Thursday, August 31, 2006
Public Access Computers ... really!
"Just type in the name, and the information appears," said the Victoria Registry Trial Cordinator, whose name is Diane Lezetch. Her phone number is (250) 356-2050, or 217-4196. Her office is Room 210 at Victoria Court House.
If searching for Dave Basi's trial dates, he is listed as Udhe Basi.
So there's 1) the Basi, Virk, Basi trial (Legislature Raids) ... 2) the Basi, Duncan, Young trial (Sooke A.L.R.) ... and the somewhat related trial #3 of former Constable Ravinder Dosanjh (Obstruction of justice) which suddenly stopped on May 17 after only 2 days.
I don't have time right now to follow up on this Public Access Computers tip. If anyone else can look into it, via their local court house, I'd surely appreciate hearing about it. We can post the info right here.
There are also the "9 others" who were charged after the Legislature Raids ...
But ... if it's this easy, why couldn't Vaughn Palmer answer my question about the re-start of the Ravinder Dosanjh trial, I wonder. I really hope the Public Access route is easy, though. That's how court data oughta be.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Messing with the A.L.R., beyond Sooke
In 2004, a group of agrologists, planners, nutritionists and others interested in protecting B.C. farmland formed a group called the Agricultural Land Reserve Protection and Enhancement Committee to battle what it contended was a dangerous attack on the ALR. They invited the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Clinic to report on their findings. Their report says that the Agricultural Land Commission is failing to protect farmland from development. It is calling on the B.C. premier to launch a full-scale public enquiry. [Too slow ... oh, much too slow! - BC Mary.]
The current system is operating under 3-person regional panels which tend to accept what a developer says rather than pay attention to what the public service advises.
In an August 29 Times Colonist article Report: Farmland Vanishing, Jeff Rud lists the evident flaws in the current system, where some of these 3-person regional panels have approved removal of ALR land without testing key evidence; approved tourism buildings on reserve land on the assumption that the land could later be reclaimed for agricultural use; and failed to consult the local farming community.
"We looked at just 4 cases and turned up these anomalies and problems," said the Environmental Law Clinic's legal director. "It makes a pretty compelling case for government to establish a public inquiry to see if this is a commonplace problem, because hundreds of decisions have been made." They highlighted those 4 cases, which affected Courtenay, Windermere Lake in the East Kootenays, Abbotsford, and Sechelt. [Unfortunately, it does not mention Sooke.]
B.C.'s population is expected to grow by at least 1.3 million people over the next 25 years. In order to produce what it does now -- roughly 50% of the food consumed by British Columbians -- the province will need 1 million additional hectares of farmland, producing at the same rate as farms now in operation, said Dave Sands, recently retired as regional director for the South Coast including Vancouver Island.
Another excellent article appears in The Tyee today, 30 Aug., by Charles Campbell: Fixing the Agricultural Land Commission will take vision and spine.
If you're like me, you probably read the brief reports of Basi, Duncan, and Young being charged with allegedly offering and/or accepting a $50,000. bribe for the purpose of allegedly removing land from the Sooke A.L.R. which did subsequently become a real estate development. I thought it was a one-off, didn't you?
But if corruption is proven to have entered into the system protecting our future food production, that's a whole new erosion of public assets.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
It reminded me of Bob Edwards who a century ago, launched and edited a newspaper called "The Calgary Eyeopener", which it surely was.
Bob, a Scot with a good education, wrote the truth as he saw it -- usually in unflattering terms -- and the more exalted his subject, the more ruthless was Bob's scrutiny of them -- and his readers loved it. Well, most of his readers loved it.
But after a while, his publisher advised Bob to use the word "alleged" more, explaining his advice "as being safer in case of libel suits."
So on 4 April 1902, in his Calgary Eyeopener, the unrepentant Bob shared this advice with his readers, and then wrote, "We'll use the word right now. J.W. Pringar of Cayley, with his alleged daughter, paid High River a visit last week. After putting his alleged horse in the barn, Mr Pringar filled up on some alleged whiskey which seemed to affect his alleged brains.
