Saturday, February 26, 2011



BC Premier-Elect Christy Clark
Christy Clark has pulled off a stunning 3rd ballot victory over Kevin Falcon to become BC's Premier-Elect - and the BC Liberal Party is now split down the middle.

Clark had just one MLA backing her - all others supported Falcon or third place finisher George Abbott.

The final ballot had Clark with 52% against Falcon's 48% - 4420 vs 4080 - a razor thin margin.

Watch the BC Conservative Party closely in the days ahead - and the federal Conservatives, who were mortified at the thought of Clark winning with her deep federal Liberal Party roots and after her constant drubbing of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on her CKNW AM 980 radio show.

This is a fascinating result that will determine BC's political history for years to come - and the story is only just unfolding as we watch tonight.

At least three other winners tonight - MLA Harry Bloy - or should I say Deputy Premier-elect Bloy? As Clark's only MLA supporter, he done good.

Another winner - CKNW's Michael Smyth - he just got himself a more permanent job as the afternoon talk radio host!

Perhaps the biggest winner?  Perpetual backroom party operative and lobbyist Patrick Kinsella!  Pat is back in charge, as he was under Premier Gordon Campbell, as he was as chair or co-chair of the 2001 and 2005 BC Liberal election campaigns.

Losers?  Too many to mention!

But the BC New Democrats are not among them.  They know the cat is now among the pigeons and if they play their cards right, a provincial election victory is entirely possible.


The snowy weather has forced me to cancel plans to attend the BC Liberal leadership vote gathering - it's NOT a Convention - but I am live blogging with Public Eye Online's Sean Holman - who is on the scene at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Check it out for full coverage.

Will "Hanging" Chad Pederson determine BC Liberal leadership? OR "Bring me the head of Kelly Reichert!"

"No PIN?  Get the hell out!" Friendly BC Liberal Party staffer at undisclosed Vancouver office tells Global TV's John Daly and camera operator to please turn off camera and leave on Friday

"Hanging" Chad Pederson - BC Liberal Party Executive Director - since December, replacing Kelly Reichert
The BC Liberal Party leadership contest has descended into chaos as thousands of members have not received their Personal Identity Number or PIN that is required in order to vote for George Abbott, Christy Clark, Mike de Jong or Kevin Falcon.

"This is not good," Abbott said on Global TV news Friday. "We don't have a clear sense of how many people might potentially be affected by this PIN number situation."

Falcon is also worried, telling the Vancouver Sun on Thursday evening that: "We’re not getting a real strong sense this is something that is under control entirely at the party. A day before the vote, this is a serious concern.”

So one good question is - why did 15-year BC Liberal Party Executive Director Kelly Reichert suddenly resign December 11 and leave the most important event since Gordon Campbell's leadership takeover in 1993 in the hands of new Executive Director Chad Pederson?

Wouldn't good sense tell anyone - especially BC Liberal Party board members - that Reichert was desperately needed at the helm for just two more months to make sure the critical leadership contest was run smoothly and without controversy?

While Reichert's term was marked with controversy - especially allegations in pre-trial hearings for David Basi and Bob Virk that Reichert hired Basi for political dirty tricks for $20,000 outside his job as ministerial assistant to then-Finance Minister Gary Collins - surely a couple more months work wouldn't have made a big difference.

Reichert is also known for being the brother-in-law of top Basi-Virk RCMP investigator Inspector Kevin deBruyckere - who disclosed the relationship to his superiors but continued on throughout the more than 6 year investigation and trial, which ended with surprise guilty pleas just before Collins was to testify.

Chad Pederson is no doubt a fine fellow who has been dealt an extremely difficult hand of cards - but he can't be held to blame for the mess that has embarrassed the BC Liberals.

Perhaps BC Liberal Party President Mickey Patryluk would like to explain how and why Reichert was made to disappear like a magic trick just before the leadership rabbit was pulled out of the hat.

And perhaps, while she is at it, Patryluk could explain why the BC Liberal Party has left Kash Heed to go to BC Supreme Court to attempt to get out of his Election Act obligations for appropriate financial reporting rather than the Party intervening some time ago to straighten out the books after Heed's campaign manager Barinder Sall was charged with criminal and Election Act charges over an unauthorized and unreported attack leaflet on NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu.

And why can't we find any photos of Kelly Reichert online anywhere?

Inquiring minds want to know!.

UPDATE: A reader sends this URL with a probable Reichert sighting online:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Puzzling the pundits - can anyone predict who will be the next BC Liberal Premier? A survey of prognosticators

Premier Gordon Campbell celebrates escaping the wreckage of the BC Liberal leadership race, background
The BC Liberal leadership vote scheduled for Saturday February 26 is probably the most puzzling and perilous ever for pundits and prognosticators to predict.

If it even happens Saturday that is - as the PIN-GATE problem means thousands of BC Liberal members new and old may be disenfranchised because they haven't yet received their voting Personal Idenitification Number by mail! 

BC Liberal Party officials and leadership campaigns for contenders Christy Clark, Kevin Falcon, George Abbott and Mike de Jong are frantically meeting now to try to resolve the problem so the vote can proceed, possibly with extended hours or even days to complete.

And breaking news from the Globe and Mail - the vote will proceed Saturday!  But Intelivote Systems Inc., the Nova-Scotia-based electronic voting system company, still can't explain why PIN numbers mailed in Ottawa last Wednesday or Thursday had not yet arrived.

But for those of us in the political prediction business this is a total nightmare of complexity:  polling from both outside and campaign sources shows Christy Clark with the lead - even her competitors privately acknowledge that.

But the regional weighted vote adopted earlier this month at a special convention changes the game dramatically. 

5,000 members in a Surrey riding have the same 100 points as a 500 member riding in northern BC - and with 85 BC ridings, their are 8,500 points up for grab.  The winner needs 4,251 or more.

So, what are the prognosticators saying?

My good friend and veteran political handicapper Will McMartin in The Tyee goes where pundit angels fear to tread - almost - with this prediction:

"The second-round results, then: Falcon, 2,975; Clark, 2,825; and Abbott, 2,700. Incredibly, fewer than 300 votes could separate the top three candidates, and the one with the fewest will be dropped before the third and final tally.....Our choice(s) for the winner on Saturday, and next premier of British Columbia: either Kevin Falcon or George Abbott."

