Vive Le Canada

Will B.C. Rail Bomb Explode?
Date: Tuesday, March 06 2007

Will BC Rail Bomb Explode?
Basi-Virk lawyers allege deal was rigged by BC Libs.

By Bill Tieleman
Published: March 6, 2007

"They've been calling for this deal to be cancelled since before it started, so it doesn't surprise me much. [But] there has been nothing that's come to our attention or to the attention of investigators that would lead anybody to believe that there was any concern about the CN transaction at all." -- B.C. Finance Minister Gary Collins, March 13, 2004

The $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail will be the explosive core of the upcoming April 2 trial of former provincial B.C. Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk on fraud and breach of trust charges.

That's what lawyers for the defence are alleging in a lengthy application for disclosure filed Feb. 27 in B.C. Supreme Court, saying the B.C. Rail deal is the key to the entire case -- and to their exoneration.

The defence dropped bombshell allegations that Premier Gordon Campbell's B.C. Liberal government had already delivered the deal to CN Rail before final bids were even considered and that Basi and Virk were only following Collins's orders to deliver a $70 to $100 million "consolation prize" to losing bidder OmniTRAX -- the B.C. Rail-owned Roberts Bank spur line.

But those are far from the only shocking allegations in the defence document.

And given that the defence has served notice it seeks a stay of proceedings against Basi, Virk and Basi "on the basis of an undermining of the accused's right to a fair trial," it may turn out that the claims made are never introduced as evidence because the trial never happens.

Alternatively, presiding Justice Elizabeth Bennett may grant some or all of the defence's long list of requests for disclosure of evidence against their clients, evidence that could prove very damaging to the provincial government and the federal and provincial Liberal parties.

Fair trial jeopardized?

The allegations in the 32-page application filed by the defence prior to the trial -- to which the Crown will file a reply on March 14 -- come more than three years after the Dec. 28, 2003 police raid on the B.C. legislature. The allegations, it should be reminded, have not been proven in court.

At the heart of the defence case is a serious contention -- that the police and Crown have so screwed up their prosecution of the accused that a fair trial is impossible.

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on March 7, 2007]

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