"It was alleged by those who saw him capering about the burg that he is under ordinary circumstances an alleged man but few who saw him climb our flagstaff backwards will believe that he is other than a monkey.
"Mr Pringar and his alleged daughter, after making extensive purchases of alleged pork sausages from George Meyer, returned home the same evening, Miss P. driving."
From "The Best of Bob Edwards" edited by the historian Hugh A. Dempsey. Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton AB, 1975. ISBN 0-88830-096-4.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Organized crime groups now number 800 in Canada
Nearly 800 organized crime groups now operate in the country, up from 600 several years ago, with a makeup as diverse as the country's cultural mosaic, RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli said on 18 August '06.
"Organized crime has come to represent the darker side of globalization by exploiting the same things we've come to take for granted -- the free flow of goods and people around the world and the rapid advancement of technology."
Yep, that's what RCMP Sgt John Ward told us, the day after the police raided the B.C. Legislature, going on 3 years ago.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Scared out of his wits, Premier Campbell announces a "reasonable deal" in BC's best interests
Why am I telling you this, on the blogspot of The Legislature Raids? Well, it's because, in the final analysis, whatever the issue, we want justice to prevail. The kind of justice I hope for in the Basi & Virk affair must be seen to be guaranteed by the government structure we have in place right now. And this softwood lumber news item floors me, it's so contrary to justice, and to BC's best interests.
It doesn't help that today's Times Colonist story carries a photo of Premier Campbell with Rich Coleman standing by his side, both of them looking scared out of their wits, as they make the announcement.
I'm scared too. Because why? Because of the comparison with yesterday's Globe and Mail, published in another province by a different corporation, which carries a story boosting legal opposition to the softwood lumber deal.
The story, by Simon Tuck in Ottawa, begins: "The World Trade Organization handed Canada a legal victory on softwood lumber yesterday that could help bolster the forestry industry's opposition to a proposed deal with the U.S. [So why didn't the B.C. premier wait, to give added strength to Canada's position?]
"...The Ontario Forest Industries Association said the WTO ruling, the latest in a series of legal wins that have mostly gone Canada's way, is a big one. "This decision is right up there among the most important for Canada," said the assoc. president ...
"But the ruling will mean little if the proposed Canada-U.S. softwood deal is approved next week. The ruling's key significance, he said, may be that it could boost the confidence of those Canadian producers thinking about voting against the bilateral deal. " In other words, it was the spine-stiffener which our Canadian leaders seemed to need. Why in the world did the BC premier jump the gun on this?
Why did the B.C. premier go rushing in breathlessly, eyes sticking out of his head, scrambling to give the U.S. what it wants, before next Monday's deadline. Does this make sense? Does this make us feel confident that when a crisis occurs -- as in The Legislature Raids -- that justice will prevail? That B.C.'s best interests will be served?
And while I'm at it, there was another news item last evening which hits an 8 or a 9 on the social richter scale: That police have investigated 2,500 suspected criminal incidents at lower mainland casinos this past year. Little bitty things, like loan sharking, human trafficking, and suspected murder. Like, is organized crime sitting quietly, knitting, while British Columbia waits and waits for the trials to begin for the Legislature Raids? Maybe there's no connection whatever, but we don't know that either.
Well, I should've said "Don't get me started", because now I remember promising recently to talk about some of the organized crime indicators I had seen lately. Here goes.
* there's an old hotel on Vancouver Island which served a bang-up logger's breakfast. Ketchup bottles on formica tables. Guys in their work clothes. Very down-to-earth. And a great breakfast. Last summer, I was there when 2 big guys calmly sauntered in wearing Hells Angels full-patch jackets. The clientele seemed to freeze. But the cook came rushing out, and threw her arms around the biggest, ugliest H.A., and sat for many unpleasant minutes on his knee. Sheesh. Last time I looked, the historic old cafe is gone.