Hmmmm - McMartin previously fearlessly gave Abbott the best odds a few weeks back.

Bernard von Schulmann of The BC Iconoclast is a renewed BC Liberal member with lots of varied political experience.

Von Schulmann bravely goes further than McMartin - predicting a Kevin Falcon victory on Ballot 3:

"Third Count

Kevin Falcon - 4700
Christy Clark - 3800"

Global TV's veteran Victoria bureau chief Keith Baldrey has covered many a leadership race - he and I still fondly remember the incredible free food and drinks at the 1983 Conservative Party leadership battle where Brian Mulroney deposed Joe Clark in Ottawa.

Baldrey leans towards Clark but then hedges his bets in a Surrey Now column this week:

"Can Christy Clark be stopped from winning the B.C. Liberal party leadership? ....Clark can be tracking high in the polls, but if her team does not identify their supporters and get them to vote in sufficient numbers, the stage will be set for Abbott or Falcon to leapfrog her on the third count.

But I'm not betting against her (or on her either; the second-choice element makes things too unpredictable)."

Sacha Peter over at BC Election 2013 gives Kevin Falcon the win over Christy Clark, by 53% to 47%.

As for myself, this is one of the toughest challenges I've faced to predict.

I've had a hard time all along seeing how Christy Clark could win with just one lonely MLA from the caucus supporting her - Harry Bloy - but the polling numbers and fear in the other camps certainly has me second guessing that.  Clark's enormous federal Liberal Party connections - which she has lamely tried to deny or hide - could split the classic BC Liberal - and prior to that Social Credit - "free enterprise" or right wing alliance of federal Conservatives and federal Liberals by creating way too much Grit imbalance.

Already red-meat Tories like John Reynolds and others are warning that a Clark victory would lead to a provincial BC Conservative Party revival that would split the right's voters and let the NDP win the next election.  No one should underestimate how much animosity Clark's bashing of the Stephen Harper Conservative federal government on her CKNW show over that past few years has alienated that side of the family.

Kevin Falcon should be the overwhelming favourite if you look at the combination of his successes - majority of cabinet members supporting him plus lots of MLAs, the most money, the most business community support by a wide margin, the party establishment backing - it should translate into a no-brainer win.

But Falcon's negative polling numbers indicate a basic truth - he is an unrepentant, hard-edged right-winger who makes many voters uncomfortable.  And since winning elections is what this is about, Falcon has a problem.  And he is the Conservative "ying" to Clark's Liberal "yang" - the federal Liberal side has problems with Falcon's clear connections to the Harper government and its players in BC.

George Abbott could be the beneficiary of both Clark's and Falcon's problems - or he could be  left in the dust. Abbott has the advantage of the regional weighted vote and being a compromise without the strong federal Tory or Grit ties, plus being a much friendlier face to government than Gordon Campbell has been.  Is that enough?  Hard to say.

Then there's turnout.  There are over 90,000 members but it's doubtful anywhere near all of them will vote - but will the turnout be 60%?  40%? 

And will the 30,000 or so members who were in good standing prior to Campbell's resignation vote at a much higher percentage than the newbies signed up by the four camps?  Probably so.

Will dubious PIN Parties carry the day, where PIN numbers and names are given to the campaign so there is a 100% turnout of some mass or block signups?  It allegedly helped Gordon Campbell himself triumph over then-leader Gordon Wilson and challenger Gordon Gibson in 1993 - the last BC Liberal contest.

The company running the vote says it could restrict the number of votes coming from one computer or telephone number - but the BC Liberals have given no such instructions.  [The same issue will dog the NDP later during their vote.]

So, if you put the proverbial gun to my head and force me to predict, I'm going to narrow it down to Falcon or Abbott with errr, ummm, uhhhh - the new premier being....Kevin Falcon. 

But whatever you do, don't make any bets - there are three absolutely possible winners and I'm keeping my own political betting money in my pocket.

It will be a fascinating vote, whenever it takes place!

Stay tuned for more updates - and give me your predictions too!


My friend Stacey Robinsmith at makes his choice - and says George Abbott will come up the middle.  Plausible enough to me - we'll see later tonight..

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Christy Clark telephone interviewer says he was fired for complaining about low wage paid - $1.25 less than Ontario minimum wage - despite Clark promise to increase BC minimum pay

Ex-Christy Clark telephone interviewer Rich MacMillan - 24 hours photo

Christy Clark contractor Dimitri Pantazopoulous & Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Christy Clark campaign telephone worker says he was fired for complaining about low wages while Clark promises higher minimum wage;  "Families First" slogan now rings hollow, worker says, but employer rejects allegations

EXCLUSIVE - Thursday February 24, 2011

By BILL TIELEMAN, QMI AGENCY/24 hours Vancouver

A telephone interviewer for the Christy Clark B.C. Liberal leadership campaign says he was fired immediately after complaining about the low wages being paid.

And the fired phoner is angry that despite Clark calling for increased B.C. minimum wages, his $9.00 an hour salary was lower than the $10.25 minimum wage in Ontario, where the firm who hired him to call for Clark is based.

Rich MacMillan told 24 hours in an exclusive interview that he questioned the $9.00 an hour pay at a meeting with other interviewers and a supervisor for Clark campaign contractor Praxicus Public Strategies and was terminated the next day by email.

MacMillan said the supervisor told phoners that workplace changes were coming because “Dimitri our boss needs to feed his family” – referring to Ottawa-based Praxicus owner Dimitri Pantazopoulos, who hired MacMillan by email in December.

“Yeah, is Dimitri trying to feed them on $9 an hour?” MacMillan asked the supervisor in response.

But in an email, Pantazopoulos strongly rejects MacMillan’s claims.

“Nobody has been terminated from this office for reasons related to disputes related to salary levels,” Pantazopoulos wrote, adding that: “All decisions related to staffing are at the SOLE discretion of Praxicus and not the Christy Clark Campaign."

Clark’s campaign declined an interview despite email and telephone requests.

