Tag Archives: BasiVirk

Rich Coleman was recently caught in a conflict of interest scandal (Darryl Dyck - Canadian Press)

Rafe: BC Liberal Government Corrupt


The Campbell/Clark government is corrupt and here are a few of the reasons I say this:

  • Campbell gets convicted of drunken driving and doesn’t resign as he certainly would have demanded that an NDP premier do
  • The 2009 budget that was $1.2 billion short of reality – this amounted to a fraud upon the voters
  • The lies about the HST
  • The BC Rail stink
  • The use of public finds to promote the Liberal Party
  • The use of public servants for party political purposes
  • Private power contracts for political pals which are bankrupting BC Hydro

Readers will, no doubt, find other reasons.

In recent weeks we discovered Rich Coleman taking election funds from a brewery he is now about to save $9 million in taxes.

Let me tell you about the standards that prevailed in my years (1975-81) in the Bill Bennett government.  And, I must say, in the Barrett government before it. Now, mark you, I’m not talking about what policies they supported but the integrity of the premier and his ministers.

I had Coleman’s job and the first thing I did was check my small RRSP and found I had a few shares in Hiram Walker Distillers, which I promptly sold at a small loss.

Of more importance, in 1978 I was greeted by a headline in the morning paper alleging that I had interfered in a hearing before the Rentalsman (the arbiter for rental disputes at the time) who came under my ministry. There wasn’t a particle of truth in it but the Premier gave me 48 hours to deal with it.

It transpired that a judge, hearing an appeal from a decision by the Rentalsman, heard a witness say she had “heard that the minister himself got involved in the case”.

The Rentalsman publicly said that I had had nothing to do with it and had never interfered with his office. I hired a lawyer, now Supreme Court Justice, who within the time limit prevailed upon the judge to withdraw his remarks and say outright that there was no evidence at all that I had even known about the matter let alone interfered in it.

My seat in cabinet was jeopardized, quite properly, by those two matters.

When Minister Jack Davis was being investigated for fraud the Premier promptly sacked him. The standard is not, you see, reasonable doubt but “is the minister under a cloud of reasonable suspicion?”  This principle, one of the foundations of democracy, is not well known to the public nor, it seems, to the Campbell/Clark government.

What has this got to do with environmental matters?

Plenty for this government is going to represent us on pipeline matters, tanker matters and many other concerns we all have about our environment.

The killing of the HST has involved the premier trying to make the best possible deal with the feds when the tax expires just a month before the next election.

Thus the essential question arises: When the feds approve the various pipelines proposed without even the usual sham of an environmental assessment process, what will Premier Clark be doing? Will she, in fact, take favours from the feds and promise not to interfere in return? Indeed, has she already done this?

Are she and her ministers going to fold and do as their federal masters demand in fear of recriminations?

There are some, no doubt, who say that the feds should have their way as they speak for all Canada. That ignores the very principle under which Canada governs itself – namely a division of powers under the Constitution Act (1982), which follows the BNA Act (1867), which underlies a federal state as is the case in Germany, Australia and the USA.

Prime Minister Harper is no doubt going to approve these pipelines and the consequent tanker traffic using the omnibus clause giving him that right under section 91 – “Works connecting provinces; beyond boundaries of one province; within a province but to the advantage of Canada/or more than one province”.

The province retains a number of powers it can use such as the right to issue licenses – especially water licenses – to protect wildlife, including non-migratory fish and to protect its shoreline. 

Will Premier Clark have the courage of our convictions and say, “Prime Minister, these pipelines will be subject to our rights to protect our environment under Section 92 and they will be rigorously enforced?”

Or will there be under the table “deals” made linking pipelines and tankers to other issues between Ottawa and Victoria? Such as the HST? Such as selling our constitutional rights for money from Ottawa’s share of royalties and other taxes collected?

There is no middle ground – just as a woman can’t be a “little bit pregnant”, we either stand up for our environment or we don’t.

In short – forgive the expression – will she have the balls to stand up to the feds or, more likely, will she and her ministers try to find some middle ground?

