The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
ORDERS OF THE DAY — Continued
No. 39 — Thursday, June 2, 2011 — 1.30 p.m.
1 Mr. Krog to ask the Hon. Attorney General the following questions:
1. It is 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, and this has led to a concern 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?
2. Why did the BC Liberal government try to hide this information for a week?
3. The Attorney General originally stated that the decision to let Basi and Virk off the hook for their legal costs was made by him based on a recommendation made by his Deputy Minister — but later noted he had nothing to do with the decision. Why did the Attorney General issue contradictory statements and which one is the correct version? What evidence can the Attorney General provide to support that claim?
4. We have been told that taxpayers are on the hook for millions of dollars for Basi and Virk’s legal fees — what is the exact final total? Will the government release the amount paid for legal services provided by the Special Prosecutor’s office? What is the final total of the entire trial?
5. Has any such deal ever been struck before for civil servants who plead guilty for breaching public trust, and committing fraud? Can the government provide a single example of this kind?
6. This plea bargain agreement with Basi and Virk now sets a precedent for all future and current government staff. Did the government consider the precedent set by this decision?
7. 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?
8. 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?
9. Will the BC Liberals provide full disclosure into the details of the indemnification deal, and release all materials relating to the plea bargain?
10. The guilty plea statement by Basi and Virk — a plea that we now know came in direct response to the government’s commitment to cover all legal costs — indicates that the two BC Liberal assistants acted without the knowledge or consent of BC Rail and the Evaluation Committee. The statement does not, notably, state that Basi and Virk acted without the knowledge or consent of their ministers Gary Collins and Judith Reid — why not?
11. The plea statement only states that Basi and Virk “did not obtain the consent of their superiors to demand or accept these personal benefits”. Does this statement mean that while Basi and Virk did not obtain permission to accept bribes, they could have received instructions or encouragement by someone in the BC Liberal government to strategically leak confidential BC Rail bid information?
12. Without evidence to the contrary, the plea statement suggests that in fact the two former BC Liberal ministers were aware of and consented to the actions pursued by their assistants. This entirely contradicts the Premier’s claim that the two staffers acted alone. What evidence can the government provide to prove the Premier’s statement the two staffers acted alone is not entirely false?
13. Which senior BC Liberal officials were involved in the sale of BC Rail and what evidence will now not be heard from key BC Liberal officials that were set to appear on the witness stand on the eve of this plea bargain?
14. What information would the public have learned about the role played by Basi’s boss, former Finance Minister Gary Collins and Virk’s boss former Transportation Minister Judith Reid?
15. What information would the public have learned about the role played by Premier Gordon Campbell, whose chief of staff during both the BC Rail sale and the raid on the Legislature, Martyn Brown, had already been called as a witness? What did Premier Campbell know and when did he know it?
16. Why did BC Rail pay $300,000 to the Premier’s friend, Patrick Kinsella? What instruction did the Premier, through Martyn Brown, receive to “give support to Patrick Kinsella and CN Rail”?
17. Questions have been raised about the role of Patrick Kinsella, the Premier’s chief of staff and the Premier himself in assisting in the sell-off of BC Rail. When will the public be provided an explanation on that?
18. Will the government release publicly all material in the possession of BC Rail or the government relating to the work performed by Patrick Kinsella while under contract to BC Rail?
19. Did Paul Taylor, the Premier’s new Chief of Staff, play a role in the alleged leak of bid information to Pilothouse Public Affairs Group?
20. The plea statement indicates that Basi and Virk improperly disclosed documents to Pilothouse including bid values for CN, CP and OmniTRAX and that Pilothouse principal Brian Kieran recorded these numbers which then were included in a Pilothouse briefing document to OmniTRAX. Was Pilothouse tapping anyone else in government besides Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk for confidential government information?
21. Pilothouse partner Eric Bornman — who was given an immunity agreement by the Crown in exchange for information on Basi and Virk — has reapplied to the Ontario bar. How can the public be assured that all the parties that played a role in the tainted BC Rail privatization deal have been appropriately dealt with?
22. Why did key BC Liberal cabinet ministers like Gary Collins, Judith Reid and Christy Clark all leave government in the wake of the scandal?
23. Will the government release the list of all the legal costs provided to government officials including former ministers Gary Collins, Judith Reid and Christy Clark?
24. What was the role played by current sitting cabinet ministers and possible leadership candidates such as Rich Coleman and Kevin Falcon?
25. After legislative officers were raided in December 2003, it became clear the focus of the investigation was on the BC Rail deal, but the BC Liberal government went ahead with the sale saying there weren’t grounds for concern because no elected officials were under investigation. However the proposed sale of a BC Rail subdivision was then cancelled when government officials learned the accused might have leaked confidential information about that deal. This contradiction — why one sale was considered tainted, but the other not — has never been fully explained by the government, nor was it explored in court. Why was the spur line sale cancelled but not the sale of BC Rail sale? What evidence can the government provide to support their decision to push ahead with the sale of BC Rail?
