H.O. Blasts Lack of BC Rail Answers

There are lots of questions remaining about the BC Rail scandal…. the biggest being WHY DID THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT PICK UP THE $6 MILLION DEFENCE LAWYERS’ TAB FOR TWO CONVICTED CRIMINALS????

This week I had a chance to keep that question …and story …alive, by appearing on broadcaster Stirling Faux on-line business show This Week in Money.  Here’s the link….turn up your sound:

http://talkdigitalnetwork.com/2011/03/6-million-dollars/

The mainstream media may believe ..and want…this story to go away.  But it will NOT … until we know:

Who recommended to Cabinet the government pick up the criminals’ legal bill?

Who in Cabinet made the motion to pay the $6 million?

Was this part of a deal to get Basi-Virk to take ALL responsbility for criminal actions that also involved others?

Was any other government employee, elected Member of the Legislature , government or Liberal party advisor involved ..or have ANY knowledge of the information/benefits being provided illegally to and through Basi-Virk?

Was $6 million therefore  the cost to shut Basi-Virk up?

These questions can ONLY be answered by an official inquiry, conducted by a judge with subpoena and evidence powers.  And they will NOT go away until the public gets the answers.

Harv Oberfeld

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30 Responses to H.O. Blasts Lack of BC Rail Answers

  1. Mo says:

    Bless you for championing this cause calling for a full public enquiry into the Sale (give-away) of BC Rail and the Legal fees to criminals.
    Along with Tsakumis and Mair you three are the Senior Journalists of BC!

    (Response: Probably because we aren’t just satisfied with news-on-a-platter and then move on? h.o)

  2. Bill Good, on his radio program, is absolutely baffled as to why the BCNDP is so obsessed with this issue.

    If he, a credible talk show host, isn’t too interested, then why should we?

    (Response: Maybe he can answer these questions then, under oath, for all of us? h.o)

  3. Thanks Harvey for keeping this issue alive. I’m totally amazed that BC taxpayers are not storming the legislature over this issue. The BC Rail scandal and soon to be BC Hydro scandal make the BC Fast Ferry fiasco look like pocket change. It’s interesting that while taxpayers complain about higher fees or services being cut, they sometimes forget that these scandals have a lot to do with the financing of our services. I strongly urge all BC residents to demand answers on this issue and others that fall closely under the heading of “corruption”.

    (Response: People are mesmerized by their daily doses of what’s on television these days and a feeling of helplessness when it comes to government.
    The HST revolt finally got people going, but I’m afraid too many fail to see the integrity of government process as a motivating factor …unless those of us who do care keep at it until others realize something stinks. h.o)

  4. D. M. Johnston says:

    While we are at it, I think an official inquiry is needed for the Canada line and the shabby way the Cambie Street merchants were treated.

    The Canada line was supposed to cost $1.3 billion but later escalated past (according to Ms. Heyes) $2.5 billion or to put it in perspective, the Canada line overrun was about 4 fast ferry scandals in cost! Not a peep from the MSN.

    Also, the Canada Line is the only cut-and-cover subway project in North America and Europe that DID NOT HAVE A COMPENSATION PACKAGE FOR MERCHANTS who could prove a loss of business due to construction! Even small tram projects in Europe have compensation packages (example: Nottingham & Croydon)

    BC Rail and the Canada line are hallmarks of the Campbell’s reign – I will do what I want to do and to hell with the lot of you.

    If Clark is to have any credibility she must have an official inquiry and deal honestly with Ms. Heyes and the rest of the Cambie St. merchants.

    Clark must also honestly with the scandal called BC Rail(gate), if not, she will be considered a political coward.

    (Response: No chance she’ll open that can of worms to public scrutiny. h.o)

  5. PG says:

    The government also issued a gag order on Basi and Virk as they answered all questions about the money with a curt, “I refer you to the Attorney General.”

    There are questions that should be raised to the Special Prosecutor who handled this case and allowed the justice system to be held in disrepute.

    More questions and no answers. Just how Christy Clark and the BC Liberals want it.

  6. Hugh says:

    To Sean in Vanc:

    The BC Rail case is about govt lies, coverup, corruption and interference with the justice system.

