The Campbell Government of BC: A Criminal Gang? Date: Thursday, October 22 2009 Topic:
Unlike other shreddings of publicly-owned assets in B.C., the "sale" of BC Rail to Texas-headquartered CN Rail has generated thousands of pages of record through pre-trial disclosures of material. Does that material contain the basis for RCMP investigation of major government actors in the sale to determine their innocence or to allege wrongdoing and to have charges laid?
The Gordon Campbell Government of British Columbia: A “Criminal Gang”?
If the title of this piece seems an adventure in humour – then it must be Black Humour. For the condition of government in British Columbia is almost beyond belief in its massing of wealth for private interests, its stripping of support for social uses and programs, its hell-bent awarding of dubious contracts, its digging the province into a debt load of surrealist size, and its almost unopposed anaesthetizing of police forces, press and media, and political Opposition.
To add to that, the province has a premier who is (always in a whisper) alleged to have elevated his mistress to a position of enormous power and to a salary that would make the heads of ordinary British Columbians spin in dizziness. A Central American dictatorship? No. The Province of British Columbia.
We think of ‘criminal gangs’ as unruly adolescents massing at street corners or (one step up) operating brutal organizations to traffic drugs or stolen commodities. We rarely take the concept further to include the rotten administrations that suck the blood from their societies in what are called often ‘Banana Republics’. Those are places where the ruling group enriches its friends as primary activity, has the support of the police, and is portrayed in its own press and media as colourful, eccentric, occasionally wayward – but the only sensible option for those who want a government which can “manage the people’s affairs responsibly”.
Those are places – like B.C. – where the political Opposition is a decoration, almost never hitting the most egregious sins, but forever glancing off critical issues in flashes like the light that flashes off diamonds making them appear more attractive. Those are places where members of the political Opposition (a) seem to make the a profession of getting elected (not of opposing), (b) have lost all ideology and so are incapable of presenting platforms with any meaning (c) are ‘managed’ by apolitical appointees who hug teaspoonsful of power (d) and – most importantly – swell and bulge to fill every opposition space so that the development of real opposition is a huge and daunting task.
In British Columbia the shadowy spending and backroom contracting for the 2010 Winter Olympics is paralleled by proposals to outlaw opposition signage anywhere within a wide radius of the games – to outlaw, that is, Freedom of Expression. Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew writes of “the draconian Olympic sign bylaws”. Conversation about that proposal is almost conducted in normal voices! And just below the border, a warehouse full of U.S. ‘experts’ is helping to design the incredibly costly “security” apparatus to assure “terrorists” won’t use the ten days or so of Olympiad to ‘destabilize’ B.C.’s law-abiding community (or to spill over into Obama Paradise with demon-like intentions). As the costs of those madnesses unfolds over 2011, 12, and onwards, British Columbians will be appalled.
Helicopters will patrol, ships (even perhaps submarines) will scour the coastline, security experts will coordinate masterful (?) police forces, special autoroutes will paralyze normal traffic. Totalitarian rule will be almost absolute.
Does anyone really pretend that will be about top-level athletics? The nature of Olympic contracts that will drag British Columbians through trenches of debt for decades go almost unexamined, except by individuals trying to shout through the smoke and mirrors. The same may be said about “expansionist” contracts that parallel “the games”. To my knowledge, one lady is attempting to track the almost lunatic structure in “Sea to Sky Highway” contracts that reek of cronyism and gigantic expenditures programmed into the far future. Laila Yuile is also trying to unpick Fraser Valley bridge contracts, expenses, networks. To my knowledge, she is doing it almost alone while the “protective” institutions of the province: media, police, political Opposition, focus attention almost anywhere else (as if by carefully scripted design).
Tearing apart any semblance of fiduciary duty – that is, responsibility to meet the promises to and the reasonable expectations of the electorate – the Gordon Campbell group has castrated, shredded, and privatized (partially in secret) BC Hydro – formerly a major dollar getter for provincial expenditures. I believe there is strong possibility of serious malfeasance involved. [Malfeasance: official misconduct; violation of a public trust or duty.]
The Gordon Campbell group is alienating the revenue gathering power of ALL B.C. rivers and passing it to private (often U.S.) interests. The action over decades will involve billions of dollars of lost government revenue and escalating energy costs to all British Columbians. Power to direct and control the exploitation of water energy will reside outside Canada. I believe there is strong possibility of serious malfeasance involved in the changes to BC Hydro and the new “rivers policy”.
BC Ferries, a spectacular dive into fake private corporate ownership in which flagrant debt is held completely by taxpayers, has a U.S.-imported CEO who recently was reported to be making a million dollars a year. Routes are trimmed. Carrying is down. Fares climb. Competence and morale sink. Bonus structures for the elect are “fantasy’. Created early in his premiership, BC Ferries is ‘a Gordon Campbell special’. The gigantic spending in having new ships built offshore seems nowhere to be recorded as part of the public debt.
Then there is the BC Rail Scandal – the transfer of BC Rail, a key economic, community lifeline and dollar-getter for provincial revenues, to the now-Texas head-quartered CN Rail. B.C. Rail was the brilliant possession of the people of B.C. with a far-stretching future of use in almost every way to the security and well-being of British Columbians. It was not only shabbily and stupidly alienated. I believe it was done so with serious – as yet untabbed – malfeasance.