* the citizen who had a Harley-Davidson motorbike rode onto a BC ferry, parking where the ferry crew told him where to park, i.e., beside all the other motorbikes. But all the other motorbikes happened to belong to Hells Angels who told the citizen to f-off. He didn't. In fact, he said he f-ing wouldn't. And so the H.A. bravely joined forces and dropped the citizen's bike overboard.
* two homeowners have recently opened their doors to strangers wishing to buy their nice but not spectacular oceanfront homes. Immediately. For cash, as in: $4 million cash, which was being carried in briefcases. These two real estate stories are disturbing because (a) although seemingly verifiable but not reported, and (b) that the cash-carriers (obviously illicit) felt so comfortable about the British Columbia environment that they didn't mind the risk of being apprehended with $4 million in cash which, I bet, they could not explain as legal.
* there was a guy with the porche sportscar which he decided to sell. He privately decided on a price of $16,000. Somebody answered his advertisement, liked the Porche, and asked the price. The guy cagily said nothing as the buyer started laying down $1,000. bills ... 16 of them ... still the guy said nothing ... until the buyer had piled up 32 of the $1,000. bills ... then the guy magnanimously said, "Enough! That'll do."
* a city building contract given to a leading member of the Hells Angels.
I did a little experiment with Story #1 above, and told quite a few people about "having breakfast with the Hells Angels". I was stunned by the responses. I'll talk about that, if you like, another time. For now, all I'd ask is for you to think about this as a new level of crime which, as the U.N. warned, threatens a nation's sovereignty.
And like RCMP Sgt John Ward said right after the Legislature Raids, organized crime in B.C. seems to have reached critical mass since 2001. Sgt Ward chose that moment to say these dark and dangerous things. And that's what I often do, too: I link the changes in our social expectations to the ominous significance of the Legislature Raids.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
This B.C. scandal has all the earmarks of the Customs Scandal of 1925 which almost unseated Prime Minister Mackenzie King
LARRY ZOLF: Guilt by association CBC News Viewpoint January 5, 2004
"Targets of Raids had Ties to Martin" said the big and bold front page headline in The Globe and Mail.
The story went on to say that two B.C. ministerial assistants who are "of interest to the RCMP were organizers in British Columbia's Indo-Canadian community for Mr. Martin's successful leadership bid." David Basi, "a key ministerial aide and friend of B.C. Finance Minister Gary Collins" has been fired. The second aide, Bob Virk, is a suspended assistant to B.C. Transportation Minister Judith Reid. The recent RCMP raid on the B.C. legislature and several other offices is a spillover of a 20-month drug-dealing and money-laundering investigation.
The Globe story's linkage to Paul Martin is that the two aides were involved with Mark Marissen, Martin's campaign director in B.C. Marissen's wife, Christy Clark, is deputy premier and education minister in the Liberal B.C. government.
Federal Environment Minister David Anderson "at one time or another employed most of these people," including Marissen and Erik Bornman. Bornman, a lobbyist, and Martin's "chief B.C. leadership organizer," is affectionately known as Spiderman for his "attempt several years ago to get into the B.C. Liberal party's locked membership offices through its ceiling panels." Bornman and Marissen were "also visited by the police."
Another Globe headline, "Drug Raids Highlight B.C. Political Links" is over a spider web of pictures of leading B.C. and Ottawa Liberals. Prominently displayed are the PM and David Anderson. Scott Reid, Martin's senior advisor, said: "Paul Martin will not suspend senior election campaign aides and other key supporters who have been caught up in a criminal investigation in a drug trafficking and money laundering scheme." The RCMP has contacted no one in Martin's office and Reid said the scandal obviously deals with "provincial matters."