What we need is an honest government of honest men and women protecting us against the predations of greedy corporations, the government of China and the raw uninhibited capitalism of Prime Minister Harper and his toadies from BC.

Clearly, standing up for our rights and honest dealings based on principles is not this government’s strong suit.


Fighting the Corporate Take-Over of BC


I write this not just as a New Year’s thought but also as one looking personally at his ninth and presumably last decade. And a sad scene I see.

From the commencement of time ownership and control of societies have been shared, preposterously unfairly, between “them that has and them that doesn’t”.

It continues today as never before. What the super rich don’t own, they control. 100s of thousands of jobs, thanks to the computer, have been exported to lands where labour is dirt-cheap and where benefits are minimal if they exist at all.

We are witnessing the corporatization of our government by the powerful. It’s an easy task, for the ordinary MP or MLA, by reason of our rotten system, does what his or her leader orders. The decisions of society are no longer made by parliaments – if they ever were – but in the corporate boardroom.

A question or two:

What say did you have re: fish farms? What say have you about the huge damage these farms present? What say have you now on new licenses?

What say have you had in the destruction our rivers by large and very rich foreign companies? Have you agreed that it’s a good thing that these private sector companies get a sweetheart deal, where they sell power to BC Hydro for more than twice what it’s worth, forcing Hydro to buy this power at a huge loss when they don’t need it?

BC Hydro is technically bankrupt – is that what you thought you would have when the Campbell government set forth its private energy policy, turning over power production to rich companies like General Electric?

What say did you have in the privatization of BC Rail where the Campbell government gave our railroad away in a crooked deal that the government hushed up?

What about the Enbridge Pipeline scheduled to ship hundreds of thousands of barrels of Tar Sands gunk (aka bitumen) from the Alberta to Kitimat? Have you had a say in this matter? The only reason to send this gunk to Kitimat is so that it can be shipped down our coast through the most dangerous waters in the world – have you had a say in this?

Of course you haven’t and it’s instructive, I think, to note that Premier Clark will only express her opinion after the rubber stamping National Energy Board has deliberated.

Premier Photo-Op doesn’t seem to understand that the approval of the pipeline means oil tankers at almost one a day sailing down our pristine coast line.

Is the premier that dumb?

Or is it that her government is prepared to approve tanker traffic?
The companies and politicians talk about minimal risk – the plain, incontrovertible fact is this:


The issue facing BC can be simply stated: will we give up our land and resources to the private sector and, while we do it, will we accept the destruction of our environment?

The Corporations say that these efforts, fish farms, private power, pipelines and tankers will being lots of money and lots of jobs into BC.

I ask two questions – what money and what jobs? Building fish farms, private dams and pipelines bring construction jobs, mostly to off shore crews, and leave behind a few caretakers to watch the computers. The profits go out of the province into the pockets of Warren Buffet and his ilk.

This is the fact Premier Clark must ponder and soon: will the public of BC simply accept these destructions of our beautiful province? Will they just simply shake their heads and go quietly?

In my view they won’t. Through the ages the long-suffering public takes so much and no more. Read your history, Madame Premier – there comes a tipping point where the public will take no more and in my judgment we have reached that point.

I beg of you, Premier, shake the scales from your eyes, look and think! This isn’t a right wing versus left wing matter but a question of right and wrong.

The last thing in the world I want to see is violence but I tell you fair that the decision rests upon you – if you don’t deal with the fish farmers, the energy thieves, the pipelines and tankers there will be violence, and that will be the legacy of the Campbell/Clark government.


Campbell/Clark Libs Have No Credibility – HST Promises Meaningless


I commented here last week upon Premier Clark’s silence on all the great issues she faces and questioned what her policies will be. I expect no answer because she wants to put all Gordon Campbell did into the darkest corner of the cupboard. The strategy is “that was then and now is now”; I am Premier Clark and my responsibility started last March 14 when I was sworn in.

This, as I will show, is not so. It started the day she became a Campbell cabinet minister in May 2001.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane but start with a current issue – what does the HST have in common with the environment? The answer to this will weave an unbroken and unbreakable thread back to 2001.

