Friday, June 18, 2010

RailGate Round-Up....The Flinging Of The Former Finance Minister


I'm not sure about you.


I'm pretty sure I heard the sound of Gordon Campbell's former Finance Minister, Gary Collins, being thrown under the bus in the Railgate courtroom last week.

And in my opinion the deed was done by Premier Gordon Campbell's current chief-of-staff, Mr. Martyn Brown.

This potential mangling of former Minister by undercarriage occurred during an exchange between David Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton and Mr. Brown that involved the so-called the 'Consolation Prize' that was supposed to have been given to OmniTRAX, the American RailCo that was allegedly paying Eric Bornmann and, presumably, his associates to bribe Mr. Basi et al.


Well, perhaps a little background is in order before we get to the actual exchange between Mess'rs Bolton and Brown.


This 'Consolation Prize' business was all about the Roberts Bank spur line which is a short, lucrative, 40km stretch of BC Rail track that was NOT sold-off to CN Rail when the big deal went down in Nov 2003.

Instead, it was supposed to go to a different company, in a separate deal to be consumated later.

But that later deal was never consumated.


Because the Horsemen told the government of Gordon Campbell that they, the RCMP, had obtained evidence which led them to conclude that the spur line deal might be tainted.

So, here's the real deal (which, in my mind at least is the crux of the entire matter because, if true, it leads directlly back to influence peddling and deal fixing right from the beginning)....

The defense is alleging that OmniTRAX stayed in the bidding on the big CN Rail deal when the other competitors dropped out screaming bloody murder about bid-rigging because they were assured that they would receive the spur line as the 'Consolation Prize'.


And with that, we now pick up on the exchange in the Railgate courtroom between Mr.Bolton the lawyer and Mr. Brown the Campbellero-in-Chief as reported by Bill Tieleman.

First, here's the set-up (and please note the part about the RCMP and their 'surveillance'):

....Bolton then raised a dinner meeting between Gary Collins, then-Finance Minister, and two OmniTRAX executives - CEO Pat Broe and VP Dwight Johnson - at the Villa del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver after BC Rail had been announced as sold to CN Rail and before bids closed on the Roberts Bank spur line, worth up to an estimated $70 million.

Bolton noted to Brown that the RCMP had launched extensive surveillance of the meeting.

Bolton: "Was it appropriate for the Minister of Finance to meet with a bidder at that time?"

Brown: " I had and have great confidence in the integrity of Mr. Collins.".....

Alrighty then.....No admission of anything untoward by Mr. Brown. In fact, as per usual there is little or no admission of anything by Mr. Brown. However, he does make it clear that he has always had the the greatest confidence in Mr. Collins' "integrity".

Hmmmmmm.....What happens if we move onto the part of the exchange that deals with the matter of 'intent'?

Bolton: "I'm going to suggest to you that it was unusual for Mr. Collins to meet Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson between the two bids - between BC Rail and the Roberts Bank subdivision."

Brown: "I don't have any view on why Mr. Collins would meet with them. You would have to ask him."

Bolton: "Did you, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Collins and Deputy Minister [Ken] Dobell meet in December 2003 to discuss the bid?"

Brown replied that they may have met - they had lots of meetings in December because it was "budget crunch time."

Bolton: "I'm going to sugget to you that Mr. Collins told that meeting he was going to meet OmniTRAX executives."

Brown: "If he did I have no recall of that whatsoever."

Bolton: "Well, he'd been advised by Charles River Associates [the BC government's fairness advisor on the sale] not to meet with bidders."

Brown: "You or Mr. [defence lawyer Kevin] McCullough told be that but I don't recall. I don't recall any discussion with Mr. Collins about any dinner meeting with OmniTRAX whatsoever."...

Well that's interesting, don't you think?

Because, some might conclude that Mr. Brown was suggesting, just beneath the heavy veil of his constant evasions, that the dinner meeting with the good folks from OmniTRAX may have been all Gary Collins' idea.

Which would have been an 'idea' of the utmost 'integrity', of course.

And then, finally, there's this....

Bolton: "The consolation prize was to be offered with thanks from the government for staying in the bidding."

Brown: "I would emphatically deny that - I cannot believe the government or Mr. Collins would be in a position to make a promise like that."

Bolton: "They would be told their Roberts Bank bid would be looked at with favour."

Brown: "The government would be grateful for all the bidders who stayed in the process. But in terms of offering a consolation prize - I would strongly say that didn't happen."


Recall that that the RCMP had the dinner between Mr. Collins and the fine folks from OmniTRAX under surveillance......

Which means that they just might have taped what was said.....


Given that Mr. Brown has emphatically denied that he or his government, the government of Gordon Campbell, would be 'in a position' to promise the 'Consolation Prize'....

