Thursday, May 20, 2010

RailGate For Real....Day 3....


8:00pm: How come the Defence didn't make any opening remarks earlier in the RailGate Week?....Well, Brian Hutchinson, CanWest's NaPo man-about-town says that the reason "cannot be disclosed owing to a publication ban".....Sheesh..... In addition, Mr. Hutchinson, who may have come late to the party, also says that there is no evidence that there was any paid, and potentially illegal, media dirty-tricking going down on M. Brown's watch.....Hmmmmm.....Those local Lotuslandians who have been paying attention, and who know how to double-up the thirteenth letter of the alphabet, might beg to differ....

7:30pm: OK, now things are getting surreal, not to mention really stupid...Apparently, according to a Day 3 round-up piece by Matt Kieltyka in 24 Hours, Robert Virk used the moniker 'Bob from Burnaby' when he called Talk Shows during the 2001 provincial election campaign to lob softballs at then not-quite-yet premier Gordon Campbell....Here's the real question, though.....Did Mr. Campbell know that it was Mr. Virk, who was working on his campaign at the time, that was calling?...And here is the follow-up....Was it, in fact, Mr. Campbell that recommended Mr. Virk's hiring as a ministerial assistant after that election?....Finally, did Mr. Campbell condone Mr. Virk's continued slow-pitching during the post-election BC Rail propaganda offensive?.....These questions, backed with the post-Ledge Raids 'conversation' issue discussed below, sure have me wondering if the defence is trying to build a rationale to justify calling Mr. Campbell himself as a witness down the road...... Meanwhile the Globe's editorial writers call for narrow, circumscribed, 'nothing-but-$27,000-in-bribes-to-be-seen-here' codswallop.....errrrr...calm....

I dunno about you, but I have long wondered why B.Virk was suspended, but kept on the payroll, after the Ledge Raids until the charges finally came down a year later ....Keith Fraser brings this up in his latest report in the Province (which has re-appeared on-line again, finally).....I always figured it had something to with the possibility that Mr. Virk had a lesser degree of involvement with anything allegedly nefarious that went down compared to the co-accused....But that seems to have changed, at least on the face of it with all this alleged 'bid-leaking' business....But what if, perhaps, somebody was instead trying to keep Mr. Virk on the reservation throughout that period?....It would appear that it was the latter possibility that Mr. Virk's lawyer, K. McCullough, was probing today when he asked Premier G. Campbell's chief of staff M. Brown in court today about alleged repeated conversations that Mr. Campbell had with Mr. Virk during the latter's year in limbo.....Mr. McCullough even went so far as to if these these conversations were designed to assure Mr. Virk that he would be 'taken care of' if he were to keep quiet over the long haul....As noted below, it was this line of questioning that led Mr. Brown to state that he would be 'shocked' if this did take place.....So...... In the absence of further evidence (so far at least), let's go down that alley, if only just for a moment, and consider the possibility that Mr. Brown is actually right about his 'shock' being an indication that such conversations between Mr. Campbell and Mr. Virk did NOT take place... With that possibility in mind, does it not make you wonder, now more than ever, precisely why Mr. Virk was kept on the payroll for an entire year when co-accused Mr. D. Basi was cut loose essentially almost immediately after the original raids?....

3:30pm: CBC B.C. is reporting (un-bylined) that
defence lawyer K. McCullough has alleged that.."Bobby Virk was hired on the personal suggestion of Premier Gordon Campbell.....He (McCullough) also suggested Campbell called Virk regularly after the police raid on the legislature and told Virk the party would take care of him if he kept his mouth shut." ....For his part Mr. Campbell's chief-of-staff M. Brown responded with yet another non-denial denial saying that..."he was not aware of that and would be shocked it were true...".....Yes, and as Claude Rains once said to Humphrey Bogart...."I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! " (as the croupier handed him a bundle of money)......Ha!