Both the HST end the environment ask public acceptance based upon the credibility of the Campbell/Clark government – a government that has lied through its teeth for the seemingly endless decade-plus they have been in power.

Surely no one, not even the Fraser Institute, believes that the Liberal government will drop the HST to 10% in 2014!

First of all, God’s mercy will see that they’re no longer in power so they won’t be around to keep a pledge they never intended to keep on the first place. If God is just and not merciful, there isn’t a chance that a future Liberal government will keep that promise. In short, Ms. Clark has made a pledge she will never redeem and may never be required to.
All government policy depends upon credibility. Unfortunately, the public has learned to expect some government deceit but usually it’s deceit by way of exaggeration – rather like the gilding of the lily practiced in most societies in order to stay at peace with one another. We learn how to discount the statements made – political statements are expected to have a measure of barnyard droppings mixed in. As former New York governor Mario Cuomo said, “You campaign in poetry and govern in prose.”
But this is different. Big time. We’re talking about major league falsehoods.
I call this government the “Campbell/Clark” government for that’s what it is. Premier Clark participated in the deceit when she was in government, accepted it uncritically when she was a talk show host, and perpetuates it in office by not dealing with it.
It started when Campbell, after holding the NDP to the highest standards of probity, somehow forgot that idealism when he was thrown into jail for drunk driving. Christy Clark, Education Minister, offered not a whisper of criticism. Like all good Liberal toadies, she went along.
He lied about BC Rail, Fish Farms and private power.
With BC Rail, he pledged in two elections including the one that made him premier that he would not privatize BC Rail (as did Ms. Clark, as co-author of the Liberals’ 2001 campaign platform). Of course, he did and Clark went along with him at the time, during her radio career and to this date.
Not a peep out of Clark, on air or in office, as Campbell settled the Basi-Virk case just before he, former Finance Minister Gary Collins, and Sir Hiss, Patrick Kinsella, were to give evidence.
Premier Campbell let fish farms expand exponentially saying that he was following the best science available. The public now knows what opponents of fish farms have always known – the scientist he was listening to was a disgrace to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and a fish farm industry suck. He was out of synch with every fish biologist in the world that deals with this issue. Christy Clark has been silent since the beginning and is silent now.
With private power companies (IPPS) the Campbell/Clark government has uttered nothing but falsehoods. I hate to dwell on poor old former Finance Minister Colin Hansen because he seems to be such a nice guy, but in a video blog the Liberals have now erased, he made half a dozen statements about so-called “run of river” policy that were plainly and simply falsehoods. These falsehoods were not minor little errors – they went to the root of the matter. Ms. Clark has not uttered a word of criticism – or strangely support – of this disastrous policy which even the Vancouver Province called “folly” and which a recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun, published under the aegis of former Fraser Institute “fellow”, Fazil Milhar, roundly criticized.
This policy forces BC Hydro to buy from IPPs power they don’t need and must thus export at a 50%+ loss or use it at double or more what they can make it for themselves. This cost Hydro $600,000,000 last year and this is just the beginning of the reckoning. Not a word from our premier.
We have seen this policy drive BC Hydro to where they would be, if in the private sector, in bankruptcy protection with much worse to come. Not a squeak of criticism or concern from Ms. Clark.

We’ve seen this policy destroy one river, and its ecology, after another yet not a word from the premier at the time the policy was made when she was a cabinet member, later as a talk show host, or now as premier. Premier Clark, a supporter of the Prosperity Mine proposal at Fish Lake, now in charge of energy and the demise of BC Hydro, acts as if nothing was happening. And now she has pipelines and tankers to deal with.
It is critical to understand that pipeline leaks and tanker accidents are not risks but certainties. The Liberal government told the Federal government, in writing, some years ago that it did not oppose super tankers on the coast. In the recent Premiers Conference Ms. Clark hedged on the pipeline issue; she refused to take a stand.
This issue, like the private power issue, has no middle ground as in “you can’t be a little bit pregnant.” All the evidence she ever needs is there in logic – an unfettered risk is a calamity in waiting – and evidence of the colossal negligence of pipeline operators generally and Enbridge specifically. The decision is “yes” or “no” and there will never be more information needed than the premier presently possesses.