    If we sit quietly and say nothing about the BC Rail travesty that would mean we approve of what the govt has done, and can expect more of same.

  7. a.j.27 says:

    HEAR,HEAR,h.o.

  8. Ian Fromme-Nelson says:

    All I’m hearing out here in the Kootenays is NO ONE is voting BCLiberal because we need to find out what happened concerning ALL the angles of BC Rail — NOT have it buried.

    Thanks Harv, Rafe and Alex for being so forthright — class acts, all 3 of you!

  9. SharingIsGood says:

    I just listened to the bradcast, Harv. I must say that you took some very complex issues and explained them very clearly.

    Of course, the BC Rail deal and trial is a huge can of worms. There are so many unanswered questions that just could not be asked in the time allotted to that radio broadcast. I have read so much commentary about the BC Rail deal that I can’t remember if you ever commented upon (or raised) the following 3 questions:
    1. if destroying the government’s emails/correspondence was illegal, who would have the audacity to destroy Premier Campbell’s and other Cabinet Minister’s emails related to BC Rail without direction from the top?
    2. Why have we heard nothing about prosecuting people for the destruction of the emails/correspondence?
    3. How could and why should a judge be pushed up the ladder and replaced by another judge in the middle of what seems (to many) to be the largest scandal in the history of BC politics?

    (Response: There are dozens and dozens of questions that could be asked. That’s another reason there should be an inquiry..to get all the answers. h.o)

  10. morry says:

    “Bill Good, on his radio program, is absolutely baffled as to why the BCNDP is so obsessed with this issue”

    Bill Good is baffled by his own shadow.

    First of all the BC NDP really have not being the Vanguard in questioning this issue and in keeping it on the news . Secondly this is _way_ beyound partisanship. This is about corruption and selling of of crown jewels, in a totally underhanded way.

    Is Bill Good comfortable in having BC taxpayers pay for the defence fund of two convicted criminals!

    Is Bill Good serous?

  11. 13 says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens. If the Liberals win the next election I doubt you will ever get all of the details on the sale of BCR. With the advent of the right vote splitting conservative party the chances for the NDP winning are much improved. So assuming an NDP win ( the thought makes me queazy) how successful do you think they will be in getting to the bottom? What will be the final tally on the money spent to get answers? Will politicians go to jail for 10 year old misdeeds? Will the public get the closure that they want or are being told that they want? I try to get angry about the sale of BCR but the best I can do is wonder about Basi and Virk. If only they had to suffer great loss then maybe I would feel better. I knpw the thought of coughing up 6 million dollars to defend a couple of crooked Indo Canadian gov employees makes me sick. After all they only behaved in the maner that is the norm in third world politics.

    (Response: Absolutely right..if the Libs win the next election, there is no way these BC Rail questions will be answered. h.o)

  12. mariner says:

    I think the whole crux of the matter is the corrupt government we have in the BC Liberals – and that includes all of the standing BC Liberals MLAs.

    The whole motly collection have absolutely no credibility, integrity, are dishonest and cannot be trusted – and issue forth constant lies and misinformation.

    All governments to some degree, practice some of the above – but none to my knowledge, have been so arrogant and irresponsible in their ways as the BC Liberal party have been.

    Gotta say it – they lied to get elected and have lied constantly since. They just plain cannot be trusted.

    I am sure if everything that Campbell looked at or meddled with, was examined properly, we would have public enquiries – one after another.

    Criminal prosecution should be directed at the leaders of the BC Liberal government – by whoever replaces them. Laws can be changed to cover all aspects and can be made retroactive if necessary.

    Time to prosecute and jail the likes of Gordon Campbell, Christy Clark and other involved – and throw away the keys to their cells!!!.

  13. DonGar says:

    Great to see you are helping to keep this alive as the MSM and Libs want to bury it
    Alex also had a session on talk digital to discuss issue after he was stopped from appearing on CKNW.

    http://talkdigitalnetwork.com/2011/03/chance-public-inquiry/

  14. Genuine says:

    Bill good is seriously awe full.

