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....