British Columbia

B.C. NDP seeks police probe of controversial BC Rail sale

The B.C. New Democratic Party wants the RCMP to launch a criminal investigation into the sale of BC Rail and the involvement of a Liberal Party organizer.
B.C. NDP's Leonard Krog, who is running for re-election in Nanaimo next month, says police should investigate the BC Rail sale in December 2003. ((CBC))

The B.C. New Democratic Party wants the RCMP to launch a criminal investigation into the sale of BC Rail and the involvement of a Liberal Party organizer.

The NDP's Leonard Krog, who is running for re-election in Nanaimo next month, made the request on Monday in a letter sent to B.C. RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass.

At issue are what role Patrick Kinsella — a key B.C. Liberal backroom organizer in the privatization of BC Rail — played in the sale and why his consulting companies received $297,000 from the Crown corporation for undisclosed services between 2002 and 2005, according to documents released by the NDP last month.

The Liberal government sold BC Rail to Canadian National Railway in December 2003, despite campaigning on a promise in the 2001 election to keep it in government hands.

B.C. Liberals Leader Gordon Campbell callls the B.C. NDP's call for a criminal investigation a 'desperate' election strategy. ((CBC))

David Basi, who worked for former finance minister Gary Collins, and Bob Virk, an assistant to former transportation minister Judith Reid, are charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting a benefit in connection with the billion-dollar sale of BC Rail. The case has been mired in procedural disputes for several years, and the actual trial has yet to begin.

Kinsella and Canadian National Railway may have broken the law, because the company allegedly made a payment to Kinsella when he was already under contract to BC Rail, said Krog, a lawyer and Opposition attorney general critic before the legislature was dissolved.

"The issue is, was Mr. Kinsella working both sides of the track? Was CN providing a benefit to him at the same time he was obviously under contract to BC Rail? Whose interests were being protected here?" Krog said Monday.

The Criminal Code of Canada makes it an offence for anyone who has dealings with government to make a payment to a government employee unless that employee has the written consent of a senior government official to receive that payment, Krog said.

NDP strategy 'desperate'

B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell said Monday the NDP strategy to focus on BC Rail sounds "desperate."

"It's pretty sad what we're seeing, I think, right now with the Opposition — a party that used to be recognized as a party of principle with sound policy ideas, whether people agreed with them or not — becoming a party that looks pretty desperate and pretty expedient," Campbell said.

"And I think that desperation and expediency doesn't work at a time when we have to show stability. We have to have confidence in people in British Columbia."