MacMillan said he worked four weeks without any complaints on the Clark campaign phoning B.C. Liberal members and lapsed members to gain supporters before the sudden firing and had been told he would work through to the February 26 leadership vote.

MacMillan said he would have been paid $1.25 an hour more if he was working in Ontario, where the minimum wage is $10.25 an hour. B.C.’s minimum wage is $8 an hour and has not gone up in 10 years.

“The fact is that it’s a $1.25 difference and we’ve got someone [Clark] saying ‘Families First’ – that’s disingenuous,” MacMillan said. “I feel the wool is being pulled over our eyes.”

Clark has also vowed to scrap the lower $6 training wage for inexperienced workers but no one hired by Praxicus is being paid that rate, Pantazopoulos wrote, “including in situations where the training wage could be paid.”

B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair said Clark is “hypocritical” for not practicing what she preaches.

“It’s hypocrisy for Christy Clark to say ‘we’re going to raise the minimum wage then turning around and paying her own workers only $9 an hour,” Sinclair said Wednesday. “B.C. has become the cheap labour zone for all of Canada, with the lowest minimum wage.

MacMillan said Clark’s claim to be a B.C. Liberal Party “outsider” calling for a “Families First” policy now rings hollow to him.

“Clark had a chance to press for a minimum wage increase in cabinet and she didn’t,” MacMillan says, referring to Clark’s years in government between 2001 and 2004 as deputy premier, education minister and minister of children and family development.

Pantazopolous has been a pollster for the federal Conservative Party and its predecessors the Canadian Alliance and Reform Party, as well as other political campaigns.

MacMillan said he met both Pantazopolous and Clark campaign manager Mike McDonald in the Seymour Street phone room.

MacMillan says McDonald told him that comments from B.C. Liberal members they were phoning were going to Clark or other senior campaign officials.

Pantazopolous said by email that: “Mike McDonald has not been involved in any way, shape or form in any hiring or firing decisions.”

But on the main issue, MacMillan has no doubt he was fired solely because of the $9.00 wage complaint.

“That’s exactly why – I had received some positive feedback and was previously told I wouldn’t be laid off or given a short shift,” he said. “I hadn’t gotten any written warnings or whatever. I thought I’d be working through February.”

MacMillan said he got the job in late December through an online Kijiji help wanted ad and was working with over 50 other interviewers.

A shorter version of this story was published in 24 hours Vancouver on Thursday.


Fight HST to hold rally outside BC Liberal leadership vote gathering on Saturday February 26 calling for HST elimination

Crowd of 5,000 protest the HST in Vancouver, September 19, 2009
Fight HST, the grassroots group formed to get rid of the Harmonized Sales Tax, will hold a rally Saturday afternoon outside the BC Liberal leadership vote gathering at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Saturday February 26 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

The full media advisory is below:

* * * *

Fight HST Rally

February 24, 2011– Vancouver

Fight HST, the group that lead the successful Initiative petition to repeal the HST will hold a rally this Saturday adjacent to the BC Liberal Leadership Convention to let the Candidates for premier know that the people of BC want an end to the HST.

Date: Saturday, February 26, 2011

Time: 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Location: Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre – West Building

Meet by Olympic Cauldron – Jack Poole Plaza

For more information go to:


BASI-VIRK: Was there a BC Liberal cabinet leak on $1 billion sale of BC Rail? Newly released evidence shows Gary Collins stunned by lobbyists' info in 2004 police interview

Christy Clark - her campaign declined comment

Gary Collins & Gordon Campbell
Railgate: Was There a Cabinet Leak to Lobbyists?

Ex-Finance Minister Gary Collins told police he was surprised at 'blow by blow' description of cabinet meeting in lobbyists' memo to bidder for BC Rail.

By Bill Tieleman 

TheTyee  February 24, 2011

"But, I mean, this is, it reads to me like someone who's more sitting there observing, right?"

- Former B.C. finance minister Gary Collins describing a lobbyists' briefing note about a cabinet meeting to police, Nov. 3, 2004.

How did lobbyists for one of two bidders in the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail come to know the inner discussions of a BC Liberal cabinet meeting about the sale?

Was there a cabinet leak?

That's one of the most intriguing questions arising from new police evidence from the B.C. Legislature Raid case released by the courts late last week, including two lengthy interviews with then B.C. finance minister Gary Collins.

Collins strongly suggests to police in 2004 that those lobbyists had a "sort of blow by blow of the cabinet meeting."

Collins' former ministerial assistant, David Basi, pled guilty to breach of trust and fraud for admitting he was paid cash and benefits for giving lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran confidential BC Rail documents.

Bob Virk, former ministerial assistant to then transportation minister Judith Reid, also pled guilty.

Basi and Virk were sentenced to two years house arrest but in a controversial decision, the B.C. government agreed to pay their $6 million legal fees in the lengthy case.

Media reporting to date has focused on two themes -- that police found no wrongdoing on the part of elected BC Liberal MLAs and that Basi engaged in a series of obscenity-laced wiretapped conversations about colleagues, lobbyists and others, including references to the sexual exploits of one contact.

Only media accredited by B.C. Supreme Court can access the more than 1,000 pages of police reports, wiretap transcripts, interview and other material RCMP used to build their case, under an order issued by presiding trial judge Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie.

And that material is but a proverbial drop in the bucket of more than one million pages of evidence disclosed by the special prosecutor, representing the Crown, to the defence.

But what has so far gone unreported goes to the heart of the defence's argument that some of the confidential information obtained by Bornmann, Kieran and business partner Jamie Elmhirst -- who jointly owned Pilothouse Public Affairs -- could not have come from Basi or Virk.

Central to that theory is the evidence given by Collins in police interviews after the unprecedented Dec. 28, 2003 raid on the B.C. legislature in which dozens of boxes of material from Basi and Virk's offices were seized.

'I have always discharged my duties honourably': Clark

Last week's disclosure of selected evidence was the result of negotiations between police and the Crown with CTV news and the Globe and Mail newspaper, which made a court application for the prosecution's documents.

The Globe headline on Feb. 17 stated that: "Corruption probe exonerates Clark in BC Rail scandal."

That headline reflected what the RCMP had made already made clear -- namely that Clark and other elected officials had not been under investigation.