26. For years the BC Liberals have refused to answer questions that the deal was tainted. Now it appears that his government actually tampered with the fairness adviser’s report to save their political hide. Will the BC Liberals finally admit that their government violated the public trust in the BC Rail sell-off?
27. What other testimony about the unprecedented raid on the Legislature and the corrupted BC Rail sale will go unanswered with the BC Liberal government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry?
28. Will the BC Liberals release publicly all evidence pertaining to the trial including evidence provided to the defence through the disclosure process?
29. In the absence of a public inquiry, will the government commit today to preserving all the documents involved in the Basi-Virk case and the BC Rail corruption scandal until the House is called back for a full legislative session?
30. Can the government commit today to a public inquiry that will examine the indemnification deal and the reasons why the government made the decision to cover all legal costs for Basi and Virk?
31. Will the government hold a public inquiry into the sell-off of BC Rail as soon as the criminal proceedings conclude so that B.C. taxpayers can finally get the answers they deserve?
32. When did the government first learn that the BC Rail deal was the target of an in-depth RCMP investigation?
33. When will the government release all documents — including documents which may not be directly linked to the charges — that relate to government policies or decisions regarding BC Rail?
34. Has the investigation into the sale of BC Rail uncovered evidence that other government policies or decisions may have been illegally or inappropriately affected? If yes, will the government release all such documents — including documents which may not be directly related to the charges?
35. Did the BC Rail Steering Committee discuss the potential for the BC Rail deal to collapse if only one bidder remained in the bidding process?
36. Will the government release all minutes for meetings of the BC Rail Steering Committee?
37. Will the government release all documents produced for the BC Rail Steering Committee?
38. Did members of the Steering Committee or other members of the government caucus meet with or communicate with any of the proponents or their representatives during the process to sell BC Rail?
39. Did the Premier or any of his staff meet with or communicate with any of the proponents or their representatives during the process to sell BC Rail?
40. Can the government explain why then-Solicitor General Rich Coleman briefed the Premier before the search warrants were executed?
41. Can the government explain why then-Solicitor General Rich Coleman briefed the Premier’s Chief of Staff Martyn Brown immediately after the warrants were executed and before alerting the public?
42. Why was Martyn Brown given the go-ahead to fire Dave Basi immediately, prior to any charges being laid?
43. How can the government defend the propriety of the Solicitor General’s actions against the charge that in briefing the Premier and his top political staffer, this government put its political interests ahead of the public interest?
44. Why was provincial government staff allowed to organize for the federal Liberals in the Legislature using taxpayer resources?
45. What steps did the Premier take to ensure that the BC Liberal Party did not benefit from illegal activities by staff?
46. Will the government release the tapes and/or transcripts of phone conversations between the Premier and government ministers that were gathered during the criminal investigation into the sale of BC Rail?
47. Given the government’s own forecasts for significant coal mining activity, why were projections based on coal export growth deliberately left out of revenue calculations for the BC Rail line?
48. Did the government consider cancelling the sale of the BC Rail freight division?
49. Will the government release any and all correspondence with the RCMP and BC Rail about rescinding the sale of the BC Rail freight division?
50. If the government considered cancelling the sale of the BC Rail’s freight division, was compensation considered for any proponents?
51. What discussions took place concerning the issue of whether CN Rail had paid too much or too little for the BC Rail freight division?
52. What was the estimated value of former BC Rail assets in 2003, before they were sold? What is the estimated value of those former BC Rail assets now?
53. Did CP Rail express concerns about the clear breach of fairness in the process to sell BC Rail prior to their letter of Nov. 21, 2003?
54. Did the government — including any and all government ministers, the BC Rail steering committee, the government caucus and/or its advisors or technical specialists — ever discuss the consequences of OmniTRAX dropping out of the bidding process prior to or following the withdrawal of CP Rail?
55. Did the government consider the potential consequences of a small number of proponents or a single proponent during the sale of BC Rail for its goal of “maximizing value to the province”?
56. Did the government consider the potential negative political ramifications of a small number of proponents or a single proponent during the sale of BC Rail?
57. What was discussed at the Dec. 12, 2003, meeting held at Vancouver restaurant Villa del Lupo between the Minister of Finance and senior executives from OmniTRAX, the second-place finisher in the bidding process for the government-owned BC Rail?
58. Will the government ensure that tapes and transcripts resulting from the surveillance of the Minister of Finance’s meeting with OmniTRAX officials are made public?
