BC Rail questions remain 7 years after raid
The B.C. New Democrats are reiterating their call for a public inquiry into the BC Rail scandal on the seventh anniversary of the stunning police raid on the provincial legislature.
Victoria police raided the offices of several cabinet ministers on Dec. 28, 2004, amid allegations that two ministerial aides — Dave Basi and Bob Virk — had accepted bribes in exchange for insider information on the sale of the Crown-owned BC Rail Corporation.
When the protracted criminal trial suddenly wrapped up in October with plea bargains from the two former government aides, it left more questions than answers, according to NDP attorney general critic Leonard Krog.
Now, seven years after the unprecedented search, the NDP has released 100 questions about the $1-billion sale, arguing getting at the truth is more pertinent than ever as the race to replace Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell gains momentum.
"It's now clear that the guilty plea by former ministerial assistants Dave Basi and Bob Virk was contingent on the decision by the government to foot the full tab for their legal fees. It has led to concerns they used $6 million in taxpayer dollars to secure a guilty plea to sweep the BC Rail corruption trial under the rug. How does the government explain that?" asked Krog, in a list of questions released by the NDP.
"The attorney general claimed that the defendants had no money to cover these costs despite evidence of property holdings that appears to contradict this claim. Can the attorney general produce documents showing that the government conducted a full review of the defendants' ability to pay in arriving at this conclusion?" he also asked.
"Can the attorney general explain the different standards applied to the legal fees owed by Basi and Virk than the approach taken by the government with respect to erroneous claims by welfare recipients, for example?"
Christy Clark flip-flopping: NDP
Krog also notes that Christy Clark, George Abbott, Kevin Falcon and Mike de Jong were all cabinet ministers at the time of the raid.
He said Clark, who is considered a frontrunner in the Liberal leadership race, was also a co-author of the B.C. Liberals' 2001 election platform, which explicitly promised not to sell BC Rail.
He said Clark called for the government to answer more questions on the BC Rail inquiry in October when she was working as a Vancouver radio talk show host, but not since she entered the leadership race.
"Christy Clark said in the fall she thought the public deserved answers, but since declaring she would like to run for a position where she would actually have the power to do just that, she's changed her tune," said Krog.
"If Christy Clark were really serious about the public's right to know, she wouldn't be flip-flopping on the need to get to the bottom of this mess just because it's less comfortable now that she's running for the premier's seat."
With files from The Canadian Press