The RCMP told the media and public one day after the B.C. legislature raid took place December 28, 2003 that "no elected officials" were under investigation.

Eight years later the Globe reported that: "An exhaustive police investigation into political corruption surrounding the sale of BC Rail found no evidence of wrongdoing by former BC Liberal cabinet minister Christy Clark or any other elected official."

CTV took a similar tack, saying that Clark had been "cleared" and quoted her as saying:

"All along, this has been something that people with a political agenda have been trying to drag me into. Those people have a political agenda; they're not speaking about reality when they throw all this mud."

Neither Collins nor Clark was ever charged with anything. Clark was not even interviewed by the RCMP at the time.

Not surprisingly, Clark concurred with the Globe's conclusion.

"Two people have been convicted of accepting bribes who worked for the government. I mean, that's unacceptable," Clark told the Globe. "From a personal perspective it confirms what I've been saying from the beginning. I have a spotlessly clean public record, I have always discharged my duties honourably."

No need for public inquiry: Clark

By journalists, however, Clark has been questioned repeatedly about her role in the sale of BC Rail and her connections to some of the key players in it.

But she has steadfastly rejected calls for a public inquiry, as have fellow leadership candidates Kevin Falcon, George Abbott and Mike de Jong -- who were also cabinet ministers when BC Rail was sold in a BC Liberal broken election promise.

And a Christy Clark campaign spokesperson declined email and telephone requests for an interview with The Tyee for this article.

However, what was disclosed to the Globe and CTV, and subsequently all court-accredited media [of which I am one] but not the public or other journalists, is the police and prosecution side only, not that of the defence.

And perhaps most importantly, none of the evidence from either side was tested in a court under full cross examination and testimony from witnesses because of the premature end of the trial.

If there was a leaker, who?

There are tantalizing clues from both the pre-trial hearings and the newly-released evidence though that raise more questions than provide answers.

For example, on June 4, 2009 in pre-trial hearings, Basi's veteran lawyer Michael Bolton alleged that it seemed possible Bornmann and Kieran's Pilothouse Public Affairs had a cabinet source feeding them information.

And Bolton alleged in court that source may have been Christy Clark.

"Pilothouse internal briefing notes appear to reveal sources in cabinet," Bolton told Justice Elizabeth Bennett, then presiding over the case, referring to Bornmann's lobbying firm. "Bornmann clearly had certain cabinet sources."

"For example, Christy Clark may have been the source within cabinet -- certainly Mr. Bornmann was in contact with Ms. Clark," Bolton said.

Clark also declined to comment on the allegations when contacted at that time, and of course the allegations remain completely unproven. Certainly they were never raised in the actual trial -- because Basi and Virk's surprise guilty pleas ended it after only two witnesses testified, Martyn Brown, Gordon Campbell's former chief of staff and Brian Kenning, a director of BC Rail's board at the time of the sale.

But the newly-released evidence also includes two lengthy police interviews with Gary Collins, in one of which he also appears to suggest someone present at a cabinet meeting about BC Rail may have provided information to Pilothouse.

In the Nov. 3, 2004 interview with several RCMP investigators, including then inspector Kevin deBruyckere -- brother-in-law to then BC Liberal party executive director Kelly Reichert, Collins discusses a document police presented to him -- a seized Pilothouse briefing note to OmniTRAX.

What is stunning is that Collins clearly indicates the briefing note contains a highly detailed report on exact cabinet discussions -- who said what. Collins told the RCMP he couldn't see how either Basi or Virk would have known it.

And there are no records made public to date that show either Basi or Virk attending that or any other cabinet meeting.

The RCMP-Collins transcript

The following are relevant excerpts from that 67-page police interview with Collins.

Sergeant Ian Lawson: "This is a Pilothouse briefing note dated June the 24th 2003 prepared for Gary RENNICK and Fraser McKAY." [OmniTRAX employees]...This briefing note was provided to us by OmniTRAX....

DeBruyckere: "Y'know, the date again now would be after.

Gary Collins: "Yeah, there are..."

Lawson: "May 15."

Collins: "Right. So we have, this is um, okay. I don't, I'm just, I find curious, I mean, the sort of blow by blow of the cabinet meeting I'm trying to remember who would have been in the room.

"I mean, generally s', I mean, certainly um, there would have been Chris TRUMPY, Yvette WELLS, [NOTE: Trumpy was a Deputy Minister of Finance, Wells was a senior bureaucrat who was secretary to the evaluation committee on the B.C. Rail sale] maybe some other people. Um, I don't know who from transportation would've been there. I don't know if cabinet keeps minutes of that, they might know who was in the room at the time but...."

Lawson: "Draw your attention there's a descriptor of uh, we think, referring to the Minister of Transportation at the time-'' [Judith Reid]

Collins: "Mm-hm."

Lawson: "-responded weakly."

Collins: "Mm-hm."

Lawson: "It's a...

Collins: "I don't know who would know that, that's the thing, right? I mean, we don't have a lot of people in the room when cabinet discusses this kind of stuff, right? So, I mean Chris would've been there. Yvette WELLS would've been there that I'm, I'm sure they would have been there.

"Whether rail guys were there or not I don't recall. They might have been. Chris could probably, probably would have better recollection of that than me.

Lawson: "Suppose that's our, our question to you with respect to that document is do you recall, so we understand that that might be in the normal course of-"

Collins: "Mm-hm."

Lawson: "-of your-"

Collins: "Mm-hm."

Lawson: "-your business is giving a brief to Dave BASI at all?"

Collins: "I generally don't do that. Um, y'know, if there's issue up in cabinet that I am part of um, then, y'know, and it has something to do I may say, y'know, 'Here's how it goes we go, we're coming back next time.'

"But, I mean, this is, it reads to me like someone who's more sitting there observing, right? Yeah, you've got now who's more vocal and who isn't.

"Um, y'know, I would not have had that detailed a discussion with Dave at all uh, on sort of that, nor would I've characterized one of my minister's presentations as weak even to a political staff person probably. The um, uh...."

DeBruyckere: "Would Bob, what did, did you ever recall Bob VIRK being in-"

Collins: "He..."

DeBruyckere: "-any of these meetings?"

