Monday, December 10, 2007

RailGate Revisited - The Crux Of The Matter


No byline on this CP story, but we would be willing to take very short odds that it is from our old favorite, Camille Bains.

Regardless, the piece gets right to the crux of the matter.

First, the defense has come out swinging by naming the name of the former long-gone British Columbia cabinet minister who, after the Ledge Raids, bailed-out faster than DB Cooper jumped out the belly of that 727 back in 1971:

VANCOUVER - Lawyers for two former government aides want access to documents police seized from their clients' legislature offices, saying important information involving former finance minister Gary Collins's involvement in the sale of B.C. Rail is needed to mount a defence.

Michael Bolton, who represents Dave Basi, told B.C. Supreme Court on Monday that crucial information about Collins approving a consolation prize for American company OmniTRAX to stay in the bidding process is relevant to the case.

Police raided Basi's and Virk's offices on Dec. 28, 2003, about a month after the provincial government completed the $1-billion privatization sale of Crown-owned B.C. Rail, which was bought by CN Rail.

Basi was then an aide to Collins and his co-accused, Bobby Virk, worked for then-transportation minister Judith Reid.

Bolton said the boxes of documents police carted away contain information pertaining to numerous phone calls on Nov. 17, 2003, in which Basi confirmed to Virk that Collins had dangled future opportunities for OmniTRAX to do business with the B.C. government if the company stayed in the bidding process.

"It's not just Mr. Basi talking but there was a high level of awareness and acknowledgment of this consolation prize issue," Bolton said.

Now, why is this 'consolation prize' business so important?

Because that would be the potential 'quid pro quo' in which Omni Trax may have been offered the spoils (ie. the Roberts Bank Spur Line ) in return for giving faux-competitive cover to the main line deal involving CN after CP dropped out screaming (that the fix was in).

This 'quid pro quo' business is something that we RailGate obsessives, and even Vaughn Palmer, have fussed about before.

And if it's for real it demonstrates the true rot of the situation and it would strongly suggest that at least two of the accused, Mr. David Basi and Mr. Robert Virk, may not have been acting alone and in fact may have, as Mr. Palmer has suggested, been acting to protect (B.C.) Liberal interests.

And what does the government (ie. the B.C. Liberals) for whom the long-gone Minister once worked have to say about all of this?

Well, of course, they say that all of this stuff must be kept under wraps, well, just because:

George Copley, a lawyer for the executive branch of the government, said the documents seized by police are protected by solicitor-client privilege and can't be released to defence lawyers.

He said they include advice from lawyers and bankers on the sale of B.C. Rail and are therefore confidential.

And as for the long-gone Minister himself?

Well, he's sticking with his Pavel Bure defense:

(former Minister Gary) Collins has denied any wrongdoing in the railway deal.

To which we can only answer that it will be we, the people of British Columbia, who will be the judge of that AFTER we see all the evidence, evidence that we believe belongs to us, not Mr. George Copley and/or his paymasters.

And why do we believe that the evidence belongs to us?

Because they were our, and not Mr. George Copleys' and/or his paymasters', assets that were sold to CN in the first place.

In other words, so-called confidential 'advice from lawyers and bankers' means nothing to us, because we never, ever gave the B.C. Liberal government our consent to conduct business such as this, business that is vital to the public's interest, under a cloak of double-secret-probation, cone-of-silence, super-dooper-ultra secrecy.


Oh, and by the way, how the heckfire does advice from 'bankers' fit under the umbrella of 'solicitor-client privilege' anyway?
All in all,
it's an excellent piece from the CP. It has all the important stuff in it that was missing from the piece we fussed about last Friday.

Oh, and just a reminder for those of you who are still wondering why there has been so little local coverage of this story recently, apparently, if you were to believe very fine media folk like Mr. Keith Baldrey, it is all because the long-goners are so long-gone that nobody cares. Sheesh.
And once again, our thanks goes out to B.C. Mary for all the work she's done keeping this thing alive and archiving the stories like Mr. Palmer's cited above so that we, the people (and, yes, the obsessives), can bring them back into the light of day once more.
Bill Tieleman, who for the first time in a long time as not in court today following RailGate, weighs in and points ount the following: "
Collins denies any wrongdoing in the BC Rail deal but court has heard he was the subject of police surveillance when he met with officials from U.S. bidder OmniTRAX at Villa del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver in November 2003." Kinda/sorta pokes, at the very least, teeny, tiny hole in the P. Bure "I didn't do anything wrong" defense don't you think?


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