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A crazy week in BC politics

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The BC Legislature

What’s really going on with the Basi/Virk deal?  That’s the question on my mind after today’s court hearing involving David Basi, the former Liberal government ministerial aide.

The breach of sentencing conditions that got David Basi hauled back into court to have the riot act read (and the conditions amended to add a Lindsay Lohan-like electronic monitoring bracelet) was—wait for it— a media interview at Bob Virk’s house (who, you'll remember, was the other ministerial aide who recently pled guilty to breach of trust in the BC rail trial).

That’s right.  Basi took a call at Virk’s house and did a media interview with Shachi Kurl of A Channel in Victoria.

It’s not like he went out on the lam.  He gave a media interview in the wrong place, angering the powers that be so much they put him under electronic monitoring.

Except that’s not what some say is really getting to the government. 

At least one observer outside the courtroom claimed the government was more concerned about the fate of the documents disclosed by the government to the defense team. The number of pages released is said to be in the hundreds of thousands

The next question in this trial that has ended but keeps crawling forward is: what happens November 18th when the appeal period is up and the fate of the disclosed documents becomes a live issue?

Will the government be able to head off any meaningful inquiry by ensuring their destruction?

***

On another disclosure note, the media lawyer for Global TV and the CBC took the first step in obtaining a search warrant for material placed under a publication ban by Judge Elizabeth Bennett in a 2006 ruling. 

Bennett’s ruling prevented reporting on documents attached to four warrants from July, August, September and October 2004, the lawyer told me. That's the period during which the RCMP interviewed most of the government staff working on the deal. It's also during the period when the RCMP was assembling evidence for its final interviews with former finance minister Gary Collins and then-transportation minister Judith Reid, interviews Ken Dobell was told about, including the questions that the RCMP would be asking.

As these affidavits reveal, government lawyer George Copley "gave very specific instructions about the disclosure of key documents related to the B.C. Rail investigation."

Maybe now we'll get a clue as to why Gary Collins resigned only two weeks after those interviews.  Or not.

***

As I walked into the courthouse, Bill Tieleman was being advised not to wear his anti-HST button into the building.  The pin was too sharp, I guess.  Tieleman was there for the Basi hearing and an 11 o’clock announcement of the first recall targets. The anti-HST brigade plans to recall MLAs as part of their strategy of forcing the government to overturn the much-hated tax.

After spending an hour at the hearing, I stepped out to see what was happening on the recall front.

Come on down, Minister Ida Chong. The campaign to oust Chong out of office Recall starts November 15th and the folks in Oak Bay Gordon Head have recruited 207 canvassers.  According to Bill Vander Zalm, they’ll be joined by 187 canvassers from Saanich North and 215 from Comox, all focused on Oak Bay.

“The plan is to hit the riding hard leading up to the holidays, take a short break at Christmas and then finish the riding petition in the first and second week of January.  Then we’ll send the same army of canvassers to Comox Valley and Saanich North and repeat the process,” Vander Zalm said.

Hey, new leader, this will be fun to manage along with the HST, the Basi Virk deal, the budget giveaway, the ministry re-org and the general mess that is the BC Liberal Party and government. Won't it?

(2) Comments

Edward Ngai November 15th 2010 | 9:21 PM

There's no doubt that the Libs are in a world of hurt right now, but if an untarnished leader (Christy Clark and, of course, as my recent piece commented, Dianne Watts come to mind) takes the helm, I can see them pulling one out of thin air despite the ridiculousness of the Campbell government.

My feeling is that Liberal voters really want an excuse to vote Liberal again. If there's one thing Campbell did right, it's for taking the brunt of the HST blow-- with him gone, the fire for even recall campaigns is dimmer.

Brisbrain November 16th 2010 | 12:12 PM

"...Dianne Watts come to mind"

Unfortunately, Dianne Watts is no longer in the running for the Liberal leadership.