59. Did the Minister of Finance meet with other proponents during the transaction process?
60. Was it the Minister of Finance who ordered confidential government information to be leaked to a lobby firm representing OmniTRAX?
61. If it was not the Minister of Finance who ordered confidential government information to be leaked to a lobby firm representing OmniTRAX, was the Premier’s Office or any other government official responsible for this order?
62. Will the government release the “meeting minutes, presentations and other documents” referred to in the Charles River Associates report on the BC Rail bidding process?
63. Did Charles River Associates review meetings, conversations or communications outside the official process — particularly those including ministers and ministerial aides — in their analysis of the fairness of the BC Rail transaction process?
64. Will the government release all documents including emails, reports, interview transcripts relating to the two information leaks referenced in the Charles River Associates report?
65. Can the government provide concrete evidence for their claim that the information leaks referenced in the Charles River Associates report did not materially affect the sale of BC Rail?
66. Will the government provide the full list of files and issues in the purview of or involving David Basi, Aneal Basi and Bob Virk between June 2001 and December 2003?
67. Did the government order an internal investigation into every file that Mr. Basi touched while he worked as a top political aide to the Minister of Finance — and if not, why not?
68. Did the government order an internal investigation into every file that Mr. Virk touched while he worked as a top political aide to the Minister of Transportation — and if not, why not?
69. Will the government provide an explanation as to why Dave Basi was fired immediately — prior to any charges — while Bob Virk was only suspended?
70. Can the government provide assurances and evidence of the statement made by the then-Finance Minister in December 2003 that Dave Basi “was not involved in the budget process, never has been” and “was not involved in the drafting of legislation or policy development.”
71. Will the government conduct a review of every decision made to remove land from the ALR while Mr. Basi worked in the Campbell administration?
72. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities and files that involved Dave Basi and/or Bob Virk and the principals and staff of Pilothouse Public Affairs?
73. Is the government aware of any other potential or ongoing investigations that involve Basi, Virk, or Pilothouse and any other minister, ministry or public body — and if so, what are they?
74. Will the government provide a full enumeration of the roles played in this investigation — or any other related investigation — by Mark Marissen, husband of then-Deputy Premier Christy Clark, and Bruce Clark, the brother of the then-Deputy Premier?
75. What materials did the Special Prosecutor withhold from the defence that were the subject of the February 27, 2007 defence application?
76. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities associated with Pilothouse Public Affairs?
77. Will the government provide a full enumeration of all government activities associated with K&E Public Affairs?
78. Why did the government allow Erik Bornman of Pilothouse Public Affairs to continue his lobbying activities after he had informed Bill Berardino that he had bribed Dave Basi?
79. Why did the government allow Brian Kieran of Pilothouse Public Affairs to continue his lobbying activities after he had informed the RCMP that he had tried to bribe Dave Basi?
80. Can the government assure British Columbians that lobbyists Erik Bornman and Brian Kieran no longer have access to senior government staff?
81. Why did the BC Liberal Party continue to accept money in 2004 from lobbyists named in the original warrants, long after the raids on the Legislature?
82. Why won’t the BC Liberal government allow an all-party review of the Lobbyists Registration Act in order to have greater accountability over who is influencing government and how?
83. When did the Attorney General and Premier first become aware that the lead RCMP inspector was the brother-in-law of Kelly Reichart, Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party?
84. How did Kelly Reichart learn that Erik Bornman had been granted immunity in exchange for providing information about David Basi and Bob Virk?
85. When did the Attorney General and Premier first become aware that information related to the investigation was leaked to Kelly Reichart and was subsequently leaked by Mr. Reichart to principals in the investigation?
86. Does the Attorney General agree that the actions of Mr. Reichart risked compromising the investigation?
87. Why does Mr. Reichart continue to serve as the Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party?
88. Given that one of the government’s objectives for the BC Rail transaction was “ensuring integrated North American access to preferred markets and carriers for interline rail shipments”, why would the government attempt to sell the Roberts Bank Spur line separately, following the withdrawal of CP Rail?
89. Is it true that in November 2003, Dave Basi advised OmniTRAX that the then-Minister of Finance had authorized a consolation prize OmniTRAX in exchange for that company staying in the bidding process?
90. Was this consolation prize the BC Rail Spur line?
91. How much was the consolation prize valued at?
92. Was OmniTRAX offered any Delta ALR lands for expansion of the port as part of this consolation prize?
93. If it were not for the alleged criminal actions of high-ranking aides, would the government have proceeded with the sale of the BC Rail spur line?
94. Does $900,000 represent the total cost to taxpayers of cancelling the sale of the spur line, or did the final tab come in even higher than that? What was the final tab?