This whole affair is reaching for Paul Martin in much the same way as the Customs Scandal of 1925 pulled at Mackenzie King. That was "the worst scandal in the Party's history" said historian Bruce Hutchison. "It (the Customs Scandal) accused Jacques Bureau, the Customs minister, of gross dereliction, the government of connivance with criminals, the Liberal party of debauchery. "Officials were guilty of condoning and assisting a ring of smugglers from coast to coast. The government on Bureau's advice had modified or quashed the sentences of criminals convicted in the courts. Liberal hangers-on were fattening on contraband, mostly liquor which flowed in swelling cataracts north and south across the American border."
Soon smugglers like Daivy Weisberg and Moses Aziz, and customs and immigration inspector J.G.A Bisaillon were "at the centre of the Customs Scandal" and were in the headlines of the day, household words across the nation. King took full responsibility for the Customs Scandal and cheekily put the guilty minister in the Senate and out of harm's way. But King and his ministry had not connived with the underworld. And though Martin has certainly not connived with the underworld, he is now being charged with a similar guilt by association.
A National Post headline reads: "Paul Martin refuses to suspend aides in B.C. Scandal. Provincial matters."
Chuck Strahl, the Alliance MP, was struck by the calmness with which the Martin team was greeting all this. "I can't believe he would say these are police raids on several of my key folks in B.C. but it doesn't really matter, and saying, you know, it is just a provincial matter. I mean, there is a criminal investigation going on here." True enough, but so far there is only guilt by association, that political disease that has sometimes proved deadly.
But there is something fishy going on out there and Martin may find himself broadsided by it. There is no win-win in the B.C. mess for Paul Martin. He can stick by his aides in B.C. and be seen as Premier Gordon Campbell is being seen, as if there's really nothing in all this to disturb his vacation. Martin may simply be sitting tight because the Mounties have not asked him or his office any questions about the B.C. scandal. If there are no more developments in the situation, this strategy could work well for Martin. Martin is on holiday at his Quebec retreat and nobody in the press has tried to get to him. Scott Reid is doing nicely but the PM would be foolish to expose himself to any scrums with the paparazzi.
Martin needs a media strategy for the B.C. scandal because the bits and pieces are coming out slowly. The public appetite for wanting to know more is growing day by day.
Meanwhile, this B.C. scandal has all the earmarks of King's Customs Scandal. Perhaps the Mounties will find politicos who have been dealing in drugs and laundering money. When that happens, the guilt by association, the media's nibbling away at Martin's integrity, will finally come to an end. Perhaps Martin will come out not only unblemished but better for having undergone this whole sordid experience.
I wonder. Paul Martin seems to have faded quietly into the sunset. Considering his passionate battle to become prime minister, it's hard to imagine how he could have changed so much, so quickly.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I did not know the alleged behaviours were taking place
(With much help from a long-ago column by Vaughn Palmer)
At their first caucus meeting after the police raid on the B.C. Legislature, the B.C. Liberals were understandably shaken up.
The caucus whip, Kevin Krueger, said that a source of political concern was the degree to which Dave Basi, the fired aide to House Leader and Minister of Finance Gary Collins, was involved with the Paul Martin federal Liberals. Krueger said, "We have an internal rule that our staff don't work on federal campaigns." [Ever wondered why?]
Well, there's a good reason. The LINO party, or Liberal In Name Only, is a coalition of political parties, some of whom support competing parties federally. For example, B.C. Liberals who are federal Conservatives were embarrassed to discover that a senior aide to a B.C. Minister of Finance was recruiting for the federal Liberal party.
Their comments were directed not so much at Dave Basi, as at Gary Collins, the B.C. Cabinet Minister who had recruited him into the inner circle of government," wrote Vaughn Palmer.
Politicians were upset that the Martin link might undermine their ability to work with supporters of other federal parties.
Palmer explains: Collins had to struggle to reassure his colleagues. No one listening would have doubted that he was on the spot. He was put there, be it noted, by none other than the premier himself. In his first press conference after the raid, Gordon Campbell made a point of telling reporters that he was not aware of the extent of Basi's activities on behalf of the federal Liberals. The premier insisted that his chief of staff, Martyn Brown, was unaware as well.