Well whaddy'a know, it looks like the limited hangouts have begun in earnest....Say what?....Well, while he denies ever telling one of the defendents, specifically, to call up talk-shows and do the wrong-way shuffle, Gordon Campbell's chief-of staff Martyn Brown did say, under cross-examination and under oath, that......'he only ever encouraged political staff to ask others to call such shows, although it was a "perfectly acceptable practice" for government employees who weren't on the clock to phone in with favourable questions during the run-up to an election....." Now that shows the utmost integrity, eh? (see yesterday's walk down the many-meetinged 'integrity path' during the softball questions from the prosecution).... But as to those 'others' ......We can only wonder if there there ever any 'inducements' offered to them to encourage them to make those calls when 'asked'?.....Oh, and also according to the CPress (un-bylined), Mr. Brown used the 'no knowledge' non-denial denial defense (again) regarding any orders that may or may not have been given by then finance minister Gary Collins to his charge, Mr. Basi, to engage in such acts of ratf*cking......Oh, and, off-topic but why, pray tell, does CanWest keep posting, and then pulling down, and then later re-posting 'blow-by-blow' Railgate reports from their local stringers Mess'rs Hall and Fraser?.....

What did Mr. Brown tell Mr. Virk and when did he say it???....The defence has accused Gordon Campbell's chief of staff Mr. Martyn Brown, and perhaps Mr. Campbell also, of telling Mr. B. Virk after the Ledge Raids that he would be taken care of if he just 'played the game' and 'kept his mouth shut'.....Mr. Brown responded with a non-denial denial saying that 'he doesn't remember' and has 'no knowledge' of such conversations having taken place....NW's Marcella Bernardo has the story....In addition, the issue of the Talk Show Call-in-Posse of the highest (?) integrity has come up with Mr. Brown....He has, apparently, admitted some involvement....Does this mean that the limited hangouts have begun?....

Apparently, the defence will get to have another go at Campbell Gov't chief-of-staff Martyn Brown.....According to the VSun, next up for the prosecution is supposed to be former BC Rail executuve Kevin Mahoney who was a 'staff advisor' to that BC Rail Restructuring Committee that defendant B. Virk was supposed to report to back in the day....More recently, Mr. Mahoney was the CEO of the way-stripped down operationless version of BC Rail (ie. he was, for all intents and purposes, the guy that was paid big bucks to watch over the Spur line that nobody so far, OmniTrax included, has managed to win as a consolation prize).....One might also wonder if, as a longtime RC Rail exec., if Mr. Mahoney had, perhaps, a penchant for writing Emails to various associates when, say, his company came under fire?....Also scheduled is Ms. Joy Illington who was once the deputy cabinet secretary in the government of Gordon Campbell....Why Ms. Illington?....Well we can only wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that her job description means she was good at telling folks about things like privilege or, alternatively, if it has something to with the fact that as a cabinet secretary she may have been very good at writing memos to cabinet Ministers, regardless whether or not they were named Judith....



G West said...

Bull Shit Mr knew exactly what you were doing - and it wasn't a pennyworth different from what another former BC Liberal did and was forced to resign because of it.

Paul Reitsma wrote phony letters to a newspaper and got caught; Gordon Campbell and Gary Collins' political operatives were doing the exact same thing - and reporting back with glee to their political masters to tell them what they'd been up to.

You know it, the defence knows it and the people of BC know it.

The fact is, you guys are completely immoral, irresponsible 'cheaters' - that's your way of operating - has been since the word GO. Find a way to help your friends, deceive the press - the few who aren't your monetary supporters and who are clearly in on the deception AND screw the taxpayer and the justice system.

You're done Mr. Brown and so is your boss - and you're done no matter WHAT happens to Dave Basi and his friends.


Tony Martinson said...

Bob from Burnaby? Just because Mike from Canmore was taken?

Ian said...

The defence didn't make an opening statement...

While that's normal it isn't mandatory. The defence must make an application to the judge and the judge must accept the application. So there are two possibilities: the defence didn't make an application or the defence made the application and the judge, contrary to normal practice, refused the application.

One of those possibilities gives the apparent hostility between the bench and at least one member of the defence a better backstory.

I'm betting on option two.

Anonymous said...

Hasn't it been established that the media are restricted to reporting what is before the jury only...why would they describe "evidence" that hasn't been introduced at the trial? Bash away at the hacks as you will, but reporters are not going risk a $$$ contempt of court charge?

In any case, I'm glad that coverage has been expanded.

