Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trial Of The Century Sputters To Life


Just in case you missed it, or not, now that the local media mavens are actually starting to start to shake themselves awake from their self-induced slumber, the British Columbia Legislature Raids trial, which will apparently involve the testimony of at least one member of the no longer existent PR firm 'Pilothouse' (ie. the company that allegedly paid out the bribes, but whose former principals have not been charged), is actually showing signs of sputtering to life almost three years after the fact.

And the best place to read all about it is at citizen journalist extraordinare BC Mary's place.

Today, Mary goes over Vaughn Palmer's latest column with a fine-toothed comb, including the so-called tidbit about an allegedly surveilled meeting/dinner between former Finance Minister Gary Collins and Omnitrax president Dwight Johnson (Omnitrax was one of the bidders for BC Rail and a client of the aforementioned very fine fellows from Pilothouse).

The thing is, Mary looks to have beaten Mr. Palmer et al. to the punch on this one by, oh say, 5 months or so, just because she has been paying attention from the get go.

And all she had to do was read Hansard.

Here is an exchange in the Legislature on Apr 26, 2004 between Joy MacPhail and Kevin Falcon as resurrected for posterity by Mary:

J. MacPhail (to Minister of Transportation K. Falcon): When did the minister become aware that the Minister of Finance was meeting with Pat Broe, the head of Omnitrax, while the bidding process for the Roberts Bank spur line was going on? When did he become aware of that?

Hon. K. Falcon: The fact is, I'm not even sure when I became aware. I think I recall reading something in the media about the member's questioning of the Minister of Finance in estimates or something. I have some brief recollection that I read something in the media, but that would be it.

J. MacPhail: I just want to clarify. It is this Minister of Transportation who is responsible for the sale of B.C. Rail — am I correct? — including the spur line to Roberts Bank.

Hon. K. Falcon: The member knows very well that that's correct.

J. MacPhail: Okay, and he was the minister on March 3. When the Minister of Finance was asked questions about these private meetings with Pat Broe by a Vancouver Sun reporter, the Minister of Finance admitted that he discussed the Roberts Bank spur line sale with Pat Broe. He said, "Oh, it was inconsequential," but he did admit to discussing it. That's his interpretation. It was inconsequential — a private dinner between the Minister of Finance and one of the bidders on the Roberts Bank spur line sale while the bidding process was going on. The Minister of Finance admits that it was discussed at their private dinner.

Did the Minister of Finance ever tell this Minister of Transportation about the nature of those discussions? Did he ever declare that discussion in what's supposed to be an open and transparent bidding process, of which Omnitrax was one of the bidders?

Hon. K. Falcon: No.

You got that? This was in the Spring of 2004.

So forget about all this 'accidental wiretap' stuff for the moment, because clearly people knew, and people have known for a long time, about meetings between the former Minister of Finance (ie. Mr. David Basi's boss, one of the former government insiders who, again allegedly, accepted money from the fine fellows at Pilothouse) and the very good folks from Omnitrax (ie. clients of the truly fine fellows from Pilothouse).



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