Campbell repeated that line Thursday, saying "I did not know the alleged behaviours were taking place" even as he warned provincial Liberals to stay out of federal politics. Palmer surprisingly notes that: "On that score, some Liberals think the premier doth protest too much. They can't believe that he and his chief of staff, both of whom are known for controlling tendencies, were entirely ignorant of Basi's involvement in the Martin organization. More likely, they figure, the premier's office turned a blind eye, thinking it could help B.C. to have an "in" with the next prime minister. "
Nevertheless, the premier's denial meant that the buck stopped with Collins, who was personally devastated by the affair. Basi was a friend as well as an aide and he expressed hope again Thursday that "this works out for him and his family."
In political terms, some damage has already been done because the premier says provincial political aides were never authorized to be involved in federal politics. Collins can't very well say he didn't know what Basi was doing on the political front: He'd look like a fool. Besides, writes Palmer, "I have to think that Collins welcomed his aide's well-cultivated connection to (Paul Martin) the incoming prime minister. It could be useful to him in his other role as finance minister when he needed to pitch B.C.'s case to the federal moneybags. And if Collins, who not so long ago considered running federally, were to reactivate that ambition, well, it couldn't hurt politically, either.
Now Basi is gone, the federal conduit stands exposed to embarrassing scrutiny, and some of Collins' provincial colleagues are circling for a closer look, just to see if the minister is bleeding, and how much. "
Vaughn Palmer was undoubterdly accurate in his views at the time, to have expected "embarrassing scrutiny" after December 2003. But as we ploughed through one election after another, I didn't see any. You?
Monday, August 14, 2006
Ignorance is no excuse
J. MacPhail: When his office was raided, the Minister of Finance told the public that Mr. Basi was not involved in government business, including the B.C. Rail deal. We now know that isn't true. Indeed, according to the police, the alleged corruption in the Finance minister's office is tied directly to the sale of B.C. Rail and other government business. This went on right under the nose of the Minister of Finance, and he claims to know nothing.
Will he do the right thing today? Instead of just saying, "Oh, we didn't give it to the bid that was influence peddling," will he do the right thing and resign?
Hon. G. Collins: Mr. Speaker, I think there you've just seen a shameful exhibition of allegations on the floor of this House for which there's no basis in fact, and the member should be ashamed. She has taken, I think, a five- or six-page document and created a house of cards.
The reality is that the investigation is ongoing. It will continue until it reaches a conclusion. I think it's important for the member to refer to page 5 of the summary that was printed today. It says: "Further review of documents seized and further investigation may demonstrate no persons have committed a criminal offence." She should keep that in mind when she makes her comments in this House as well as outside.
Mr. Speaker: Leader of the Opposition has a supplementary question.
J. MacPhail: It was the Solicitor General that stood in this Legislature and said it's not surprising that organized crime has penetrated the Legislature. Did the Minister of Finance berate the Solicitor General for saying that? Absolutely not, because he knows that the Solicitor General had full knowledge of what was in the search warrants when he made that statement. The Solicitor General said that statement with full knowledge of what's in the search warrants, and now the Minister of Finance is trying to pooh-pooh the summary of information based on those warrants.
In opposition, that Minister of Finance called for the resignation of countless ministers on matters of much less significance. On a regular basis he did do that.
The Minister of Finance still claims to be ignorant of what was going on in his office with his chief political aide, an aide he personally hired. Mr. Speaker, ignorance is not a defence. The minister needs to take responsibility for the corruption that took place right under his nose.
About that 83 kg of cocaine ...
Or more specifically:
Sheesh. Made my eyes go big and round like daisies. Yes, that Andrew Coyne. He's featuring an article by Mark Hume which appeared in the Globe and Mail, talking about the land "ethics forgot". That would be British Columbia. Have a look at the comments too.
