John van Dongen resigned from the BC Liberal caucus and party citing unanswered questions about the deal that ended the BC Rail trial and the Premier’s own involvement in the corrupt sale of the railway.
In the legislature, Attorney General Shirley Bond responded with a fumbling defense of both the investigation and the trial deal.
Bond refused to acknowledge questions about Clark’s role in the BC Rail sale and stretched credulity with a claim that the government is cooperating ‘fully’ with the Auditor General in his investigation of the trial deal.
The Auditor General, as Bond knows, is in court trying to wrest information out of this secretive and lying government.
Yesterday Premier Clark emerged from her bunker to add to Bond’s lies. According to Times Colonist columnist Les Leyne “Clark on Tuesday said she’s cooperated with every investigation and 40,000 pages of documentation have been released and ‘not a single one suggested I have done anything wrong.’”
That’s a straight out lie. The government hasn’t publicly released 40,000 pages of anything.
And the government appointed special prosecutor has only released a few hundred pages to support his allegations against Basi and Virk. The full RCMP investigation of the Liberal government together with the government’s BC Rail documents remain behind lock and key.
So what’s new? Christy Clark and her government are lying about the BC Rail deal, just like her predecessor Gordon Campbell.
The real question isn’t what, but why. Why is Christy Clark refusing to come clean on BC Rail to the point that it has resulted in a member of her government crossing the floor to give new energy to the BC Conservative Party?
The answer? Clark, like Campbell, is protecting three people critical to the survival of the government and the BC Liberal Party.
Here’s who’s at risk:
- Christy Clark
Amongst the RCMP’s investigation records not disclosed by the Prosecution in the BC Rail trial are reports, emails and calendar entries that raise significant questions about Clark’s role in the BC Rail scandal.
Emails and calendar records in particular raise questions about Clark’s claim that she had no relationship with the Pilothouse Firm, beyond personal friendships.
For example after a Cabinet meeting during which the rail deal was discussed, in an email exchange – released by Alex Tsakumis – Pilothouse lobbyist Brian Kieran wrote his partner Eric Bornman – of bribing Dave Basi fame – “Will you email me back your relevant insights from your chat with Christy..”
This and other email and scheduling records suggest Pilothouse and Clark had a strong relationship that was exploited to further the interests of Pilothouse’s client Omnitrax. Some have suggested that the records lead to the conclusion that Clark herself violated Cabinet confidentiality in her relationship with Pilothouse.
Tsakumis has provided links to many of these documents in full.
- Patrick Kinsella
Kinsella is widely acknowledged to be Clark’s eminence gris, helping to direct her leadership campaign after his first choice – Rich Coleman – dropped out. And Kinsella’s all over the BC Rail files.
The issue facing Kinsella is whether he was in a serious and potentially illegal conflict while advising both BC Rail and CN Rail on BC Rail’s privatization.
In 2008 I uncovered Kinsella’s $6000 a month contract with BC Rail. Close to that time Gary Mason dropped the stunning allegation that Kinsella was also in the employ of the winning bidder CN Rail.
Earlier this year I obtained an FOI that seemed to confirm the relationship. In an exchange between Laura Daphinee, Campbell’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Brenda Eaton, Campell’s Deputy Minister and Kevin Mahoney, the Vice President of BC Rail, Mahoney tells Eaton that he believes Kinsella is working for both BC Rail and CN.
That relationship, if accurate, contravenes government policy and may contravene the law. More importantly if accurate it strongly suggests that CN had a enormous advantage in the sale process – an advantage that undermines the legality of the sale.
A related issue is whether the government disclosed Kinsella’s role to the fairness advisor charged with reporting on the fairness of the sale process.
- Kelly Reichart
In 2003 Kelly Reichart was the Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party and as Alex Tsakumis has reported was caught on tape by the RCMP team investigating David Basi.
In the RCMP transcript of the recording – posted on Tsakumis’ site – Reichart offers “a tip” to get something done by David Basi’s boss, Gary Collins.
Neither the RCMP nor the government have ever disclosed whether that apparent contravention of the Criminal Code was followed up by the investigation.
To reiterate, the notes taken by the RCMP appear to show the head of the BC Liberal Party to be involved in a ‘pay for play’ operation. If that doesn’t leave you speechless nothing will.
And it raises the institutional question. If these questions remain unanswered, does that not undermine not only those three individuals but also the BC Liberal Party and the administration of justice in our province?
Clark says all questions are answered. But these precise questions, posed by the NDP opposition and now raised by van Dongen, sat on the order paper for years disregarded by the BC Liberal government and much of BC’s media alike.
And why should they be taken seriously now?
Well, I helped write the NDP’s version of these questions, posted on Hansard, and I know the accuracy of the information they were based upon. My conclusion is that any party that cares about BC should take these questions very seriously.
I disagree with much of what John van Dongen believes. On this issue I think he’s right on track.