And if it turns out that there is actually physical evidence indicating that Mr. Collins did, indeed, make such a promise?


Can you hear the brakes on that bus squealing?


Perhaps more to the point....

Can Mr. Collins?

We've been writing about the putative 'Consolation Prize', which some, including Vaughn Palmer, have tentatively dubbed the 'Quid Pro Quo' for some time now....



Anonymous said...

RossK, you may have to go comment moderation, because your first comment is SEX and PORN.

After you delete the first comment, you might as well delete my comment as well.

Both are well off topic.

RossK said...

Comment Mod?


(well, OK, maybe...)


North Van's Grumps said...

From Hansard, but mentioned in dispatches at BC Mary's blog:


"Hon. K. Falcon: I have to go back to what I said before, and that is that I wasn't minister at the time that Mr. Virk was involved. I can't possibly even begin to discuss what his level of involvement is, because I can't possibly do that in any knowledgable way that would add any value to this.

I remind the member that we are referring to the vote for '04-05, and the member is referring to the previous fiscal. Unless there is a question associated with the financial implications, I can't add anything for the member.

J. MacPhail: This deal is being booked in '04-05. The sale and the proceeds of this B.C. Rail deal are being booked in '04-05. I always love it when the government tries to say: "Oh my God, you're a fiscal out of order." Wrong. I want to know whether this deal is going to survive or not, and these questions all relate to the survival of this deal. We've got a police investigation into this sale. We've got part of the deal stopped because of a police investigation.

It took a while to find this Hansard connection. My first search had me looking at 2010. I finally went to the index of Hansard which allowed me to narrow the field down to:

After reading Hansard for the Afternoon Sitting April 26, 2004, I decided to look at the word "leak" because of what J. MacPhail said:

"J. MacPhail: That's what our leaks told us too, so I'm glad our sources are exactly accurate."
"I want to get back to CP Rail in a moment, but I also want to ask a question about the third leak about shippers' information. The minister said that leak was to the media. Was that the first time information had been leaked? Or was it leaked prior to that to other participants in the process?


J. MacPhail: Well, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it wasn't until around November 19 that the other bidders found out about the extra-special information that CN was leaked, because on or around November 19 the CBC learned that CP Rail and Omnitrax, companies bidding to take over B.C. Rail, had written a letter to the Premier complaining about preferential treatment given to CN Rail. Both CP and Omnitrax expressed concerns about the fairness of the government sale process of B.C. Rail. Both letters indicated that CN was receiving preferential treatment during the bidding process. In those letters, what did CP Rail and Omnitrax list as preferential treatment?

When did the other bidders become aware that commercially sensitive data had been leaked to CN?


The Leak info above is going from the bottom to the top in Hansard..... and THE leak appears to have come from "the third leak referred to a shipper analysis report"

Which is all very interesting because one of the questions asked by M. Bolton of M. Brown was did he know the name Ian May........... No.

Well not even I, NVG, knows the name of Ian May. I do now because I went home and checked..... Ian May = Shippers.

Is M Bolton suggesting there is a connection here because he keeps throwing odd questions to M Brown, not associated with the bulk of the other questions. Its like a lie detector grounding test.....

All in all this particular Hansard, by far, should be of interest to most readers trying to keep track of what's happening in Court Room #54.

Grant G said...

Good stuff Ross....

You are correct, if indeed the RCMP were "Watching" the meeting with Gary Collins with Omni trax executives at De lupa restaurant...

There would be no point in the RCMP only "Watching" the meeting....

No doubt the meeting was being watched "sonically"

Sleep well Gary Collins, your turn is coming soon...

Time for a bulk buy of popcorn and twizzlers.


kootcoot said...

"RossK, you may have to go comment moderation, because your first comment is SEX and PORN.

After you delete the first comment, you might as well delete my comment as well.

Both are well off topic.

Whaaaaaa? I musta missed something!

RossK said...


Fantastic stuff, thanks.

I had let the name of Mr. May slide on by...You just demonstrated why we can't do that with anything that arises during this trial.


Grant G--

And don't forget there may/perhaps/possibly be evidence of this matter being discussed by others, either by Email or on phone lines/cell grids that go, say every which way.

Or some such thing.



You mean didn't know about the mirror-upside-down-secret funhouse site I make my real living at?


Well, actually, it was just one of those silly, mostly incomprehensible spam-crap comments that was slapped up at the top of the thread that I canned after the Anon-O-Mouse at the top of the thread sounded the alarm....


macadavy said...

Was that the sound of Collins being thrown under a bus, or under a locomotive? ;-)

RossK said...


Perhaps a bus driven by a 'loco' driver?