I have written to the top RCMP officer in British Columbia, Gary Bass, asking for full RCMP investigation – on a brilliantly prepared basis. Deputy Commissioner Bass appears to be hiding (perhaps in Gordon Campbell’s basement?). He will not so much as acknowledge my detailed request to him. His refusal even to acknowledge my letter I insist – if it continues - is, in itself, a declaration of incompetence or of a willful refusal of duty.
“On a brilliantly prepared basis” I write of the condition for investigation of what I believe is major malfeasance in the transfer of BC Rail to CN. How so?
Out of the so-called “sale” of BC Rail – its transfer to the private corporate ownership of CN Rail – came a strange set of charges against three top cabinet aides (in the employ of Gordon Campbell who placed them in ministries). They – it is alleged – engaged (variously) in 14 counts of fraud, breach of trust, and money laundering. And they did so, allegedly, in specific relation to the “sale” of BC Rail, leaking confidential government information, accepting favours in reward, etcetera. How the men were chosen for ‘charges’, and how the specific charges were worked out becomes more and more and more difficult for an ordinary Canadian to comprehend. And that is because of new information that floods in on the matter with every “application” by the Defence counsel for evidentiary material necessary to the defence of the accused men.
The new information appears to implicate in improper behaviour major actors in the transfer, up to and including Gordon Campbell, premier of the province.
Therein lies ‘the brilliantly prepared basis” for an RCMP investigation of all major actors in the preparation and transfer of BC Rail from public ownership to the private hands of CN Rail. No such evidentiary material has been prepared, recorded, indexed, filed, maintained, archived and itemized for any of the other slippery, shoddy, shameful ‘deals’ of the Campbell group. In the matter of the BC Rail Scandal, Defence counsel has sought material relevant to the defence of the accused and has caused to be gathered thousands of pages of record about how BC Rail was “sold”.
Just two examples. Police notes suggest investigation (in 2003) of Dave Basi, Gary Collins (then Finance Minister), and Virk. Evidence shows a meeting between Collins and OmniTRAX rail officials was under police surveillance in early December, 2003. Then – as Defence counsel Kevin McCullough puts it – Collins “dropped off the radar screen”. He added that there is no record of the decision to cease investigating the Finance Minister. It just happened. Mr. McCullough remarked that he must conclude there are other documents on that matter.
Secondly. McCullough argued that the portion of the rail sale involving Roberts Bank spur line was cancelled on March 12, 2004, almost three months after the search warrant raids on legislature offices. The RCMP apparently informed government that the process was in danger, soiled by confidential leaks. McCullough went on to argue that if the Roberts Bank part of the sale was tainted, then the CN sale must be tainted, too, but it continued. Apart from defence of the three accused, if the sale to CN was tainted, what is the legal position of those in government who completed the sale?
The BC Rail Scandal has been (more and more and more, though not completely) emptying its true, rancid facts into the lap of the Supreme Court judges for more than three years of pre-trial hearings. And those facts appear to involve, I believe, important, measurable and detailed acts of malfeasance by major actors in the transfer so that investigation might well reveal allegations of criminal wrongdoing.
I have formally asked RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass to set his men to undertake that investigation. He (to date) will not reply to my formal request. But I believe he will do so when he has considered the request and come to his conclusions about it. Surely….
The basis for my request has been highly-lit and underscored in the last two days (October 19 and 20) of hearing time in courtroom 43 of the B.C. Supreme Court where – before the newly and very strangely appointed judge, Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie - Kevin McCullough for the Defence, has been providing a summary of the Defence position in the case against the three cabinet aides, Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, and Aneal Basi.
Readers should consult the transcript of those two days of trial (which the court will probably try to prevent them from seeing by asking that a bizarre set of costs and protocols be followed to get what came out of an “open court”.) The transcripts will make clear that I am repeating here the substance of Mr. McCullough’s assertions.
It is the Defence position he stated that (a) the election promise not to sell BC Rail was broken and was intended to be broken. The preparation to break the promise and to dump BC Rail (b) involved manipulation, repeatedly leaked information, and , as well, a policy and thrust to sale (before ever “the decision” was made to sell). [In addition, I add, documents I have been able to examine lead me to believe that the policy in place was misrepresented to BC people and the condition of BC Rail was misrepresented as well – as a planned intention.]
Finally, the Defence position, Mr. McCullough said, is that the public auction of BC Rail (to assure the people that the best price and deal could be gained for British Columbia) was “a sham”. Not only that but, he alleges, the government took steps to try to make it appear that a fair public auction of BC Rail was taking place when it was not. He alleges, as I understand his statements, that it was policy at the highest levels to convey that falsehood – to keep another bidder than CN to appear to be in the bidding.
Without saying any more, that opens serious questions. What amounts of public money were devoted to the alleged deception(s)? What is the quality of the apparent violations of fiduciary duty – are they criminal violations? What is the nature of the seeming fraud (pretending one set of actions is being followed when another is in fact being followed)? Is it criminal fraud? What is the nature of the expenditures to maintain that position? Are they criminal expenditures?
I need not go on. Readers will see for themselves even more questions leaping from the statements of Mr. McCullough.
I think they will also see that a request to the RCMP to investigate for malfeasance the major actors in the the so-called “sale” of BC Rail is matter-of-fact, is based upon the utterance of responsible people in court over a long period, and upon thousands of pages of gathered evidentiary materials in the hands of the court and immediately available to examine. The request is straight-forward. The investigation can begin now.