Collins: "That's, it's possible um, but we, I mean, it's rare that ministers bring political staff into cabinet. Uh, I mean, it's not impossible but I think it's highly unlikely.

"Um, I've never had my political staff at a cabinet meeting and I don't generally have too many staff around me (indecipherable) doin' stuff just 'cause I don't want them and don't need them there. Um-"

Lawson: (Indecipherable)

Collins: "-so, I don't know that."

Lawson: "Yeah, you may have already answered do you find that that is an accurate description of that cabinet meeting?"

Collins: "We had a number on rail. Um, y'know, me not talking or the premier not talking, if I, I mean this looks to me like there is, I mean, there's a briefing, its essentially a briefing right?

"On the 18th and then it's coming back for further discussion and other stuff a', a', on the 23rd according to this, right? Um, so, y'know I got a million things to do. I probably would've been already briefed by Chris on this s', uh, stuff I expect.

"And so, y'know, I could very easily have just completely tuned out and been doing, y'know, workin' through a stack of other stuff which I often do when it's something that I'm not getting much out of, right?

"Um, so I mean, it, it, it's a very possible um, y'know, I'm looking at the players here.

"Jeff is often a strong interventionist in cabinet on issues where he, y'know, he, he's pretty good political too so he sort of gets stuff. He I could see speaking at length on it."

TIELEMAN NOTE: "Jeff" may be Geoff Plant – then-Attorney General.

"Christie would have although she was not a big, big contributor at cabinet. I mean, she doesn't talk, didn't talk as much as you might think given her position. Um, in this case she would have asked though because she used to work for the Minister of Transportation in Ottawa. Um, so-"

TIELEMAN NOTE: "Christie" appears to be Christy Clark, who had worked for federal Liberal Transportation Minister Doug Young in Ottawa.

Lawson: "Mm."

Collins: "-she would have understand. Um, the uh, y'know the federal regulatory process around, y'know, 'cause one of the issues we were discussing was if it's, if it's uh, if CN is the successful bidder what is the regulatory climate um, including labour, right?"

"Um, 'cause now it's regulated under the Federal Labour Act, right? If it's provincial and it's held within BC then it's the BC Labour Code and one of the issues that we were looking at was how do you deal with the what's a, an absolutely ludicrous collective agreement, right?

"So, I could see her playing a bigger role in that meeting uh, based on that um, Jeff would never, y'know, never accuse the Minister of Transportation of providing a one-sided presentation. It's not the way he works."

The interview continues with Collins saying Chris Trumpy reported that CN Rail had been "discouraging or intimidating to possible other bidders", in particular Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

Lawson: "Okay. If you had learned that uh, Dave BASI or Bob VIRK has this information and passed it on to Pilothouse would that be appropriate?"

Collins: "I don't think anybody should give a blow by blow on what happens in cabinet to people outside of cabinet, right? And, y'know, that's just a general principle I don't think that's appropriate.

"I mean, I don't do that. I mean, we have, the only way you can have good knock 'em down and drag 'em outs at cabinet or caucus is if it stays within the room, right?"

No one implicated

None of Collins' statements to police in any way implicate any particular person, nor do they fully explain how Pilothouse obtained such confidential and detailed information.

But they do strongly suggest that neither David Basi nor Bob Virk would have been present or have direct access to the cabinet conversations about BC Rail later found in Pilothouse briefing notes.

The wiretaps released last week also show Basi and Virk gave other confidential government information on the separate privatization of a BC Rail-owned spur line at Roberts Bank -- called the Port Subdivision -- to lobbyist Bruce Clark, Christy's brother.

And the joint Crown and defence "statement of facts" issued at the time of the guilty pleas acknowledges that Bruce Clark, a lobbyist for Washington Marine Group at the time, was found by a police search to be in possession of confidential government documents obtained from Basi and Virk about the spur line privatization, including a draft request for proposals and TD Securities confidential presentation containing an economic evaluation of what BC Rail considered to be the value of the line.

That sale worth up to $70 million was cancelled in March 2004 after police informed then transportation minister Kevin Falcon -- another leadership contender -- that the process was tainted by leaks to a bidder.

Basi-Bruce Clark transcript

The telephone wiretaps show that in a call Oct. 22, 2003 Basi and Bruce Clark discussed how to get the BC Rail Roberts Bank sale draft Request For Proposals information from Basi to Clark, who was in London, England, by courier or fax.

David Basi: "So basically, um, what we have is the draft RFP."

Bruce Clark: "Okay."

Basi: "Um, that uh, we have t' make changes and y'know, uh, um, we can draft it anyway we want now, right: so..."

Clark: "Whose, wh', whose hands is it in?"

Basi: "It's, it's in our hands right now."

Clark: "Okay."

Basi: "Uh, and then it'll go back to transportation. And then they'll look at it and then they'll uh, um, issue the official RFP."

Clark: "Okay. What are the time lines like?"

Basi: "Uh, two weeks."

Basi: "So, I can sit on this thing for two weeks. So if you come back next week then you can take it and look at it, show it to them. They can, they can, y'know, change some of the words around, that's obviously, some buzz words they wanna see in there, right?"

Clark: "Yeah."

Basi: "And these, these companies know how to, how to, y'know, get the fluff out of this shit and how to tailor it to themselves, right?"

Clark: "Of course."

Later in the same call Clark asks if he can get the RFP sooner.

Clark: "Wonder, wonder if it would be better if you got it couriered from here or not?"

Basi: "I don't care. Whatever you want. I don't care."

Clark: "Okay, well maybe I'll get you to courier it to Europe for me, or something."

Basi: "You want me to courier it to Europe?"

Clark: "Sure, you could do that."

But then they decided to fax it instead.

Clark: "Or uh, or, or can it be faxed or something or?"

Basi: "Oh it can be faxed, yeah. Do you wanna give me a fax, secure fax number?"

Clark: "Yeah, I'll get you a secure fax number and we can do it that way."

Basi: "Yeah, you get me a fax number and I'll fax it to you.

Clark: "Sounds great my friend."

Christy Clark has admitted that brother Bruce is part of her leadership team -- but her campaign has not explained his role or responsibilities, nor did they previously respond to 24 Hours/Tyee inquiries about him.

