Are van Dongen’s BC Rail questions real?

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

This entry was posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, BC Rail, Christy Clark and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Are van Dongen’s BC Rail questions real?

  1. Martin says:

    While you got the “big three” who are still currently in government, don’t forget to add:

    Gordon Campbell, Gary Collins and Judith Reid. They may have scrambled like rats off the deck of the S.S. Liberal before it sank, but their dirty fingerprints are all over this too!

  2. Julie says:

    Why did Van Dongen wait for 12 years, to speak about Campbell’s theft and corrupt sale of the BCR? Where was he and all of the other Liberal ministers, when Campbell’s election lie, the BCR wasn’t for sale crap? The trial of Campbell’s theft and sale of the BCR, was a total shameful farce. The stink of corruption, I have heard, stunk all the way up to the Muir Space Station.

    Van Dongen walking across the floor to the Conservatives, because of Christy not settling the $6 million. I’m not buying it. Better yet, ask him to explain, why he sat there with his finger up his nose, while Campbell literally destroyed this province.

  3. John's Aghast says:

    And I’d be suprised if the list were limited to six!

    Why did van Dongen wait 12 years? Same reason all the others haven’t opened up.
    They didn’t have to. It appeared ‘they’ were going to get away with it.

    Thank goodness something finally prompted him to do it now. We have heard all sorts of rants and finger pointing ever since Basi/Virk copped a plea.

    To no avail!

    I’d be greatly suprised if van Dongen and his self financed lawyer can/will shed any more light on this festering sore.

    But I’d sure be damn happy if he did!

  4. Sharon says:

    Excellent analysis and layout of the issues Ian. Brilliantly done!

    All too often the lazy-ass, deceptive MSM here in BC do their best to either make it sound far too complex for the poor little Joe Average to “get”, or they dismiss facts and intelligent questions as “conspiracy theory”.

    Your straight-forward piece on this subject should be a page in a “citizens’ primer” and issued as mandatory reading for every voter before they can cast a ballot.

  5. Scotty on Denman says:

    Looking back with broader context and perspective many years from now, the demise of the BC Liberals will probably be attributed to the corrupt sale of publicly owned BC Rail, overshadowing most of their other many transgressions save for what has already become the mythical and symbolic last straw, the HST (the hated tax is more properly distinguished as the British Commonwealth precedent of a citizen’s initiative forcing a government to rescind a tax legislation.)

    John van Dongen, long-time MLA, serving in Opposition and, for a while, cabinet minister in government, is pursuing a political career together with his spouse-and parliamentary assistant, so dumping the tanking BC Liberals for the ascendant BC Conservatives is astute in a modest way. And since he’d already warned he would have a hard time supporting a Christy-led party during their leadership campaign, the move can hardly looks treacherous, Machiavellian genius. The question is why, when he could have cited those two perfectly plausible reasons for crossing the floor, did van Dongen feel he had to cover his retreat from his now-former colleagues with as stinging a Parthian shot as the BC Rail scandal? He did seem to anticipate a nasty and personal retaliation by having documents at hand to refute some of the smears and innuendo that followed. Perhaps playing the BC Rail card is a warning to his old party that he has enough dope on the scandal to make it really hurt should they try to slag him personally, or implicate his new wife, or his continuing career, now under the Conservative banner. He would never say that out loud, of course, because that would incriminate; but the meaning is well taken: the BC Rail scandal, even the mention of it, is poison to the BC Liberals.

    So how does van Dongen avoid incriminating himself? He was, after all, part of the government that orchestrated the corrupt sale of BC Rail. How can he be immune to the poison? He claims, essentially, that he and others in caucus were unaware of the insider details, that they were told the six million dollar hush-money payoff was merely his government being prudent, that he raised concerns but he always found the answers unacceptable. We might take him at his word while keeping in mind that for the sake of his career he must distance himself as far as possible from the scandal that killed the BC Liberals. This might explain van Dongen’s very curious hiring of a lawyer, out of his own pocket, no less, to find the answers to his questions about the BC Rail scandal he couldn’t get from his own caucus, parenthetically implying he is as ignorant of the sordid details as the rest of us. We should also note he will be able to claim any information he might need to defend his political career against BC Liberal attacks he only became apprised of when is lawyer “discovered it” while in his recent employ, parenthetically implying that he knew nothing about it before hand. Perhaps, if the government treats van Dongen with uncharacteristic timidity, we might glean something of the truth.

    The episode also reminds that John Cummins has to be very careful about whom he adopts from the BC Liberal party. Van Dongen looks very prepared, organised and well put-out. His sharp criticism of Christy during the leadership campaign may be the shrewdest political insurance he could have ever gotten. But then, he’s a political careerist; we shouldn’t be too surprised. He made it easy for Cummins to adopt his first BC Liberal orphan.

  6. Merv Ady says:

    I’m interested in Shirley Bond’s claim to be “co-operating fully” with the Auditor General’s mission on the Basi-Virk deal. Will she say that outside the house? Perhaps with a copy of G&M Mark Hume’s analysis for comparison? No matter..It used to be a serious indiscretion to attempt to mislead the good occupants of the Legislature. She should have been called on it, even though nobody has truly been misled.

  7. Burgess says:

    I would like an answer as to which Lieberal supporter got the BCRail properties from Vancouver to Dease Lake. Except for the boondoggle or the branch line from Abbotsford to the coal port WHO got the property and for how much? Anyone have any clues??????????

  8. RossK says:

    The contrast between this post from Mr. Reid and a recent post from the former Attorney General Mr. Geoff Plant, which can be found here, is stark.

    It is also worth considering who’s views on this matter are supported by, you know…

    Actual facts.

    (and it is not lost on we who have been paying attention that at least 1,751 specific pages of documents have NOT been released by the government.)


  9. kootcoot says:

    Excellent piece Ian, and excellent comments all. RossK that puff piece by the guy that illegitimately appointed Wild Bill Berardino is truly pathetic. I couldn’t contain myself from pointing that out at his joint, and still I left out so much.

    Plant and Kierans should consider forming a partnership to write and publish fairy tales for intellectually challenged adults, oh I guess they already do that independently of each other!

  10. John's Aghast says:

    I’m not permitted to respond to Plant’s query to van Dongen:
    “So here’s the question. What would you have done?”

    Do you mean as Loukidelis or as Basi/Virk?
    Pretty much as they did, but that doesn’t make it right. Loukidelis had his orders and who knows what motivated Basi/Virk. Greed? Fear?

  11. Robert says:

    I only caught a few seconds of Macomb telling someone that NW had gone over the evidence he had provided them about something and that it amounts to nothing. Every time someone bring up wrong doing NW talkers always say it is nothing. Well I wish they would go after some of the lieberals as hard as Macomb went after Seth Klein.

  12. John Twigg says:

    Thank you Ian – if enough of us keep at it the truth eventually should come out but it’s already almost obvious what went down, namely a lot of corruption.

    The Auditor General today going after Coleman’s forest lands deal is yet another example of a pattern of favours for friends and insiders; Coleman believes he was doing a public service to save a major employer that his brother just happened to work for but now the A-G questions the abuse of public interests.

    Re Kinsella, don’t forget he was advising Campbell at the same time, whether or not on retainer we don’t know, so that means he was working three sides at once, not just two!

    Wonder why they’re working so hard to keep a lid on all of this? Why is Coleman trying now to intimidate JvD and prevent others from defecting?

    This all has the look and feel now of the chaos shortly before Vander Zalm’s demise.


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