The BC Rail plea bargain: The question that hasn’t been asked.

How did the offer of a deal to David Basi and Bob Virk come about?  That’s the question nobody’s asked.

On the day the deal became public, Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino said he never saw the final offer until 9:40 AM the morning the deal was announced.  Attorney General Mike de Jong says he wasn’t part of it.  The defence didn’t approach the government or the Special Prosecutor.

No one has admitted to initiating the deal.

What is on the record is that there were two parts to the deal worked out by two different parties.

The first and most straightforward part was the plea deal and sentencing deal – especially the sentencing.  That was fully in the hands of Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino.

The Special Prosecutor had previously proposed a variety of deals involving federal prison time.  Those had been rejected out of hand.   This time he came back to the table offering two years of house arrest for David Basi and Bob Virk.  Charges against Aneal Basi were to be dropped.

A pretty limp conclusion to a trial with big allegations.

But the Special Prosecutor knew all along that no offer on the pleas or the sentence would be enough to get a deal.  There was the outstanding issue of costs.  And that’s the second part that had to be put together.

Under provincial policy a conviction waives the indemnity all high level employees receive.  With the guilty plea – even to reduced charges – David Basi and Bob Virk would be liable for $3 million each in legal costs.  That was the deal breaker.   It meant bankruptcy and the loss of their family homes.

It wasn’t in Berardino’s power to do anything about it.  Yet he says he didn’t work with the government to achieve it.  And only the government could fix that part and complete the deal.

According to Attorney General Mike de Jong he was not involved in the decision to reach a deal with Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk.  Issues relating to defence costs were decided by the deputy ministers of the Attorney-General and of Finance.  But de Jong’s comments make it clear that he didn’t send that part of the deal to those two officials to resolve.

So here’s the question that never got asked:   Who asked the ministry officials to resolve the money issue?  And who communicated that to Berardino and the defence?

In other words, who was the glue between the two pieces?

First of all, it couldn’t have been a run of the mill deputy.  Line deputies take orders before they overturn public policy, especially when it’s on a career limiting deal like this one.

No, we have to look elsewhere for the glue that put the deal together.

Think about it.  It had to be someone who can give a line deputy their marching orders.  It had to be someone who knew exactly what was at stake for the government, someone who knew the political risks involved in the trial.  It had to be someone who knew everything about the case.  It had to be someone with hiring and firing power, someone you don’t want to cross.

All roads lead to one place.  It had to be at least one of three people in the Premier’s office who ordered up the deal.

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7 Responses to The BC Rail plea bargain: The question that hasn’t been asked.

  1. North Van's Grumps says:

    Three? The Premier
    Two? Chief of Staff
    One? Deputy Minister to the Premier
    Zero? Incoming Chief of Staff

  2. RossK says:


    Is there a hastily put together ‘protocol’ on this one somewhere?


  3. Leah says:

    shhhhhhhhh!! You’re asking a question the Supreme Court doesn’t want answered – or I’m sure our new Chief Justice Bauman would have insured integrity was the rule in his court. Or am I alone in thinking the BCSC has lost its moral code?

    Maybe, just maybe, it will be the Chief Justice himself who determines that all trial documents regardless of type, will be kept for future inquiries as has been requested. Now THAT would be a welcome shocker! Too bad it’s only a pipedream.

  4. Norm Farrell says:

    Ian. There must be something wrong with your analysis. Either that or someone has been lying to the public. But, that would be news and pundits like Vaughn Palmer and Michael Smyth would be all over it. Maybe even the RCMP investigating obstruction of justice.

  5. e.a.f. says:

    Any one of those involved knew there would be problems if more witnesses were called. Some of them would have had memory issues and some might have lost their control, come on down Christi clarke. Whatever was to be, it had to be stopped. Here are some of my favorites, but we will never know for sure.
    1. dear Lara told Gordo how it was going to work and that was that.
    2. some one told Gordo, there is going to be a problem and he called Coleman who figured out the details.
    3. Basi’s lawyer phoned Gordo and said something along the lines of, this is the deal or we bring out the fun stuff and you guys might be the ones going to jail.
    4. a combo of the above.
    Having read Stevie Cameron’s, On the Take, what has gone on in BC has made Mulroney and his crew look like rank amateurs.
    I suspect Gordo was invited to the Briederberg meeeting so they could just see how one person could pull off so much in an alleged democracy like Canada.
    Unless Stevie Cameron or someone like her decides to write a book on all of this we will never know because the media will not cover it. The usual media crowd all need their pay cheques and their employers are most likely part of the problem.