Ian said...

Good posts, just working my way through them top to bottom.

What was the difference between Virk and Basi? That's what it comes down to.

Here's the one I know about from reading the material that came from the staff committee.

David Basi was at arms length from the actual sale. He didn't sit on any government committee. He didn't have any official role. He did his boss (es) bidding throughout, setting up meetings for Collins, talking to people Collins was supposed to track, etc...

Bobby Virk sat on the staff working group, representing Minister Judith Reid. His job was to brief her and keep her in the loop. In other words Virk was privy to the inner workings of the deal. And Berardino has already said as much when he alleged that it was Virk who gave Basi the early bid numbers.

So why did they keep Virk around? Because he had more beans to spill.

RossK said...


Speaking of friends....

Weren't DB and Spiderman once friends themselves, back in the old hanging-ceiling days?

Or some such thing.


RossK said...


You mean your not from Tofino?


RossK said...


Fair enough, but....

It's one thing to not bring it up due to the publication's quite another to imply that it doesn't exist.

The evidence, I mean.

Because we whohave been paying attention know full well that it most certainly does exist...

I mean it's not like The Google has uncached everything or anything.


RossK said...


Point #1: I'm with you on option two....After all, if there was no application why would it have been discussed at all...

Point #2: I'm right with you now, especially given the alleged early leaks of bid numbers before they even got to the 'Working Group'....


G West said...

Absolutely Ross.

My recollection is that they go back to University days AND, without question, to Paul Martin's campaign for the leadership of the federal Libranos.

Bornman and Basi worked under Mark Marissen, the now ex-husband of former deputy premier Christy Clark. They were all Young Liberals in the early 1990s and part of David Anderson's ratpack - I think it's been suggested that Bornman and Marissen got their early education in political operations directly from Anderson himself....I wouldn't be surprised if the same is true of Basi....

If there's any truth to the theory that Campbell tried to sever Virk from Basi by promising to 'look after' Virk (by implication screwing Basi) maybe this is just another example of blood being thicker than water.

The other really interesting thing to conjure with (and I expect Ian may be in the right ballpark here) is what seems to be shaping up as a testy relationship between McCullough and MacKenzie.

I have to think some more about that and go back through Mary's archives to see if there were previous indications that McCullough had a tendency to go ballistic when Bennett was in the chair.....

BC Mary said...

This is from memory ... I offer it in response to RossK's question: "Was it, in fact, Mr. Campbell that recommended Mr. Virk's hiring as a ministerial assistant after that election?"

The letter of recommendation on behalf of Bobby Virk went to Martyn Brown over two signatures, one of which was Lara Dauphinee. I can't remember, and as yet haven't found the letter, to identify other signature.

That letter is amongst the huge document dump obtained by the Opposition and although categorized helpfully, seems baffling (hangs head ...)

But I did use that information on the Lara Dauphinee profile, in answer to the commonplace defense that she (as Deputy Chief of Staff and Executive Assistant to the premier) is not very important in the general scheme of things relating to BC Rail.

RossK said...

Thanks very, very much GWest and Mary--

Interesting how little background/biographical info is being offered up the herd as they do their stenoing....It's almost as if that pre-trial pub-ban has scared them off from doing any digging whatsoever and put them into full ostrich mode.

And, to my mind at least, that Globe editorial is just atrocious in this regard.


kootcoot said...

If one is to take Martyn Brown's copious denials as truth (a real leap of faith, to say the least), perhaps he should return to the taxpayer's all salary collected in the last nine years or so. If his denials are to be believed he had nothing to do with, nor did he know anything about what the government he was supposedly working for was doing!

So it would seem he was either incompetent, totally oblivious or more likely involved to his eyeballs and following the main LIEberal strategy of lying his face off with impunity. If you can't lie with ease and panache, forget about even trying to be a big league LIEberal!

RossK said...

Pertaining to Mary's comment above....The Google can really be one's friend, even now, if one wanted to search for any and all documents that are still available on a particular political party's caucus website....


Ian said...

Yvette Wells black book: the gift that keeps on giving.

RossK said...


I have absolutely no idea of what you speak....



G West said...

