AbeBooks.com. Thousands of booksellers - millions of books.
Feed on

Basi-Virk trial update

The decision by Crown Counsel Bill Beradino to reduce his witness list in the Basi-Virk trial is disturbing, very disturbing indeed. This case is, of course, all about the “lease” of BC Rail to CN and the Campbell government’s role in it.

Mr Berardino has a huge experience in litigation, having been involved in many serious cases, some representing the government of BC. And this is where the problem comes.

The cynic would look at the Basi-Virk case and say “no wonder Berardino is reducing the witness list – he doesn’t want to put former Minister Gary Collins on the witness stand and subject him to be cross examined by defense counsel and perhaps embarrass the Campbell government”.

It’s already been alleged that Berardino is pulling his punches because his real client is the Campbell government, not the Crown as prosecutor. It’s in those last few lines where the trouble arises.

The Crown Prosecutors Act provides that special prosecutors be appointed by the Deputy Attorney-General, not the A/G himself but is the average member going to believe that the Attorney-General didn’t have anything to say about this appointment? Remember, I’m not saying that the Attorney-General did interfere, just that for the bloke on the bus who doesn’t trust governments and especially doesn’t trust this one, such an allegation strains credulity to the breaking point.

When that bloke on the bus considers that Mr Berardino often gets work from the government he might well think, however wrongly is not the point, that Berardino might have future business on his mind. So far as I know, there is not a particle of evidence to support such a thought but the point here is that to some it might well appear to be so.

This is especially troubling as the case seems to be moving towards investigation into the government’s role in the awarding of BC Rail to CN.

The Crown Counsel Act was supposed to eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest in the appointment of Crown Counsel by having the selection left up to the deputy attorney-general, but as I have said, it does no such thing. Under our system the attorney-general is on the one hand there to advise to the Crown and on the other as a partisan politician. To suggest that a partisan Attorney-General does not discuss cases like this with the Assistant Deputy Attorney-General is a tough sell.

There is an answer to this and it comes out of the UK where they have a Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) which is completely outside the government. While it’s true that the Director must be appointed by the government, once he is appointed he can be and is independent of that government. That’s because that traditionally it has been a public service position and not political.

BC already has a way to handle these sensitive appointments – have a multi partisan committee advise the House unanimously then have the House make the appointment with that appointee responsible not to the Attorney-General or any other member of government but to the House itself. This method has been extremely successful with the Ombudsman, Auditor-General and similar offices.

Such an officer would then not have any allegiance to either the government or a law firm.

The decision of Mr Berardino to reduce his witness list, including, we’re told, Gary Collins, may well be an appropriate decision but it looks like hell which brings to mind the famous dictum of Lord Hewart inĀ  Rex v Sussex Justices; Ex parte McCarthy:

“It is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance, that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”

4 Responses to “Basi-Virk trial update”

  1. e.a.f. says:

    Justice will not be done in this case and neither will it appear to be done. If the “defendants” were older I would think the pace of the “trial” is deliberately slow so they might die of old age.
    It would appear the witnesses who have “testified” have aged incredibly because we seem to have the on set of demintia, i.e. can’t remember.
    We can only hope the voters remember all of this come the next provincial election.

  2. Will this ever be adequately dealt with by the courts? I seriously doubt it based on the footdragging and accomodations that we have seen to date. The damage to our society, reputation and pschye maybe be as bad or as worse than the deal to lease our railway.

  3. bob young says:

    this so called trial will never happen as the courts will say that justice has been delayed to long and will dismiss the case to save gordons ass, and the liberal govt. bob young

  4. Jeff Taylor says:

    I suspect that once this trial is completed, it will VERY much look like the fix was in all along. Can you say, “conflict of interest” ? Just another example of the rich and the powerful in our society having a different set of rules and access to the legal system than do the rest of us. Very scary if you ask me. And Rafe, on a personal note, keep up the great work of shining the light where ever it’s needed.

Leave a Reply