  6. Devinder says:

    Dave and Bob are not good people. Long time they play dirty politics. The deal they made is no good for taxpayer but make deals is what Dave and Bob do for a long time. Government should not have made deal with these two. Everyone should get truth and what they deserve. I don’t think inquiry gets to bottom. Truth all buried and burned.

  7. Rod Hebner says:

    There are a lot of problems within our justice system and the biggest problem with it are the plea deals as they are the biggest contributing factor in the miscarriage of justice although the judges are definitely a contributing factor. There should not be any pretrial negotiations beginning with the police as that is where it begins and to make any changes, it needs to stop where it begins. The police themselves often make the choice of charging a person with an offense and often times it’s used as a threat to intimidate the suspect of admitting to things that they may have never done. Once the person has decided what they will or will not do, the police make their charges and it moves up to the prosecution and the defense lawyers who often times negotiate on the evidence or lack of it so neither the prosecutor nor the defense is left looking a little less incompetent should he or she lose their case. The plea bargaining is then presented to the accused and he or she accepts or declines the negotiated plea bargain
    and then the results are further determined between the prosecutor and the judge.
    Meanwhile, nobody sees anything wrong with all of this ! It’s all a means to speed up the process so everyone is appeased to some degree within whatever is left of the law or the judiciary system. The law is not there to be negotiated or deviated from to serve the purpose of the police, the prosecution or the defense but most of all the judge should just refuse to accept these backroom plea deals entirely as that would put an end to plea bargaining and the process that it begins with. The judges are in control of their courtrooms but that doesn’t mean they have maintained the integrity of the laws. I believe this kind of justice has contributed directly to every man and woman who was convicted, went to jail, served many years only to be found innocent many years later. Think about what you might admit to if you were to be charged with murder in the first degree or manslaughter and all this plea bargaining can determine which but if you’re actually innocent and choose not to plead guilty to manslaughter you could spend the next 25 years before you are even eligible for parole. How many have gone to jail for crimes they never committed ? Well, thank the judicial system for a lot of the wrongful convictions to which the taxpayers are left with paying compensation. If a person was charged with a crime, no plea deals, no threats or intimidation, our laws would still not be perfect but they would be a lot closer to it than what we have lowered it to. If you can’t hold the Police, the prosecution, the judge, MLA’s, Premier or government official accountable then we have no credibility in the laws of this country as nobody should be above the law or the proper management of it. Being sent home after being convicted of a crime is not an acceptable form of punishment in the case of Basi or Virk and the Judge should be ashamed of being manipulated into making such a judgement regardless of whether or not they admit to it. This judgement was a clear and total mismanagement and abuse of our justice system . The Premier appoints the Judges which needs to be changed for obvious reasons but the changes need to be made at the very basic levels of our Government. Premiers, MLA’s and every government employee including the Police who are convicted of breaking our laws should be held accountable in the same way and to the same degree as any Canadian citizen. Those government employees were given the highest level of trust and took their own oath to uphold the laws and the trust and if those oaths are broken, the law broken, they should be subjected to a mandatory prison sentence. Mandatory jail sentences would take the plea bargaining out of the equation and those that are tempted to break the laws would consider such a deterent before they undertook breaking their oath and the laws. There is no question that the Premier had no business paying their legal fees, he had no business appointing judges, he had no business selling BC Rail after it was proven that it was sold under fraudulent and illegal acts. CN Rail should be prosecuted, their lobbyers sent to jail for offering bribes. This entire matter is not something the Premier could not have ignored or not known about as it was a Provincial asset that nobody but the Premier was able to sell. The selling off of BC assets, the privatization, the corruption of government employees, the resigning of office, failing to call for an election and then forcing a new tax on the people of this province by bringing in the HST after saying he wouldn’t, is a legacy I sincerely hope his family and friends are proud of as this Premier is definitely one of the very worst that society has ever produced and elected to office. His true self is reflected in the photograph taken by the legal authorities who reside outside of this Province in Hawaii as this same photograph would never have been available had he charged with the same crime in this province. For the MLA’s who supported Gordon Campbell, you know who and what you supported but the question remains who among you will be the first to make changes so this can’t continue to happen again and again ?

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