Silence implies consent. One of the penalties of consenting to the Liberal record is that no credibility remains.
As it is with the HST, as it is with the disgraceful deceit by this government from the outset, so it must be predicted for the future – an utter lack of credibility.
It is a millstone around Premier Clark’s neck she consented to.

It’s a millstone she can never be rid of.


Why Christy Clark Sees no Need for Railgate Inquiry


There’s the old saw, “if a husband sends his wife flowers for no reason, there’s a reason.” So be it with the BC Rail scandal – if Christy Clark, Deputy Premier at the time of the “negotiations,” or “fix,” choose to suit, sees no reason for a full-fledged investigation into the mess, there’s a reason. The same applies to the other candidates for Liberal leader who were in cabinet at the time.

The reason an investigation must take place is to see if there was a crime, or more than one crime committed. I do not say that there was criminal activity, besides those of ministerial aides – but to discover the truth is critical so that if there was a crime it is disclosed and disposed of, and to remove the stain of suspicion that presently exists and may or may not be unfair.

Take for example this salient fact that arose out of the Basi-Virk case – two men close to a minister and reporting to him have admitted that they committed a crime. The logical question to arrive at is simple: if these aides committed crimes while doing work on a minister’s instruction, did that minister commit a crime?

The minister, of course, was Gary Collins, then Minister of Finance. Mr. Collins was not given the opportunity to clear his name because Crown Counsel, Bill Berardino, QC, settled the case on the eve of Mr. Collins’ appearance on the witness stand. Presumably Mr. Collins was on the list of ministers for a reason and one can assume that the Crown didn’t want him to demonstrate the innocence of the two accused.

You will remember the Sherlock Holmes story where he mentions to Watson about the dog barking at the scene and when Watson says, “but Holmes, no dog barked,” and Holmes replies, “Quite. Why didn’t the dog bark?” One can apply this to Gary Collins. For several years, whenever BC Rail was mentioned, Mr. Collins’ name came into the conversation as the minister responsible. Why did he never deal with the suggestions that he may have been up to no good? Isn’t that what you would do in his place?

And, when Mr. Collins was spared the witness box, why wouldn’t he then make it clear that he personally was clean, even though his employees weren’t. Isn’t that the natural thing to do? Isn’t that what you would do?

The same applies to the Premier, who was scheduled to give evidence after Mr. Collins. He might be forgiven for refusing to talk earlier – though I don’t see why – but surely he owes it to his colleagues, his supporters and, yes, the public to demonstrate that he’s not, well, a crook.

Cabinet has been silent. I don’t listen to kissy-ass radio so I’m not sure what Ms. Clark has said, but I’m advised that this has not been a big time topic on her show (though I am told her replacement Mike Smyth is taking up the issue and has given his predecessor a thorough grilling in her old time slot).

The media has a huge amount to answer for. People like me can do editorials based upon suspicions, but we have no large newspapers, TV, or radio stations to do investigations for us. I ask the columnists in this province if they applied the same standards of accountability to the Campbell government as they did to the NDP governments of the nineties. I don’t expect any answer much less an honest one.

The sale of BC Hydro in itself was a disgrace. The dream of WAC Bennett that we the citizens would get ferry service even though our community was too small to make a profit, rail service to open up the province, postponing profit, and a power company that would provide cheap power domestically and industrially has been shattered by this government.

The very least the public can expect is that these rotten decisions were made and administered honestly.

BC Rail simply doesn’t pass the smell test.

There must be a royal commission and one suspects that the politicians who resist the notion because there is no reason to, like the husband, don’t want us to put that decision to the test.