  15. Norm Farrell says:

    “Bill Good, on his radio program, is absolutely baffled as to why the BCNDP is so obsessed with this issue”

    Bill Good is mistaken thinking only the BCNDP is asking question about why these defendants were paid millions and given slap-on-the-wrist punishment. Compare the Basi/Virk treatment to other cases of fraud against PUBLIC trust. Recently a 37 year old Victoria woman received THREE years in custody for defrauding family members of $350,000. She plead guilty and her family asked for clemency. This was a far less egregious case with no monetary loss through crime to the public yet she was dealt with harshly by comparison and had to pay her own lawyers.

    If Bill Good and others can’t see the problem, they are willfully blind.

    More about the Victoria case here:

    http://northerninsights.blogspot.com/2011/01/and-justice-for-all.html

  16. Warren White says:

    Thanks, Harvey, for keeping the BC Rail Scandal in front of the public. Palmer, Good, Baldrey, et al seem to have been bought off. How can they look themselves in the mirror every morning?

    Each and every citizen of this province needs to know how their Crown assets such as BC Rail, BC Hydro, and more, have been and are being sold off and given away by the Liberal government in the name of “free enterprise” only to line the pockets of Liberal’s corporate friends.

    The sleaze that this government has come to symbolize needs to be exposed for all to see.

  17. BC Mary says:

    BC Rail was the template for every other act of treachery since 2001 … and it makes sense to concentrate upon opening up those early secrets.

    I looked up “Bid-rigging” once in the Criminal Code of Canada. It’s a crime, all right. And CPR even denounced the bid-rigging — in writing — when they withdrew from the auction. So why haven’t criminal charges been laid,I wonder.

    Nevertheless, I feel more hopeful about BC’s future, after reading the thoughtful comments here, including H.O.’s.

    The BC Rail affair definitely isn’t over until the people say it’s over. And it’s good to hear the people calling instead for a thorough public inquiry into all aspects of that 990-year lease.

  18. StandUpforBC says:

    Harvey, you make a most crucial point that bears repeating… everywhere and often:

    “…I’m afraid too many fail to see the integrity of government process as a motivating factor …unless those of us who do care keep at it until others realize something stinks. h.o)”

    (Response: Governments can make mistakes or wrong decisions or favour some groups to the detriment of others … but none of that is as critical to our democracy as having an honest, legal, ethical and transparent process for making decisions. The failure of that and the resulting loss of public trust puts our entire system in jeopardy. h.o)

  19. Crankypants says:

    As I see it, first Gordon Campbell and now Christy Clark have been all too do their best to sidestep anything related to the BC Rail sale/lease. We have been treated to enticing bits and pieces of information that always seem to lead to more questions rather than supply any illuminating answers.

    The suspicious circumstances with which the Basi-Virk-Basi trial, if it can be called a bonafide trial, ended have to be considered the final straw. The BC Liberals can bob and weave to their hearts content. There will be no closure on this file until such time as there is a full public enquiry into this whole smarmy mess.

  20. Keith says:

    Ayup Harvey,

    echoing most comments and at the risk of sounding repetetive, thankyou so much for keeping this issue front and centre along with other like minded folks that want honesty and ethics from our public officials.

    # 13 mentioned ” After all they only behaved in the maner that is the norm in third world politics”

    Given what we have experienced for the last 10 years with political favours, payoffs, baffled talk show hosts and a waste of space local press spouting reverse Robin Hood economics, how can we tell the difference.?

    I don’t care who I vote for as long as they promise to hold a full open inquiry, in a timely manner with legal consequences, not the typical flaky excercise that costs millions, makes a lot of noise and activity but in the end does nothing.

    (Response: Maybe that’s why the MSM are not really pressing for an inquiry into WHY the $6 million payoff was done: there is only one party that I know of promising to get to the bottom of it…and it’s not one the MSM owners editorially support. h.o)

  21. D says:

    Is this blog on facebook and or twitter?

    (Response: No …just a hobby for me. I worry if it gets too popular..with loads of feedback, won’t be fun anymore. But will think about it. h.o)

  22. Blaffergassted says:

    I will note that the NDP is no longer talking about reviewing the sale of BC Rail, and if they are complaining about the $6 million payout to convicted criminals, the mainstream media is being strangely silent about the issue.