Nor has Bruce Clark made any public statements about why he possessed restricted government documents obtained from Basi and Virk when police searched his home on Dec. 28, 2003.

That information is part of the "statement of facts" agreed to by both the Crown and defence when the guilty pleas were made last October.

Public deserves answers

Basi and Virk received a sentence of two years house arrest for accepting money and other benefits in exchange for giving out secrets.

Bornmann and Kieran, who were both to testify as Crown witnesses, were never charged. Bruce Clark was never charged with any crimes but was also expected to be called as a witness at the trial.

So the secret of how the confidential cabinet conversations came to be in the hands of not only lobbyists but their Denver-based clients OmniTRAX remains just that -- a secret.

For his part, David Basi continues to call for all documents to be released and for a public inquiry to be held, a move that the opposition New Democrats have also demanded.

"I want everything released, all the transcripts of the wiretaps -- not just snippets -- let's get it all out," Basi told me in an exclusive interview Sunday. "I have consistently called for all documents in this case to be released and for a public inquiry, which I will fully cooperate with."

"Christy Clark and all the other B.C. Liberal leadership candidates refuse to hold a public inquiry -- what do they have to hide?" Basi asked. "That speaks for itself."

David Basi pled guilty to serious breach of trust and fraud charges. The wiretap transcripts make clear he and Virk were motivated by greed.

But their guilt does not change the fact that British Columbians will not know what really happened unless a public inquiry takes place.

If you agree, please join my group Basi-Virk Public Inquiry on Facebook.

Bill Tieleman has covered the Basi-Virk case for The Tyee since the B.C. Legislature Raid occurred on Dec. 28, 2003, writing tens of thousands of words here, in 24 Hours newspaper and at his blog on it. He is accredited to report at B.C. Supreme Court and has the documents released last week. .

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Basi-Virk - Sex, Lies and Videotape - a misleading sex story raises other questions about why it even came out

David Basi, centre, Bob Virk far right, leave court after guilty plea October 18, 2010 - Bill Tieleman photo
"I Want Everything Released': David Basi

Convicted Railgate figure says 'Who's your daddy' wiretap comment was a joke, not about procuring sex

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday February 22, 2011

By Bill Tieleman

"Sex is full of lies."

- Jim Morrison, The Doors

Lurid headlines suggest that sex, lies and videotape starred in the B.C. Legislature Raid case, according to selected new police evidence released by the courts last week.

But an exclusive 24 hours/The Tyee interview with David Basi -- one of two ex-B.C. government aides who pled guilty of breach of trust and fraud charges -- and a separate exclusive interview with a man Basi allegedly procured sex with a young woman for -- paints a very different picture.

The newly disclosed wiretap evidence gives a distasteful view of Basi and Bob Virk, the other ex-ministerial aide who made a surprise guilty plea last October after only two witnesses testified.

In obscenity-filled transcripts released only to B.C. Supreme Court accredited journalists, they discuss providing confidential government information on BC Rail to lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran, who represented losing bidder OmniTRAX.

But in the most widely-reported passage, Basi appears to have procured a woman to have sex with another man as part of a request to obtain "membership lists" for "my guy," as Basi puts it.

"She'll be putting out like you wouldn't believe, pal.... Let me put it this way. She is so crazy, you'll be going home tired," Basi is taped as saying, and adding later in a subsequent call: "Who's your daddy? Do I come through?"

But the man Basi is speaking to -- who agreed to an interview with 24 hours/The Tyee on the condition his name not be used because he is in public life -- says reports on the conversation are completely misleading.

And so does Basi, who says he and his friend were merely joking, in admittedly bad taste.

"There were no prostitutes procured for anyone, for gosh sakes!" an exasperated Basi told me Sunday. "How completely and utterly ridiculous this is that people can't joke on the phone."

'Let's get it all out'

Basi says the selective release of only a small portion of the millions of pages of evidence, including more than 7,000 intercepted phone conversations, is wrong.

"I want everything released, all the transcripts of the wiretaps -- not just snippets -- let's get it all out," Basi said. "I have consistently called for all documents in this case to be released and for a public inquiry, which I will fully cooperate with."

"Christy Clark and all the other B.C. Liberal leadership candidates refuse to hold a public inquiry -- what do they have to hide?" Basi asked. "That speaks for itself."

The other man on the wiretapped conversation told me he was already having a brief sexual relationship with the woman at the time of Basi's call.

"Conversations that were taped, transcribed and edited can create an impression that diverges from the reality," he said. "It was not 'procuring a prostitute.' It was a jocular conversation, albeit in poor taste."

Regardless of the situation, the wiretap transcripts of that conversation and many others appear to have no bearing on the charges Basi and Virk pled guilty to, and received a two-year house arrest sentence for.

The need for a public inquiry

Basi and Virk also had their $6 million legal fees in the marathon case paid for by government, even though they admitted guilt, a decision that stopped the trial before dozens of possible witnesses -- like Basi's boss former finance minister Gary Collins or Christy Clark -- could have testified.

Why were these pages released by police and the Crown in negotiations with CTV news and the Globe and Mail newspaper in response to their court application, and not other documents -- like those obtained by the defence that might tell another side to this important story?

We will never know what really happened in this complex and confusing case unless, as the New Democrat opposition is demanding, a public inquiry is held into the $1 billion deal in 2003 that saw publicly-owned BC Rail sold to CN Rail.

Please join my group Basi-Virk Public Inquiry on Facebook and demand accountability.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Outrageous Appeal Court decision overturns victory of merchant Susan Heyes over devastating Canada Line construction on Cambie Street

My good friend Susan Heyes received terrible news last week - the BC Court of Appeal overturned her milestone victory awarding her $600,000 in damages for the incredible disruption her business suffered during construction of the Canada Line rapid transit project up Cambie Street.

Susan was part of the DO RAV RIGHT coalition of businesses and residents who demanded the Canada Line be built by underground tunnel boring instead of what actually happened - "cut and cover" construction that made Cambie a traffic and pedestrian disaster for years.  I was a consultant to DO RAV RIGHT for part of that fight.

