Wednesday, September 15, 2004

To 'C' or not to 'V'

45°25' North; 75°40' West

Well, it's more than just a search warrant now:

"A former B.C. government ministerial aide fired after his legislature office was raided last year is among eight people charged Wednesday with drug offences......

....A federal prosecutor said the charges against David Basi arose from the seizure of marijuana from a Shawnigan Lake, B.C., home....

....A news release from the RCMP and Victoria police said Wednesday that eight people had been charged in an investigation into cocaine-trafficking and marijuana production that began more than two years ago."


All of which serves to remind us that there are a still a whole lot of issues that have not yet been resolved in the David Basi/Bob Virk affair.

For example, just what is the crux of the drug/gang/organized crime investigation that brought the Glimmer Twins to the attention of the authorities in the first place?

Did it have anything to do with Victoria constable Ravinder Dosanjh who, according to Police Chief Paul Battershill, was suspended because of a connection to the afore-mentioned drug scandal?

Was the glue that bound them all together a fellow named Mandeep Sandhu, cousin and business partner of Dosanjh, who was originally implicated in a money laundering scheme that may have been an offshoot off a BC Bud for US Cocaine exchange brokered by the Hells Angels?

Now, if any of this is even remotely true it looks pretty bad for all of the principals involved.

But what looks to be much worse, especially for the public trust, is the apparent skullduggery initiated by the political wing of Mr. Basi's operation.

Case in point, brother-in-law Mr. Virk and confidant Mr. Sandu were both members of the infamous 'Basi Boys', a group of sharp-eyed political operatives that were apparently very successful in influencing the outcome of local Liberal riding nominations.

It's actually an old story and an ever older approach....flood the riding with new 'bulk' memberships and have them vote in a block to swing things in your candidate's favor. There is a significant body of evidence that strongly suggests that this approach was used by the BBs to oust Herb Dhaliwal and to help elect Paul Martin-backed candidates in South Vancouver Island ridings in the run-up to the last federal election. There are even vague rumors still circulating that a similar tactic was used to help ensure Gordon Campbell's ascendancy to the the leadership of the Provincial Liberals way back in 1993.

Such practices are morally and legally ambiguous at best, but if they are based on ideology in the absence of kick-backs they could be viewed as an extreme example of pure retail politics in its rawest form.

But what if they are not?

In that case you just might have trouble with a capital 'C' that rhymes with 'V', neither of which stand for Capital or Victoria.


When the provincial legislature was raided by the RCMP in Dec 2003 Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk were both working as ship's officers in the wheelhouse of the S.S. Gordon Campbell.

Specifically, Basi was a top ministerial (ie. politically appointed) aid to finance minister Gary Collins and Virk held a similar post with then transportation minister Judith Reid.

Which begs the question, was there a quid pro quo? In other words, did Basi and Virk get those high-paying, high-profile, high-influence bureaucratic posts as a payback for previous political services rendered?

According to still Finance Minister and now head SS Gordo Spinmeister Gary Collins, Mr Basi did not get his job based on a close scrutiny of his references, his academic record or his 'C'urriculum 'V'itae:

Are you satisified with the background checks that were made prior to hiring Mr. Basi?

Minister Collins I didn't...we didn't hire David Basi because of his resume. We hired him because he had worked in the civil service here in British Columbia for over 10 years. We had known him as intern in the legislative internship program which he participated in 1992, I think it was. So we knew David's work and his time in government and that's why he was hired. It wasn't based on a CV or anything like that.

All of which is fine, as far as it goes, except for the fact when somebody acquires money and power by peddling influence it's very likely that they will keep on peddlin' ad infinitum.

Which, according to the RCMP, is precisely happened in the case of Messer's Basi and Virk:

"Two ministerial aides in British Columbia whose offices in the legislature were raided by police in December were trading in stolen government documents while angling for key Liberal jobs in Ottawa, the RCMP alleges......

.....The documents concerned the sale of BC Rail and Roberts Bank, a bulk coal-loading facility connected to the railway. At the time, the government was negotiating the sale of both properties. BC Rail was sold to CN Rail for $1-billion, but the Roberts Bank sale was put on hold.....

.....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."

And here's the kicker...

"RCMP Corporal Andrew Cowan states that "Bornman promised or offered a benefit to Basi and Virk in the manner of facilitating federal government positions. These positions would benefit Basi, Virk and their associates both financially and with a greater sphere of influence. I believe that Basi and Virk, along with associates, falsified employment CVs. Bornman was then responsible for the recommendation and background checks for the applicants. These recommendations for Basi, Virk and other family members and associates [were made] despite Bornman's knowledge of flaws and fabrications with respect to the résumés provided."

In a perfect Neandercon world Basi and friends would likely be feted as heroes.

Even now.

Because all they really did was seize the opportunities to generate money and power for themselves and their patrons.

And if those patrons happen to be Gordon Campbell's Henchmen one day, a Motorcycle Gang the next, and Paul Martin's Crew the next, who really cares because nobody has been hurt, right?

That certainly appears to be the position of Solicitor General Rich Coleman:

Media Do you still have confidence in the B.C. Rail deal fairness report?

Solicitor General Coleman Yes I do. Yes I do.

In other words saying it twice is very nice, especially when the Public Trust is lying battered and bleeding behind a hedge on the grounds of the Legislature.

Update: 5:00pm Sept 16/04
Bill Tieleman is also very worth reading on this subject.

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