    Remember, the money went directly to the lawyers … not to Basi and Virk.

    The admitted guilty parties may have been spared bankruptcy … but they haven’t “made any money” on this.

    There’s another story here.
    Follow the money, not the shenanigans.

    (Response: I don’t care who actually received the cheques: the important point is that BC taxpayers were forced to pay the defence legal bills of TWO people who admitted to have committed criminal acts. WHY????? If you or I get charged with income tax evasion and plead GUILTY after dragging it on for five years, will the government pick up OUR legal bills? Of course not. And I put it to everyone that Basi-Virk did more harm to the integrity of the governmental process than anyone evading income tax. h.o)

  23. Norm Farrell says:

    Blaffergassted would be a good BC Liberal because of his/her skill at terminological inexactitude.

    NDP have policy a demand for a full and independent inquiry of the BC Rail sale. No change on that but one of the leadership candidates admitted probably the business deal can not be unwound after all this time, even if it was fraudulent. That does not mean those who participated in fraud should not be exposed and damages pursued.

    “if they are complaining about the $6 million payout to convicted criminals, the mainstream media is being strangely silent about the issue. Remember, the money went directly to the lawyers … not to Basi and Virk.”

    The money was paid to lawyers on behalf of the defendants. No public accounting for that money has been given. We don’t know if it was entirely for legal fees or, if it included disbursements, the costs being covered. Did any cash flow to Basi or Virk or for their expenses, such as taxes on the property mortgaged to the province securing repayment of the province’s advances to the lawyers.

    Remember last year the BC government took tough legal action against hundreds of welfare recipients who had been overpaid by government error. BTW, both Dave Basi and his wife both had signed a mortgage in favor of the government to the province for this debt. That mortgage, against real estate worth about $1 million was forgiven. Why?

  24. Skookum1 says:

    Harvey, I beg to differ, that’s not the most important question re the BC Rail scandal.

    The biggest is “with all the evidence directly showing that the sale of BC Rail was a tainted bidding process, unpalatable to some bidders and with clear evidence of conspiracy by political-party donors and insiders – why has this sale not been cancelled and why has there been no investigation into the corruption of the bidding process?”

    And I don’t mean the OmniTRAX sideshow that got to court, I mean the favouritism showed towards CN and the roles of types such as Kinsella and Kenning in willingly cooperating and abetting this demonstrably illegal process.

    The next biggest question, which somebody should be asking the federal Tories during this campaign, is why did the feds cooperate with the tampering with the bench in the highest -profile political scandal case in British Columbia ever, eclipsing nearly any federal scandal in its sordidness. Mackenzie was appointed to the case, after Dohm’s mysterious and unprecedented intervention, and the progress of the case thus far demonstrably derailed and, ahem, railroaded.

    As for Basi and Virk, my position is that they were paid out because their defence was the truth, they were acting under orders and as a part of a general culture of corruption which affected the whole sale; they were paid out because, according to that argument and if the case had been allowed to proceed to its proper conclusion (and all milllion pages of dcouments made public, and the lurid details of the political lives of a good four dozen people also “tested and proven in court”, they were actually innocent in technical terms, and thus the payout was fair. But we know it was also an attempt to muzzle them, as is the attempt to recall all evicdence for it to be destroyed.

    This is way bigger than $6 million in hush money. This is about a billion-dollar railway given (“leased”) to political insiders acting on behalf of their American backers and patrons. This is about court tampering and federal meddling. This is about a political conspiracy to apprehend and abuse of the power of the Crown to rob the Crown and literally give away its powers and its assets to foriegn control. Free Trade Agreement bedamned, nothing like this was supposed to happen……

    This is about the total corruption and buyout of our government and our province.

    This isn’t about a mere $6 million in hush money meant to shut down a case that was only meant to be a sideshow but nearly lit the whole immoral edifice on fire. Arguing about where that money came from is pointless; what is worth a whole lot more money is getting the railway back – not by renationalization, but by criminal and civil proceedings.

    Bitchin about Basi and Virk being criminals and getting public money when the much bigger criminals are walking away with orders of magnitude more in money and power is…..a bit ridiculous.