When "cut and cover" was finished, dozens of businesses had gone bankrupt or closed shop as a result of the disruption.

Sue did the near-impossible - beating the giant multinational conglomerate that built the Canada Line in BC Supreme Court.

But now that victory has been overturned and the only recourse is a further lengthy and expensive appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. She has 60 days to decide.

I don't know what Sue will decide to do - but I do know that I will be there to help as much as I can if she fights this travesty.

Here is Sue's full news release - I will update you as the situation develops.

* * * *
We have a Legal System here in BC – but do we have Justice?

Friday February 18, 2011

On May 27th, 2009, after four years of litigation, BC Supreme Court Justice, Ian Pitfield, awarded $600,000 in damages to my company Susan Heyes Inc. as compensation for business losses caused by the construction of the Canada Line. The appeal of this ruling in my favour was heard April 15th, 2010.

Today, the decision was finally announced contradicting the findings of the lower court.

In upholding this appeal, the legal system has supported the confiscation of individual citizen’s livelihoods by government funded private, for profit ventures. This shocking ruling has failed to protect the rights of citizens, and has failed to uphold justice and fairness in a democratic society.

The Canada Line project was built on the backs of hundreds of blindsided small business people along the Cambie corridor.

The project chose the most disruptive of several methods of construction. This discretionary and confidential decision alone should have negated the defence of Statutory Authority which the Appeal Court Justices used today as the basis for their ruling.

Under the law, the defence of Statutory Authority can only be used when it is proven in court that no other less disruptive method of construction was available. Instead of the devastating cut-and-cover construction, a bored tunnel method was not only available, but it was the basis of all public consultations and years of engineering reports and studies.

This project was enabled by the strategic use of confidentiality agreements at every stage, leaving citizens and even municipal officials misinformed and out of meaningful consultation. The last minute secret switch from underground bored tunnel to cut-and-cover, was never approved by Vancouver City Council, as a decision making body. They had authorized the City’s Engineering Department to negotiate the agreement that provided access to Vancouver’s streets for the project in a vacuum. The engineers were forced to sign confidentiality agreements that prohibited them from informing their bosses – City Council – of this critical switch.

I question the validity of any contract or agreement that allowed this project to proceed, that was obtained in the absence of the whole truth about the project and its impacts on citizens and small businesses. Compensation should have been factored into the business plan.

I am appalled that our legal system has failed to support the rights of citizens, and has attempted to provide a legal justification for the excessive harm caused by this P3 project. I further wonder how many tens of millions of dollars have been spent to legally defend the project, instead of fairly compensating the victims.

The May 27th 2009 ruling from Justice Pitfield must be upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. The outcome of this litigation will set a precedent for all small businesses across Canada. The precedent that it sets should be just and fair, and reasonable.

When governments use their powers to confiscate value for the common good – individuals must be compensated.

Susan Heyes
4280 Main Street
Vancouver, BC


Thursday, February 17, 2011

BC Legislature Raid wiretaps suggest Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini paid $75,000 to fly Young Liberals to Paul Martin leadership convention

Bill Tieleman outside BC Supreme Court - Lyle Stafford photo
EXCLUSIVE: BC Legislature Raid case wiretaps suggest Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini paid $75,000 for Harmony Airways flight taking BC Young Liberals to convention that picked Prime Minister Paul Martin

BC Legislature Raid case police documents released Thursday suggest that the owner of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team paid $75,000 for a Harmony Airways flight taking federal Young Liberal Party members to the party leadership convention in 2003 that made Paul Martin prime minister.

In a wiretapped cell phone conversation November 7, 2003, fraud-convicted ex-BC government aides David Basi and Bob Virk excitedly and obscenely discuss how Francesco Aquilini had come up with the money to pay for the flight to the November 12-15, 2003.

The wiretaps are part of thousands of pages of police evidence against Basi and Virk but have never been made public before, nor has the information they contain been entered into court and subject to examination by Crown and defence.

At the time Vancouver real estate developer Aquilini, head of the Aquilini Investment Group, was negotiating to buy the Canucks from Seattle billionaire John McCaw with the assistance of senior lawyer Lyall Knott.

Police wiretap transcripts also indicate that someone named “Lyle” worked with Basi on the Aquilini flight funding.

Harmony Airways was closed in March 2007 and owner David Ho was charged in September 2009 with unlawful confinement, possession of illegal drugs and a loaded 9mm Glock pistol. Ho owns luxury car dealership MCL Motor Cars and the University Golf Club.

Basi’s former boss, ex-BC Liberal Finance Minister Gary Collins, left government in 2004 to become Harmony’s CEO but quit in December 2006 before the firm crashed.

I first broke the story of the chartered flight to Toronto in my then-Georgia Straight newspaper column published January 8, 2004 – but there was no indication then that Aquilini or Knott were in any way involved at that time.

At that time I interviewed then-federal Liberal Party BC President Bill Cunningham about the flight. Here’s an excerpt from my column then:

“In another development, Bill Cunningham, president of the Liberal party of Canada in B.C., confirmed reports to the Straight that an HMY Airways jet was chartered at a cost of about $90,000 to fly predominantly Young Liberal delegates to the November 12-15, 2003, leadership convention in Toronto.”

“Cunningham said in a telephone interview that the Young Liberals did their own fundraising for the flight, with between 200 and 215 people on board the aircraft. He said the effective price for the flight was $419. That would put the cost at between $83,800 and $90,085. In addition, delegates had to pay for hotel accommodations, food, and convention fees that ranged from $785 to $1,100 each.”

“Cunningham said that despite rumours he has heard connected to the police investigation, he has no concerns about fundraising by the Young Liberals and said the Liberal party would disclose all details as required by law.”

"I don't want to say there's no way we could be used for wrongdoing, but I can't see it," Cunningham said.”

The intercepted telephone conversation between Basi and Virk is part of a set of documents ordered released only to media accredited to the BC Supreme Court by Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie in response to an application filed by the Globe and Mail newspaper  and CTV BC News. I was able to access the documents today at the offices of Special Prosecutor team lawyers Janet Winteringham and Andi MacKay.

Basi and Virk entered surprise guilty pleas and received a sentence of two years house arrest – and sparked an ongoing controversy when it was revealed that the BC Liberal government paid their $6 million legal defence fees despite their acknowledgement of serious wrongdoing.