95. What was the estimated value of the spur line in 2004, when the sale was put on hold?
96. What was the estimated value of the spur line when the sale was totally cancelled in February 2006?
97. What is the estimated value of the spur line now?
98. Why won’t the government exercise its rights under article 10.2 of the Revitalization Agreement to inspect all of CN’s maintenance records for the former BC Rail line?
99. When will the government investigate the rash of tragic derailments since 2004 in order to shed light on this safety scandal?
100. Why has the government refused to provide evidence for its claim that the government discussed safety and maintenance with the proponents during the negotiations to sell BC Rail?
2 Mr. B. Simpson to ask the Hon. Minister of Energy and Mines the following questions:
1. When the greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing, processing and later combusting unconventional gas are considered, how “green” is this energy source compared to other fossil fuels?
2. In the face of historic low prices for natural gas, should B.C. be accelerating the extraction of this resource through provincial subsidies to the industry?
3. If unconventional gas extraction continues in British Columbia should:
• a fair market price be placed on water utilized for this purpose?
• the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing be more regulated and publicly reported?
• the structure of the energy industry regulator – the Oil and Gas Commission – be changed to better address and monitor the industry’s cumulative impacts on public health and safety, water and land resources, and climate?
• the regulations governing the sector be more prescriptive to ensure public health and the environment are protected?
4. Are government, the OGC, and industry meeting their legal requirements to consult with First Nations and the spirit and intent of the New Relationship with respect to joint decision-making and revenue sharing?
Unconventional Gas – Impacts on Climate and Energy Security
5. What are the total greenhouse gas emissions associated with the extraction and processing of unconventional gas?
6. What may be the additional greenhouse gas emissions associated with more advanced treatment or conversion of natural gas to products such as liquid fuels (diesel, naphtha and propane) or liquid natural gas?
7. Can British Columbia meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets when anticipated unconventional gas development is fully accounted for? If this is not achievable at present, what changes to the way development occurs, and the scale of development, would have to happen to enable B.C. to meet its targets? What public policy approaches could B.C. employ to allow those changes to happen?
8. From a domestic energy security perspective, how much natural gas should B.C. be exporting and over what time period?
9. What revenue streams should British Columbians and First Nations reasonably expect to see from increased unconventional gas production in the province?
3 Ms. Huntington to ask the Hon. Minister of Energy and Mines the following questions:
Unconventional Gas – Impacts on Public Health and Safety
1. Can hydraulic fracturing of gas-bearing shale formations result in groundwater and surface water contamination – waters that may also be drinking water sources? What can be done to reduce such outcomes?
2. In jurisdictions that use multi-well hydraulic fracturing techniques is there evidence of uncontrolled gas leaks? What are the consequences and can the risk of such outcomes be reduced?
3. At what proximity to human settlement may hydraulically fractured gas wells pose an unnecessary risk?
4. What risks are there when contaminants move between hydraulically fractured gas wells in events known as “communications” or “kicks”? At what point may gas wells exceed densities that place human health and public safety at unnecessary risk?
5. Do the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations pose a public health and safety risk? Should they be publicly disclosed?
6. What are the health impacts associated with chronic exposures to low levels of sweet gas and sour gas? What must the province do to eliminate fugitive emissions and reduce flaring to an absolute minimum?
7. What plans does the Oil and Gas Commission have to work with public health officials and the local communities to ensure that industry developments are located and staged in a manner that poses the least risk to human populations?
8. What plans are there to project forward the number of unconventional gas wells that may be drilled in the province and to ensure that the cumulative development of wells does not endanger the health and safety of the general public and First Nations communities or the environment?
Unconventional Gas – Impacts on Water and Land
9. How many unconventional gas wells are projected in British Columbia?
10. What will the associated water demand be?
11. What water conservation policies are presently in place?
12. What regulations and market measures, such as water pricing, might be sound public policy choices to maximize water conservation by the industry?
13. What role does the Oil and Gas Commission play in assigning water rights to the gas industry? What role do provincial water stewardship officials with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations play in assigning such rights? How do both agencies cooperate to ensure that: all water assignments are known, the actual water used by the industry is tracked, all wastewater produced by the industry is accounted for and its disposal methods and disposal sites are approved?
14. What cumulative impact assessments are there to ensure that industry water use is sustainable and poses no threat to watersheds? (Areas in northeast B.C. have already been identified by the provincial Forest Practices Board as being heavily impacted by a combination of oil and gas industry, forestry and cattle-grazing activities.)
15. Will the Water Act Modernization process ensure sustainable water use in the shale gas industry?
16. Under what circumstances may industry water applications be subject to an environmental assessment process? Should water applications exceeding a certain threshold be subject to such assessments?
17. Can unconventional gas developments be staged to reduce environmental impacts on lands and waters?
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