with facts that can be verified from reliable sources. I don't know if this was a problem for you, you mentioned your TA taking off marks, but learning how to present a reasoned argument that can be supported and has points that follow logically is critical to successful essay writing in your post-secondary career, much more so than where you actually stand on the topic. Good luck!

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