And then, for god's sake, the story sinks like a stone again.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Key federal liberal activists and executives are linked to this disturbing story
" ... Following release of the search-warrant summary, federal Liberal party B.C. president Bill Cunningham said: 'There really wasn't a linkage between the investigation to any Liberal party federal matter or political activity of the party.' "
But Bill Tieleman disagrees, and says: "In fact, key federal Liberal party activists and executives are very much linked to this disturbing story." And he promised more background analysis: "In a future column, more on the key federal and provincial Liberal players, including federal Environment Minister David Anderson, Sharon Apsey, past B.C. president of the federal Liberals, Erik Bornman, Bruce Clark, and others."
I'll try to look this up on Monday but today my time is up at this wonderful little public computer lab run by the Parksville school district's "Project Literacy" where others are waiting to use one of the 7 available computers. But if anyone has a spare hour on the weekend, maybe you'd check out Bill Tieleman's columns while he was still at The Straight.com and post your findings. Me, I'm heading back to the beach. Cheers.
The search, said the premier, is troubling
Police raids in B.C. linked to drug investigation
Last Updated Wed, 14 Jan 2004 19:28:12 EST
VICTORIA - Two political assistants have been removed from their jobs in British Columbia, less than 24 hours after police raided their offices in the provincial legislature.
The potentially scandalous investigation erupted into the open on Sunday when police raided the two offices inside the B.C. legislature in connection with a drug investigation. Now there is speculation the 20-month investigation could lead well beyond Victoria.
Police carry files out Sunday
B.C.'s biggest cash crop - marijuana - lies at the heart of this latest scandal.
Now, questions are being asked after it was learned that some of Prime Minister Paul Martin's most active supporters in B.C. were the targets of the dramatic police raids.
On Sunday morning, in the middle of the holidays, the RCMP and the Victoria police struck, carting off hundreds of files from the B.C. legislature. Those files came from the offices of two ministerial staffers.
One staffer is David Basi, a top aide to B.C. Finance Minister Gary Collins and a senior activist for the Paul Martin campaign. The other is Bob Virk, another Martin activist who's an aide to B.C. Transportation Minister Judith Reid.
The raid at the legislature was followed by more in Vancouver and other locations in B.C., but all the search warrants were sealed.
The RCMP won't say what they're looking for, only that the raids are a spin-off from a major drug investigation and as a result of something they learned in a probe of organized crime involving big-time marijuana smuggling and the exchange of British Columbia pot for U.S. cocaine.
So far, 9 people have been arrested; 3 in Toronto and 6 in B.C. The Mounties won't say how that case led them to the B.C. legislature, but they said the drug trade is not just about biker gangs.
"The fact that $6 billion a year is generated by this industry shouldn't surprise anyone that many people are susceptible to being corrupted," said RCMP Sgt. John Ward.
CBC News has learned that another RCMP raid was carried out at a Victoria public relations firm called the Pilothouse Public Affairs Group. A partner in the firm is Eric Bornman, who also has a connection with the prime minister. He was director of operations for the Paul Martin leadership campaign.
Bornman is also listed as communications director for the federal Liberal party in B.C. He was not available for comment.
David Basi, the staffer in the B.C. Ministry of Finance, was fired on Monday. In a statement he said that he is co-operating with the RCMP and has done nothing wrong.
The other ministerial assistant, Bob Virk, has been suspended with pay.
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell says the search of offices at the legislature, and the ensuing investigation, is troubling.
"I don't think anyone wants this sort of thing to take place ever in the province ... I'd certainly rather that this was not taking place. But it is, and we're going to be as open and transparent as we can without jeopardizing the investigation," he told reporters by telephone while on holiday in Hawaii.
Do not laugh. This is no laughing matter. But holy catfish, did he really say that he was going to be "open and transparent" about the legislature raids??
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Don't worry. Be happy.
