Basi-Virk B.C. Rail Guilty Plea Just the Beginning

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Basi-Virk: The Plot Thickens
by Rafe Mair
So, the plot thickens and bit by bit we extract the truth out of the back-pedalling, inkfish tactics being used by the Campbell government to explain the Basi-Virk bribe - for bribe it was.
Police raid B.C. Legislature, Dec. 28, 2003 

We started with Crown Counsel telling us, as the disclosure of the bribe was made, that he did it all himself. He must have grossly underestimated the intelligence of the BC people. As some teeth were extracted we learned that no, it wasn't all by himself, but from the Deputy Attorney-General, Criminal Justice Branch (ADAG).

Pause for a moment. The ADAG is a special role and not really part of the civil service, this from a release by the Attorney-General's Ministry:

"The responsibilities of Crown counsel are defined in the Crown Counsel Act. The act ensures the independence of the prosecution service. Prosecutors are guided by the policies of the Criminal Justice Branch and they are ultimately accountable to the assistant deputy attorney general (ADAG). Under the act, the ADAG is head of the Criminal Justice Branch and is responsible for the administration of the branch and the day-to-day operations of the prosecution service. While the Attorney General is responsible for overseeing the administration of justice in the province, the Attorney General does not normally become involved in prosecution decisions relating to individual cases."

Now, as I'm sure you're asking, how can the ADAG get instructions for settlement without going to his boss, the AG?
[For complete article features, please see original at The here.]

The answer is that he can't, nor, as we will see, can the AG make that decision. Stay tuned.

Today we learn the key to the bribe when we're told that the Deputy Finance Minister was part of the negotiations which went back, incidentally, nearly three weeks before the announcement. The Deputy Finance Minister is a public servant, under Order-in-Council and reports to the Finance Minister. He chairs what is known as Treasury Board Staff, better known as "Little Treasury Board", which - and again this from the AG's office - "is responsible for developing and reviewing government's economic, fiscal and taxation policies. It provides analysis and advice to Treasury Board (the Cabinet committee responsible for budget and management matters) and to the Minister of Finance" through Treasury Board", which is chaired by the Finance Minister, Colin Hansen, and is comprised of Hansen and 7 senior Cabinet ministers.

Pause. Now the path becomes a little clearer. Crown Counsel needs two things: authority to make the deal in the first place, and $5 million in hush money. There is no way the ADAG can make that decision and provide the money which is how the deputy Finance Minister gets in the act. He has no authority to make this decision either so he must go to Treasury Board, C.Hansen prop., and both ask for the money and convince the Board that it's needed. There is no way in the world that Hansen with or without Treasury Board could make this decision, so the matter goes to Cabinet, chaired by one Gordon "Pinocchio" Campbell.

There is another cute little fact finally disclosed: despite earlier denials, Basi and Virk had to sign a confidentiality agreement - they couldn't talk or the deal was off! And who was that to protect?

It sure as hell wasn't the public who had every right to know all the details.

Remember that Crown Counsel Berardino was winning the case and if he wasn't sure of that, he had to be when the accused offered to cop a plea. But follow me carefully from here: If his remaining witnesses, Collins, Campbell, et al. would help Basi and Vick's case, Berardino was obliged to reveal that to the accused's lawyers. We therefore know that these witnesses to come would make Crown Counsel's case all the stronger.

Why then would Mr. Berardino want to bail out?

There are but two possibilities: either Berardino is as dumb as a sack full of hammers and doesn't understand these things, or he was told to settle on orders from Gordon Campbell. In helping you make your choice, let me tell you that Mr. Berardino is a very clever lawyer, one of the best courtroom lawyers in the province.

Clearly, this confidentiality agreement was intended to protect the political asses of Messrs Campbell and Collins and other Liberal insiders.

The $5 million bribe to Basi and Virk was authorized by Premier Gordon Campbell who was in the negotiations from the beginning and knew that he and former Finance Minister Collins and other key people in his clique, were going to be called as witnesses which is why the bribe was paid.  

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