Sunday, December 16, 2007

RailGate Resurrected - Hansard Strikes Back!


Late last week British Columbia government lawyer Mr. George Copley selectively cited from a May 2007 legislative exchange between his boss, Premier Gordon Campbell, and Opposition Leader Carole James which he then used as a prelude to making the following bizarro-world statement of non-cooperative cooperation:

"You can fully co-operate and still take a principled stand and we are taking a principled stand on solicitor-client privilege."


Given that Mr. Copley and, presumably, his boss* have decided to use Hansard to justify actions that, on the face of them, make little logical (and perhaps legal?) sense at all, we thought we would do the same.

We begin with a passage dug up by frequent Railgate citizen commentator 'Lynx' that we have cited before and which Mary has posted up this morning.

It is an exchange between then Opposition Leader Joy McPhail and then Transportation Minister Judith Reid from Nov 19, 2003. It took place just after CP Rail had pulled out of the BC Rail bidding process kicking and screaming about information leaks and improprieties (ie. CP was essentially saying that the 'fix was in'):

You can read the entire exchange between Ms. McPhail and Ms. Reid from the official Hansard legislative transcript here but, like Mr. Copley, we have decided to be selective to make a point that we hope is somewhat less bizarro-world than his was:

J. MacPhail: Today we learn that the Canadian Pacific Railway has pulled its bid for B.C. Rail, casting a cloud over the whole process. We've also learned that the only other non–CN bidder, Omnitrax, has expressed concerns about the fairness of the process to the Premier. A report into that process released earlier this week identifies two leaks from B.C. Rail. In one case, data were sent to a party that should not have had access to it. Can the Premier tell this House what was leaked and to whom?

Hon. J. Reid
: Indeed, we've worked very hard on a process that is fair and equitable and have worked very diligently with the proponents. The fairness adviser's report…. The fairness adviser is Charles Rivers Associates, which is a very reputable firm, and that firm has stated that the process established and implemented by the province, the evaluation committee and its advisers was fair and impartial.

Please note Ms. Reid's linkage of 'process' and 'proponents' - the latter being the firms involved in the bidding process cited by Ms. McPhail in her original question (ie. CP Rail, OmniTrax and CN Rail).


Because in making such a linkage Minister Reid was telling Ms. McPhail, the legislature, and the current owners of BC Rail (ie. the people of British Columbia) that a 'Fairness Advisor's Report' from an outside firm from Toronto said that everything was on the up and up with the sale of our (ie. not Ms. Reid's) Railway.

It is also important to realize that Minister Reid did NOT say that, at least at that time, that the so-called 'Fairness Advisor' had only released an 'interim' report.

Additionally, Ms. Reid did NOT tell Ms. McPhail, the following - which is a statement that is bolded and outlined right up front at the beginning of the interim report (warning - pdf):

Note: At the time at which this report was submitted, the transaction process was not yet complete. Thus, our observations and findings are based only on the steps that have occurred to date. Also, we have not interviewed the three finalist proponents so their comments and views are not represented in this document.

All of which strongly suggests that this was, at least in its interim form, little more than an 'ostrich' report.

And ostriches, with heads buried in sand, have no idea what really happened.

Especially when they (and/or their paymasters) don't want them to.

But we digress.

Regardless the prior intent, the important (and unarguable) point is the following: Regardless the 'process' that had been put in place, Ms. Reid and the government she worked for really had no idea if the 'proponents' had been dealt with fairly or not because their 'Fairness Advisor' did not even talk to them (ie. the bidders involved).

Finally, it is important to once again note the exact date that of that ancient history exchange between Ms. McPhail and Ms. Reid.

It occurred on Nov 19, 2003.....

Which was six days BEFORE the big winner in the BC Rail deal was announced.

And it was also one month BEFORE the Raid on the British Columbia Legislature occurred.

Thus, if a reasonable person were so inclined, it would not be unreasonable for that person to conclude, perhaps, that the government of Mr. Gordon Campbell has been trying to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone concerned from the very beginning.

Which has us wondering if the time has come for us** to invoke our own 'solicitor-client privilege'.

Is Perry Mason still available?

*More on our musings about who Mr. Copley is working for and what Hansard has to say about that coming soon.
** Why? Because it was us (ie. we, the people of British Columbia) who actually owned the Railway when this deal was going down.
One last thing: Thanks to the superior searching skills of citizen commentator GWest and an anonymous commentor over at Paul Willcock's place, a copy of the 'final' Fairness Advisor's report has finally been found (details over at Mary's place also - what a resource her site is becoming!). Given that the final report is 139 pages long it will take us a bit of time to wade through it before we can comment in full......


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