I mean, was it only me, or was that a rotten lousy piece of work to arrest Dave Basi for allegedly accepting a bribe from Erik Bornman without also charging Bornman for allegedly offering the bribe? Like, wouldn't it have been Bornman -- presumably with his partner Brian Kierans at Pilothouse Public Affairs -- who most likely had thought up the whole caper? Like, isn't intent an important component of guilt?
I admit that I did think it was a bit thick that Basi should end up completely out of luck -- losing his job, arrested, charged, unemployed and perhaps even unemployable -- while life just got better and better for Bornman who, after slithering into a successful year at UBC Law School, was then accepted by one of the most prestigious law firms in the country to do his articling. I could almost see him at the Crown Prosecutor's table, bringing down insults upon his old friends; but no, f.c.s., he was the golden boy, rewarded for ratting them out. Uncroyable. Made me want to kick something.
And how come that high-powered McCarthy Tetreault never caught onto the radio-active issues surrounding Bornman until a formal complaint was filed with the Law Society? I want to know who filed that complaint. I want that person to become the next B.C. premier.
But right now, what's next? There are others leading the high life, as we speak, who are not yet outed or charged. They may succeed in never being charged. Cripes, even Erik Bornman has not been charged, but he's at least been embarrassed, and that was such a relief in a situation where, after more than 2-1/2 years, it had begun to seem as if nobody would be called to account and nothing would ever be put right again. The golden era, right? Where the public interest just gets pissed on regularly.
Right now, I wonder if Bornman will continue to be the Prosecution's key witness against Basi and Virk. Will Bornman be charged? Will Kierans be charged?
One day soon, I'm going to make a list of the ordinary everyday danger signals I've observed this summer, dreaded signals that criminal corruption has had enough time to get a strong grip on the province of British Columbia.
How long can we wait before we start bringing the Legislature charges out in the open, at trial, under oath, so as to understand what kind of a pickle this province is in?
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Bless the journalists ... and the fearless publishers
Erik Bornman, the prosecution's key witness in December's B.C. Legislature raid trial, has resigned his position as an articling law student with Toronto-based law firm McCarthy Tetrault after a complaint against him was filed with the Law Society of Upper Canada, 24 hours has learned.
"Mr. Bornman resigned July 6 from the firm. That's all we're prepared to say," McCarthy Tetrault Communications Director Doug Maybee confirmed in an interview. Bornman's name has already been pulled from their website.
Bornman has been identified in court documents as allegedly providing bribes to David Basi and Bob Virk, the two former B.C. Liberal government ministerial aides who face breach of trust and other charges stemming from the December 2003 police search of the Legislature.
None of the allegations have been proven at trial.
The case involves allegations that confidential government information connected to the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail was provided to lobbyists working for a bidder. Bornman was a lobbyist working for OmniTRAX, which tried unsuccessfully to buy B.C. Rail.
Although the Law Society of Upper Canada refused to confirm or deny Bornman is the subject of a complaint, 24 hours sources confirmed a complaint was filed against Bornman.
Law Society spokeswoman Lisa Hall said that unless notice of disciplinary action is sent to a lawyer or articling law student, complaints and investigations are confidential.
The Law Society has a "Good Character Requirement" for all members. The requirement asks whether the applicant has been involved in criminal proceedings, fraud or other misconduct.
Bornman and Brian Kieran, his former partner at lobby firm Pilothouse Public Affairs [now K&E Public Affairs] are alleged to have provided money and other benefits to Basi and Virk but have not been charged with any criminal offence.
McCarthy Tetrault is a major donor to the federal Liberal Party, contributing tens of thousands of dollars in past years. The law firm also gave $118,000 to Paul Martin's leadership campaign in 2003.
Bornman was an aide to Martin when the former prime minister was finance minister.
Bornman could not be reached for comment. His former Vancouver telephone is disconnected and there is no number registered for Bornman in Toronto.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Journalists are historians ... like it or not
I've been thinking a lot about the media upon which we all rely for news of the world. I'm all for the media. In my opinion, a respected journalist -- a Robert Fisk or an Adrienne Arsenault -- demonstrates the highest degree of courage, intelligence, and public service. We're in their debt.