Raid on the Ministry of Finance nd Ministry of Transportation at the BC Legislatue in 2003

Tsakumis’ Must-Read Basi Files: Shocking New Twist in Railgate Scandal


Alex Tsakumis is a journalist in the style of journalism in days of yore, when political reporters were expected to hold the “Establishment’s” and especially government’s feet to the fire. The days when there was incisive reporting with columnists staying with the story until the end are, alas, of a bygone era. Journalists were like pit bulls that you could not easily dislodge from the seat of your pants. Where are the fearless fighters for the truth that seemed to vanish after the NDP were defeated in 2001?
Because those days are gone, the Campbell government and others’ fear of exposure of wrongdoing were minimized, if not eliminated – were it not for the Basi-Virk trial. Now it’s gone.
Alex has come into possession of four memos-to-file by David Basi which were certified by lawyer George Jones, QC. That doesn’t mean the contents were true, of course, but it does raise serious questions about the role played by a number of people both inside and outside of the BC Cabinet. It has not been denied that Crown Counsel had possession of those documents.
I urge everyone to go to Alex’s website and read the memos from David Basi to the file. If they are true, serious misconduct by the government occurred during the sale period.
I must say from the outset that I’m not accusing specific people of any wrongdoing. What I am going to do is deal with the settlement of the Basi-Virk case and ask some pointed questions. Absent a court case, it is you, the jury of citizens who must decide.
The issues started shortly after the 2001 election in which Premier Campbell pledged he would not privatize BC Rail. With the election behind him, Campbell asked for bidders and three came forward.
Let’s try to look at this 7 year case in a nutshell.
Nearly a year after police raided the offices of Gary Collins, then Finance Minister, Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk were charged with multiple counts of fraud and breach of trust. The two men were said to have, amongst other things, accepted benefits from one of the bidders for the Roberts Bank spur line in return for handing over confidential documents. The defendants maintained that they had instructions from Cabinet ministers to keep the bidding going because while CN was the favoured bidder and Campbell wanted the bidding to look good because CN was run by one David McLean, long a Liberal bagman and bosom buddy of his. Indeed that’s the essence of Basi’s memos.
The list of witnesses in the trial for the Crown included two Cabinet Minsters with several powerful public servants. To add to this murky pond was a $300,000 payment by BC Rail to Liberal eminence grise, Patrick Kinsella, for “consulting fees during the bidding process.” Not surprisingly, this prompted the other bidders to holler foul, claiming that the government favoured CN all along and that the others were just window dressing to make the bidding look real and mask the truth that CN had a slam dunk.
Let’s look at two things – why Crown Counsel stopped the case just as important witnesses were to be heard, and what the crash of the case meant.
The short answer is that the accused men wanted to “cop a plea” and plead guilty to a couple of charges, getting away without going to jail and having their $6 million legal bill paid by the government.
This raises, to me at any rate, the obvious question: why did Special Counsel Bill Berardino, QC, accept?
Berardino knew he had a strong case, obviously fortified by the fact that defence counsel were admitting, off the record, that their clients were guilty, and the strongest part of his case was yet to come.
Asked if there was any government pressure to end the trial, which had so far contained embarrassing allegations for the B.C. Liberal Party, Berardino said: “This is my decision. I made it on my own by myself.”
I’m sorry, I don’t believe that and subsequent statements bear out my skepticism. When I and others expressed our incredulity at Berardino’s statement, it was then admitted that, of course, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General, knew about it but he was by statute removed from the politics and that we should recognize that “cast in stone” independence the Crown Counsel Act vested in him.
It’s impossible for me to accept that the Premier didn’t instruct Crown Counsel to seek terms and, after the terms were given, order their acceptance. I don’t say that Crown Counsel was untruthful, just that I don’t believe his story.
I’ve been in government, folks, and I know governments don’t pay out $6 million, plus another $12 million in legal expenses without knowing why.
Indeed, a bit of further prodding and the Deputy Attorney-General was admitted to be part of the deal, and shortly after that we learned that the Deputy Minister of Finance was also involved. Now, instead of Crown Counsel being the only one involved, the proposed settlement meant that payment would have to be authorized by Treasury Board, meaning that if Campbell didn’t know all about it before, he sure as hell did now. To me, all suspicions were confirmed – the key point being not what Mr. Berardino said or did, but the irresistible inference that Gordon Campbell and his flunkies not only knew about the deal but gave the instructions to settle.
Let’s look at it from another angle – why would Campbell want this trial to end ingloriously when victory was as assured as such can ever be? He knew it would look like hell to the public. Obviously this means he knew it would be even worse if he and others were forced to testify. The only possible reason Campbell could have for stopping this 7 year legal odyssey was to avoid the damage surely to come if he and former Finance Minister Gary Collins had to testify and if Basi and Virk had a chance to give their version of events.