    (Response: I don’t think it was ever proven they were taking orders ffrom above as you state…and there a lot more accusations in your comment than have actually been found to be true and ruled on in court. But they are good questiions that deserve answer. That’s why we need the public inquiry …so much was at stake and so much public money was spent, perhaps in conjunction with other illegal actions . h.o)

  25. Lew says:

    “That mortgage, against real estate worth about $1 million was forgiven. Why?”

    Norm Farrell has asked the question I’ve been asking for some time now, but in addition to asking WHY, I want to know HOW.

    The government line is that no cabinet minister was involved in any way in cooking this deal. Therefore, there was no authority from Treasury Board to do this deal, and NOBODY has delegated authority to spend $6 million without it. They say that the deputy finance minister used his authority to discharge contingent liabilities to pay the lawyers. In order for him to do that, the $6 million liability for the defendants’ legal fees had to transfer to the Crown. Who had the delegated authority to take on a $6 million liability on behalf of the Crown without Treasury Board approval? And how the hell can seven years of legal bills be a contingent liability?

    The mortgage that was forgiven was in the range of $1 million. NOBODY has authority to write off a debt to the Crown for any amount over $50K without Treasury Board approval. So how did this happen?

    And what about the actual deal with Basi and Virk? That is a contract. A promise to give something ($6 million and unless we see the contract, who knows what else) in exhange for a guilty plea and a vow of silence). NOBODY has delegated signing authority to bind the Crown in a $6 million contract without Treasury Board approval. Who signed the contract?

    I’ve asked these questions of the Auditor General but so far have received no response. Let’s keep asking.

    (Response: Geez! More good questions! What we all need clearly are answers. h.o)

  26. kootcoot says:

    There are lots of questions remaining about the BC Rail scandal…. the biggest being WHY DID THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT PICK UP THE $6 MILLION DEFENCE LAWYERS’ TAB FOR TWO CONVICTED CRIMINALS???

    Sorry Harv, but you are buying into the BC liaR spin here yourself – IT IS NOT THE BIGGEST ISSUE. It is an important issue, but MORE important is the deal itself that the six million was deployed to keep secret.

    I will admit that it would be a good start, because once we start to find WHY it was worth six mil to shut up the scapegoats, we might start to see the real crimes that have been business as usual for the BC Liberal Government.

    (Response: In the overall picture of things, you could be right: the $6 million to ocver the legal costs of admitted criminals may not be the biggest question that should be answered. But it sure spurs my interest more than the rest of it: maybe because the rest of it involves political shenanigans so many of us have come to expect from all political parties once they achieve government. h.o)

  27. Norm Farrell says:

    Excellent conversation here. H.O. allows questions to be asked that the big city dailies refuse to pose. However, we are coming to expect shoddy corporate journalism as routine, except for the online contributors.

    (Response: This is one of the strengths of the intelligent part of the blogosphere … including your blog … they allow the public to almost instantly join in discussions and raise questions and issues on all kinds of important topics. And keep them in the publice eye long after the MSM have lost interest. h.o)

  28. Blaffergassted says:

    Thanks for the clarifications, Norm.

    The whole BC Rail debacle has been one of subterfuge and deflection, and it’s good to know that others have been following it much more closely, and with a much sharper legal mind, than myself.

  29. John's Aghast says:

    Skookum1’s assertations may not have been proven in court, but dollars to do-nuts they would have been if this had been allowed to proceed to its final conclusion. THERE SHOULD BE NO DOUBT IN ANYONE’S MIND THAT THIS WAS THE MOST EGRIGIOUS, CORRUPT PIECE OF WORK PERPETRATED ON THE CITIZENS OF BC IN HISTORY!! That being said,
    1) How did these two scallywags exist without an income, for seven years?
    2) How are these two existing now?
    3) When and how much do their government pensions take effect?
    4) Were they taxed on the $6million ’employee benefit’ that they received?
    As mentioned by others, the $6 million benefit pales in comparison to the other questions that need to be answered.

  30. Brian says:

    Lets roll out the voter lists and let the ppeole that voted for these mongrels pay the costs associated with this trial!Lemmings! BLIND LEMMINGS!!!(and lots of them!!!)

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