But even a Fisk is nothing without a publisher. Luckily, he has The Independent publishing his reports from the battle zones of the Middle East; Arsenault has Canadian Broadcasting Corporation behind her. And in British Columbia ... ?
We have Canwest and the Black newspaper group owning almost every news outlet, with scarcely an iota of difference between them. Good journalists have withheld their by-lines in protest when editorial changes pushed their reports in an unaccepted direction. It's that, or quit, or go with the flow. It's a tough call, because the Asper family and David Black are partisan louts in a field which must be even-handed and fair-minded to be an effective source of news.
BC media is silent when they ought to investigate and explain. They shriek when there is nothing to shriek about. Busy readers recognize the charade and tend to lump all media factors together -- the journalists as well as the publishers -- and call "the media" bad names, turn them off, and in my opinion lose out on the option of salvaging what little we do have. Because readers have a duty to educate the publishers.
Journalists are our historians -- academics on the run -- and whether unduly biased or not, their reports form the tapestry of our times. If B.C. journalists aren't able to do their best work, blocked as they are by a business attitude which sees its primary function as influencing and shaping public affairs for private purposes, the publishers are saying: public interest be damned, and the public record along with it. We can speak to that. Phone, write, e.mail, to journalists as well as publishers, it does make a difference.
What it means, in the long run, is that British Columbians on the one hand ... and the media which fails to serve them honestly on the other hand, are locked in a deadly conflict of interest.
The ideal solution? Maybe average folks should have their own special news media to speak for them. But media ownership is a rich man's game. Buying and operating a newspaper or TV station is beyond the moon for anybody except the wealthy, and so the game turns in upon itself again: the rich promoting the rich promotes the rich.
I've been thinking all this, while watching the tides coming in and going out on Parksville Bay. I remembered a booklet called "Bingogate's Victim" written by a former Attorney-General of B.C. Bet you've never seen it. Here are two quotes:
"The Liberals demanded that the Attorney General appoint a special prosecutor [who] wrote a report saying there was 'no evidence to convict' and that no individual should be charged. Why didn't that put an end to the matter? Because some Liberal pit-bulls in the Legislature did not care a fig for what [the special prosecutor] had said. They wanted more headlines.
"Gary Collins, MLA, led the Liberal assault in the Legislature. 'David [Stupich] and associates had stolen money from charities,' said Collins ... had David still been an MLA, Collins could not have said such things ... as it was, Collins could hide behind Parliamentary privilege and his words could be freely reported." As they certainly were.
2) In opposition, the B.C. Liberals had clamoured for a public inquiry ... and so, the Smith Inquiry ensued.
"One of the officials, Bob Siumpson, in 1987 as a senior gaming officer, had slipped a note to his boss, the Social Credit Attorney-General pointing out that, after a review, the NCS 'had a clean bill of health.' The commission took this as more evidence of a cover-up by civil servants ... "
"On June 23, 2001, the new Liberal Attorney-General, Geoff Plant, deep-sixed the Smith Inquiry. His party had hotly demanded the inquiry while it was in opposition. But now, fresh from a victory at the polls, the powers that be decided to axe it. The nettled commissioner loudly protested but the burial proceeded.
The new premier, "Gordon Campbell ... simply told the press that 'this enquiry is pointless because the voters have already passed judgment on the NDP by electing the Liberals'.
"His words let the cat out of the bag. The trumped-up Liberal charges had served their political purposes ... they had played an ignominious role in a disgraceful episode in the political and judicial history of B.C."
A friend of mine said to the author, "Alex, you're going to be sued!"
Alex Macdonald, a former B.C. attorney-general, replied, "Good! There's a lot more I'd like to say in court under oath!" But he was never sued.
His final words in this 40-page booklet: "David and his friends left a proud legacy to Nanaimo and its residents, as well as to the people of B.C. It is outrageous that he should ever have been charged."