Here’s where Alex Tsakumis’ dogged determination to discover the truth comes in. He learned that Dave Basi wrote at least four memos-to-file certified by a prominent lawyer and got possession of them. If you read them – and they are available on Alex’s website – it’s all there. The bribery, the deals, the lies, and the sleaze. Could one not infer from Campbell wanting the case to end that Basi’s memos are truthful? Doesn’t this make it pretty clear that Campbell knew what was in those memos?
If that’s the case, Campbell knew that further testimony could place him, former ministers Gary Collins, Judith Read, and even the untouchable Patrick Kinsella in serious legal jeopardy?
In the famous words of Emile Zola in the Alfred Dreyfus case, “J’accuse”  the government of BC, and Premier Campbell of perverting the course of justice, then stonewalling an Independent Commission to look into this entire sordid mess. Assuming he and his colleagues’ hands are clean, wouldn’t they want to demonstration before an independent commissioner?
Surely, if they are innocent they would be begging to have a hearing.
But they aren’t. The former deputy premier during the sale of BC Rail, Christy Clark has made it clear she wants no scrutiny into her acts at the time.
If the Campbell government does not instruct a Judicial Inquiry, one can only conclude that Basi is telling the truth.
That being so, other heads should roll – but of course they won’t.




Dec. 14, 2010

From alexgtsakumis.com

Some time in early November, after the obvious deal cutting between
the B.C. government and co-defendants David Basi and Bob Virk, I
received a phone call from someone close to the prosecution and very
familiar with the BC Liberal government, who was appalled by what had
just transpired.

A long-time retired lawyer with a storied reputation when he
practiced, this wasn’t a man who was going to suffer the spin zone, and
for reasons which, in part, are entrusted with him and his client, they
provided me with several bankers boxes of information related to the
sale of BC Rail.

We met several times over the course of a week. He explained his position and that of his client as I listened.

After several more meetings, I traveled to Nanaimo, where he
introduced me to the man who delivered what I refer to as ‘The Basi

Over the next week or so I will release one ‘Memo-to-File’ per day.
They are authored by Dave Basi alone, in his own words, and after he
wrote each installment they were witnessed by Victoria lawyer George Jones, Q.C. whose unimpeachable integrity is without question and whose signature I have verified.

The memos are dated from October 6th., 2003 and extend almost two
months to November 25th., 2003 (the day after the sale of BC Rail to CN
was formalized).

What you will read is the clearest record we have thus far of how to
two key government operatives, Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, it could not
have been more clear: The BC Liberal government were running a heavily
skewed process whereby BC Rail, an asset that we were promised by Gordon
Campbell would never be disposed of, was being sold (990 year lease) to
a company run by a very close friend and bagman of the Premier of
British Columbia, David McLean. Additionally, during the course of the
disposal of this asset, as it becomes clear as day in subsequent
installments that you will read over the next week to ten days, that
breathtaking risks were taken by Basi and Virk, all to satisfy direct
orders CLEARLY coming from the Office of the Premier through former
Finance Minister Gary Collins. From Basi’s own words, it is evident that
not only was the Premier of the Province of British Columbia, Gordon
Campbell, clearly involved in directing the sale (the unseemly pressure
applied by the Premier in conversations with Bob Virk are documented by
Basi), but that other Ministers, including Gary Collins and Christy
Clark participated in various aspects through a process designed to
favour one bidder, CN, over all others.

Read full article here