Have to say that Globe editorial was unbelievable...and seems to have attracted a string of strong reactions in the comment thread.

have a look:

RossK said...

Thanks for the heads-up GW--

I'm amazed - there are a number of really fantastic, well informed comments there....I might even front a couple.


lynx said...

To add to Ian's comment up top on potential "bean spillage" -

From hansard, April 26, 2004. Afternoon sitting.

Halfway down the page... from a Committee of Supply meeting in the Douglas Fir Room... a debate between Joy MacPhail and Kevin Falcon.

This one section of hansard from section 1500 onwards is well worth the read. Especially if one remembers the infamous memo sent out to cabinet members about who was really in charge of ministries, and also in regard to THE question as to not only when but whether or not cabinet actually approved the BC Rail deal .... also in regard to the question as to whether a Treasury board minute/decision point on the deal even exists?

MacPhail states in this section that it is Bob Virk, who briefed her on all the BC Rail legislation.

This is an important section:

"J. MacPhail: That's what our leaks told us too, so I'm glad our sources are exactly accurate. Bob Virk attended the steering committee meetings where the terms of the B.C. Rail sale were discussed. That's what the Minister of Finance said. That's the body that discussed the sale of the B.C. Rail deal. That's what the former Minister of Transportation said in the Legislature when she was ramming legislation through: "Don't worry. The steering committee handled all of these arrangements."


Mr. Bob Virk attended those steering committee hearings, so he had access to inside information. Mr. Virk also saw the legislation before it was tabled in the Legislature, so he had access to confidential information, both financial and legislative. Did Mr. Virk have access to Treasury Board information through the minister's office regarding the sale of B.C. Rail?

Hon. K. Falcon: Again, I'm left in the position of certainly not being prepared to speculate on what information Mr. Virk may or may not have had access to, because I actually don't know. What I can say is that within my office, typically, the ministerial assistant has access to whatever information is at least passing through them to the minister, to myself, relating to cabinet information and Treasury Board information. That certainly wouldn't be uncommon.

J. MacPhail: I'm forced to compliment the minister, again, for his courage. In this case, it's speculative courage, but nevertheless, it's courage.

It is completely unacceptable for the corporate information to disappear with the change of a ministerial political staffer. It is completely unacceptable, so the minister should be able to answer the question. Now he's answering it in a way that actually implicates him, to say that one would have to reach the conclusion that Bob Virk did have access to confidential Treasury Board information.

Being a smart person, I should just sit down and accept that, but I also know the minister knows the answer to that question or can get the answer to that question, because it is simply unacceptable for him to not outright confirm that Mr. Bob Virk had access to confidential Treasury Board information.

Mr. Chair, the reason why this is important is because there's some question about when this deal was actually approved and whether it was approved by cabinet, but we do have everybody admitting that Treasury Board, at least, dealt with this. We can only assume that Mr. Virk, given the practices of ministers' offices, had access not only to confidential legislative information and not only attended steering committee meetings but had access to Treasury Board information regarding the sale of the B.C. Rail deal."

Ian said...

Amongst the many pages posted by the NDP Caucus is a copy of Ms. Wells' notebook, containing several notes about Bobby Virk's to do list.

G West said...

Excellent point Lynx...Brown was the guy who explained to the new cabinet members that they were little more than corporate vice presidents in the CEO's new corporate structure. As such, the CEO would appoint the deputies, assistants and aides AND (this is important) their 'reporting relationship' would be - not to their ministers - to the Premier's Office.

Taken in that context, it is not only reasonable to suggest that Bobby Virk (among others) and his fellow appointees (all of the OICs) would work FOR the Premier - and take their marching orders from the Premier's office too.

Mr Brown's current bashfulness about the role he played in setting up this structure is disingenuous in the extreme.

I'd provide more details - OIC numbers and the like - but my computer is temporarily on the fritz....Perhaps BC Mary has this information in her archives Ross.

RossK said...


Fantastic stuff!

And pre-pre-trial hearings began too, so we can run with it!


I'll have a look, thanks.

Ian--There's pure gold between them thar covers, but isn't it currently still subject to the p-ban?

Feel free to give us a contrary opinion if you feel otherwise.