Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How about an 'Inquiry on the Cheap'

News Item:
The provincial Crown is seeking the return of up to one million pages of documents disclosed to defence lawyers in the Basi-Virk political corruption case.

B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie will hear the Crown's application, seeking the return of the documents, on Feb. 16 at the Vancouver Law Courts. . .
All BC Liberal leadership candidates oppose holding a public inquiry into the sale of BC Rail and underlying bribery and influence peddling. The documents now in the hands of Basi/Virk defence lawyers contain almost one million pages of evidence linked to purported crimes and civil fraud of government insiders and associates.

If the documents are allowed into the public domain, leadership candidates fear that ostensible wrongdoing might be established as fact. This could lead to demands for prosecutions that would affect public confidence in the BC Liberal Government. Additionally, party members and financial supporters could face jail terms or house arrest that would interfere with Liberal Party activities.

One unnamed source close to the Attorney General declared that BC has a proud tradition of ignoring, even consenting to, acts of fraud against the government by those having access to funds or other valuable public assets.
"If we suddenly clamped down on influence peddling, deceit and mismanagement, privately funded political parties would be completely debilitated. Who would be left on the streets to organize elections and raise money for needy politicians? People should let us run our own affairs. They should move on and focus on important issues like allowing elementary school students the right to vote or creation of more long weekends through additional holidays and holy days. "
Most experienced political pundits support the determination of BC Liberals to move on and end discussions of BC Rail. Vaughn Palmer has written about holding "an inquiry on the cheap." Perhaps, Patrick Kinsella, who has experience in both politics and railways, could be asked to provide a low-key fact finding report. If Kinsella is unavailable, perhaps the old Pilothouse boys, Keiran, Bornmann and Elmhirst, could review the situation. Already having advance knowledge and not being fully committed to other activities, they could complete a review without running up more than a few millions each for expenses.

An inquiry on the cheap might be the most cost effective move to restore confidence in government conduct. Not all commentators agree. Alex G. Tsakumis has been posting old file memos hes says clearly indicate inappropriate conduct by BC Liberal insiders. The blogger is unwilling to accept Liberal assurances that everything on the Basi/Virk file is copacetic and he wants a full blown inquiry. Despite many assurances and assertions from BC Liberals, Tsakumis remains skeptical,
"Can’t imagine how everyone who’s self-proclaimed as lily white in this sordid tale, doesn’t want an inquiry, and yet Basi and Virk, the ” admitted criminals” are fighting to keep their defence documents…"
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10 comments:

  1. How about an investigation by one of the standing cmtes of the legislature - give the NDP backbenchers and the clerks something to do when the house isn't sitting? Cheap and transparent.

    BTW - where did you get the quote from the anon AG source?

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  2. Sorry Akat. I cannot reveal all my sources without a court order.

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  3. what we need in this province at this time is a WIKILEAKS of all the BC RAIL Documents. Put everything out for all to read and see.

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  4. I don't see any way to bring this issue to a satisfactory conclusion without a formal inquiry with very broad terms of reference. The difficulty will be establishing a commission that would be trusted widely. The government, including the Attorney General, senior civil servants, the 'independent' prosecutors and the Supreme Court of BC and RCMP must be reviewed to ensure conduct was appropriate and professional.

    The BC Liberals will not order such an inquiry because it would be certain political suicide, not of a Premier but an entire party. A release of documents à la Wikileaks is only possible if sources inside government are willing to provide incriminating papers.

    Perhaps the Auditor General's review of payments to lawyers is our only other hope for information.

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  5. ''A release of documents à la Wikileaks is only possible if sources inside government are willing to provide incriminating papers."

    I would stake my left testicle that there are many eyes and hands that have had custody of these papers. or have had access to them. And none of these folks are guilty of anything. So they are only guided by their conscience, and would be doing the public a world of good. A leak of this kind would not be traceable.

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  6. I agree that we need whistleblowers motivated to stop unlawful acts. However, those who take documents to the public to stop or punish illegal activities should be better protected. Sitting governments seldom enable or encourage whistleblowing or easy access to information. It is easy to impute the reasons why those barriers are erected.

    Nevertheless, there is evidence being produced behind the scenes. Ethical bloggers though must do their own due diligence before publication. Frankly, that is difficult for lack of resources and barriers erected. For example, the Supreme Court of BC goes out of its way to exclude citizen journalists from information and schedules made available to a favored few 'accredited' journalists, who are their own gatekeepers.

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  7. Hi Norm.
    I found Brian Kieran's blog comments interesting when he was discussing how George Abbott's musing about having a limited inquiry into the BC Rail $6 million payoff would put him at odds with every other Liberal who "want to put the BC Rail scandal to bed..." How can he call it a scandal when nobody's looked into it, and how can it be "put to bed" before it's, in effect, been "woken up"...
    On another note, I'm disgusted by Postmedia and Craig James' collaboration on a drive-by smear campaign of the anti-HST and recall campaigns. Trying to link upset voters from last year with the some crazed US gunman is sinking pretty low, even for BC politics. I think this calls in to question Craig James' abilities to fulfill his role as the CEO of Elections BC, as his giving a media interview of such a tenor shows the likelyhood of bias in his decisions. Might be an article in that for you, Norm...


    Warren White
    Gordon Head

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  8. Good points Warren. I made a note to listen to NW's audio vault for Bill Good's interview with Craig James. Judging by Good's bad promo before the segment, I expect the broadcaster was shedding tears for Mr. James victimization by vitriolic critics, particularly bloggers like me:

    http://northerninsights.blogspot.com/search?q=craig+james

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  9. I concur with this statement; "Trying to link upset voters from last year with the some crazed US gunman is sinking pretty low, even for BC politics."

    I caught Keith Baldry's comments on GlobalTV News this evening and i was take aback by the low blow Baldry was flogging. And another attack on the "blogsphere 'as if a couple of "kooks" can smear the majority of the public that read and comment responsibly on Blogs. Such PAP!! They are afraid that they are losing readers and audience ratings to the internet! Well i have news for Baldry and Galius. It's too late. More and more folks are searching and digging through the internet to get new and other information that the MSM are WITHHOLDING from us!

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  10. Well there is the occasional loony sitting at a keyboard using various identities, dishing out profane abuse to whomever offends, which is anyone not faithfully sharing the lunacy. But, you are absolutely correct that those kooks are irrelevant to the meaningful dialog that goes on at many online sites. Keith Baldry and others like him dislike anyone in public forums challenging their work or holding them to account.

    For example, there was valid criticism at this and other blogs when Good, Palmer and Baldry took their 'Ledge' act on the road to trade shows of industry groups they cover. Under the old media model, no one could talk publicly about conflicts of interest or point out factual errors or commercial tie-ins, as Harvey Oberfeld has done.

    The North American car industry resisted change and improvement until the Asian competitors forced it on them. Then, the dinosaurs had to adapt or die.

    The online world of political commentary is young but it is getting better from month to month. In BC, we have a vibrant community online covering many subjects. For example, a science blogger at UBC, Rosie Redfield, is followed all over the English speaking world, even by writers at famous science journals who pay attention when Ms. Redfield blogs.

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