I continue to believe that only an independent public inquiry can get to the bottom of the many, many questions left unanswered by this case.

The full wiretapped transcript is as follows. Note that police wiretaps often use phonetic spelling, which is uncorrected here.


BOB VIRK: Hey, it’s Bob.

BASI: Hey.

VIRK: What’s up?

BASI: Fuck, Franchesco FRANCOLINI (sic) came through for the flight for the young Liberals for seventy-five thousand bucks.

VIRK: All covered?

BASI: Yeah.

VIRK: Holy.

BASI: I, I worked with Lyle (sic) on that. That’s why I was, I gotta confirm now, right? That’s why I was, that’s one of the reasons I was really pissed. There’s no credit given to us. Do you know how much we’ve nurtured that relationship with Lyle and Francesco?

VIRK: Um-hmm.

BASI: That fucking guy calls this office and I fucking jump twenty stories.

VIRK: Um-hmm.

BASI: He’s also negotiating today to buy the Canucks.

VIRK: He’s what?

BASI: Negotiating to buy the Canucks.

VIRK: Yeah, I know. He told me.

BASI: Today they’re, they’re, they’re actually in a meeting right now.

VIRK: Buddy, I, I, dont’ have to tell you that’d be the dream job, okay?

BASI: Vice President, Government Relations.

VIRK: I’ll be, I’ll be your bitch, whatever I have to do, man.

BASI: Come here, boy!

VIRK: I’ll be , I’ll be, I’ll be Adam and I’ll bring your danish.

BASI: Danish, fuck (indecipherable). Well, I’ll call you back, okay?

VIRK: Okay.

BASI: Bye.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Mayne thing - Ed Mayne pulls a Moira and will bail out of BC Liberal leadership to endorse George Abbott tomorrow

Province columnist Mike Smyth, left, & Sun reporter Jonathan Fowlie, centre, interview George Abbott at BC Liberal special convention last Saturday -  Bill Tieleman photo
There's more bailing out going on in the BC Liberal Party leadership race than happened on Wall Street in 2008!

Little-known candidate Ed Mayne is holding a 9:15 a.m. news conference Thursday and there's little secret to the content - he will pull a Moira Stilwell and leave the contest to support George Abbott. 

Sharp-eyed Vancouver Sun reporter Jonathan Fowlie noticed that a Mayne media advisory issued today was actually authored by Abbott campaign staffer "kcook".

That "kcook" is of course, Karen Cook, a vice-president of corporate communications firm Hoggan Associates - owned by James Hoggan.

So, that reduces the field from 6 candidates down to just 4, putting more pressure on likely 4th place finisher Mike de Jong to consider his future.

De Jong is Tweeting today that he's still in to win - but smart money would say that "Open Mike" is open to all offers from Abbott or Kevin Falcon - the two candidates with the best shot at winning. 

It's doubtful he would jump to Christy Clark's listing ship at this point when all the momentum is toward's Abbott's insurgent run and Falcon's establishment parade.


Judge orders release of Basi-Virk sealed documents - but only to accredited media; Crown seeks return of disclosure evidence

David Basi and legal counsel Mike Bolton outside court in 2010
UPDATE Thursday morning: clearly CTV News and The Globe and Mail - who applied to have the RCMP documents released - received those documents before anyone else gets them today.

Fair enough - they paid the lawyers' fees to make the application.

I will be attempting as an accredited journalist at BC Supreme Court to obtain copies for 24 hours/The Tyee and this blog and will update you at that time.

Having read both reports, I can't say it's earth shattering news that the RCMP "cleared" Premier Gordon Campbell and ex-Deputy Premier Christy Clark at the time - since the RCMP said no politicians were under investigation.


BC Supreme Court Associated Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie today - Wednesday - ruled that material previously sealed by the court in the BC Legislature Raid case can be released - but only to accredited media, not the public.

The Province newspaper's Keith Fraser reports that MacKenzie made the order and that the material will likely be available Thursday morning.

But defence lawyer Kevin McCullough argued strongly that the public had the right to see several affidavits from the lead RCMP investigator and other material.

And McCullough vigorously opposed a Crown request that all evidence disclosed to the defence be returned, saying former BC Liberal government ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk - McCullough's client - who pled guilty in a suprise plea bargain, want it preserved in case of a public inquiry.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the court hearing due to the illness of my daughter but hope to obtain copies of the material Thursday if possible.

UPDATE - CTV News reports released documents show Christy Clark, Gordon Campbell cleared by RCMP investigators

CTV reporter Jim Beatty says late this afternoon that documents "obtained exclusively" by CTV show "no evidence" was found by RCMP of any wrongdoing by Premier Gordon Campbell or then-Deputy Premier Christy Clark in the BC Legislature Raid case that started in 2003.

Beatty reports that "court documents released Wednesday" in an application filed in BC Supreme Court by CTV and the Globe and Mail show police and Crown evidence revealed nothing linking Campbell or current BC Liberal leadership candidate Clark to crimes committed by Basi and Virk, who pled guilty to breach of trust and fraud in October 2010.

"All along, this has been something that people with a political agenda have been trying to drag me into," Clark said Wednesday told CTV. "Those people have a political agenda; they're not speaking about reality when they throw all this mud."

BC Rail was sold for $1 billion in November 2003 and on December 28, 2003 police made an unprecedented raid on the BC Legislature, taking away boxes of evidence from Basi and Virk's offices.

The home of Clark's brother Bruce Clark was searched by police the same day and a "statement of fact" agreed upon by both the Crown and defence at the trial's conclusion said confidential government information regarding a second planned privatization of other BC Rail assets was found in Bruce Clark's possession - and that it had been provided to him by Basi and Virk.

Clark and then-husband Mark Marissen were visited at their home by police to discuss the case but no search warrant was ever issued and Marissen has repeatedly made clear that full cooperation was provided in the investigation.

Clark's current campaign activists include Patrick Kinsella, who was paid $297,000 by BC Rail to provide "business advice" between 2001 and 2005 and who chaired or co-chaired the 2001 and 2005 BC Liberal election campaigns.