‘It’s all over. All the evidence is in. It shows the BC government acted properly and it was only two rogue staffers that caused any problem with the sale of BC Rail’.
That’s the Ian Mulgrew/Gordon Campbell version of the BC Rail trial.
And it’s bullshit from beginning to end.
Gordon Campbell we get. Bullshit is his coin of the realm. But Mulgrew? Astonishing. It’s as if the forces of darkness have entered his head and are controlling his thoughts, his typing even.
Let’s take a closer look at the argument, because it’s the government’s argument and in democracies you question the government’s argument in order to get to the truth.
Here’s the nub of it according to Mulgrew. “The Liberals were going to be cleared according to what went down in court… For six years the public has been kept in the dark and subjected to the most provocative and unsubstantiated rumours imaginable, primarily that the Liberals used sleight of hand to flip a $1billion plus public asset to their corporate friends at CN Rail for a bargain basement price. No proof of that materialized”.
And here’s how it’s bullshit. After two witnesses the Liberals were well on their way to a devastating result because some proof of their sleight of hand had materialized. As BC Rail Board member Brian Kenning reluctantly testified under cross-examination, leaks and favouritism towards CN dogged the process from day one.
And, as Mulgrew knows, the defence was just getting going. With Gary Collins due to take the stand questions about influence peddling, meetings with Omnitrax and other sordid episodes were likely to be asked in cross-examination, all supported with wiretap and other evidence disclosed by the government following Justice Elizabeth Bennett’s disclosure rulings against the government.
The sheer chutzpah of Mulgrew’s view is evident here. He’s asking you to forget that the Special Prosecutor and government, with their offer backed by $6 million in cash, bought a halt to the trial – the only place the evidence could come out.
Mulgrew and Campbell know full well that there are hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence gathered by the defence, ruled relevant by the former judge. That’s on top of wiretaps that capture government ministers, media members as well as David Basi and Bob Virk. And Mulgrew also knows that the defence was going to deploy it. In fact they already had, presenting Kenning and Brown with evidence of government leaks favouring various proponents that can’t be attributed to Basi or Virk.
But now the evidence won’t see the light of day. Because the government put a stop to the trial.
In that light the government’s part in the deal is truly troubling. Not only did they sweeten the Special Prosecutor’s offer with $6 million. They insisted on a non-disclosure clause.
If Mulgrew is to be believed there is no need for a non-disclosure, because there’s nothing to disclose, all the evidence is out. But that’s not the way the BC Liberals see it. They made non-disclosure a condition of its monetary offer.
Mulgrew concludes that “the so-called trial began in May but we heard from only two witnesses and most of the time was eaten up by a non-stop display of courtroom bickering and legal squabbling. What was worse for the defence is that those first witnesses stuck to the government’s story, unwavering…”
How would he know? Mulgrew wasn’t in the court, as far as I could see. If he was he would have known that the legal squabbling that ate up time was mostly a result of attempts by the Special Prosecutor to limit the defence’s ability to cross examine.
And he would have known that the government’s witnesses destroyed their credibility with their inability to remember anything that happened from 2001 on.
But more importantly he would have known that the government’s deal – with it’s 6$ million payment and non-disclosure clause – had its genesis in the failure of the Special Prosecutor to limit the defence’s questioning.
That ‘squabbling’ took place in late June and has never been reported on because of the publication ban. But it’s there, I believe, that we see the beginning of the end, as the government and Special Prosecutor realized the trouble they were in.