Sunday, March 08, 2009

Hitching the wagon to corruption trivia

Since 2003 I have been waiting for the full story on a pair of British Columbian ministerial assistants arrested in a raid on the province’s legislature. The charges included money laundering and bribery corruption in relation to the secret sale of British Columbia Rail (BCR).

Documents released this week by a judge in a political corruption trial trace the government's route from staunch denial to talks with bidders and then a media strategy on how to sell privatization to the public… Campbell haunted by BC Rail deal

I really have to agree with this comment:

It's trivia. Politically titillating, yes. Entertaining, certainly. But relative to the case itself, it's just trivia on a grand scale. …case buried in political trivia

Dave Basi and Bobby Virk were probably up to their ears in the corruption, but remain the scapegoats in a bigger picture and the exposed corruption is now incredibly commonplace. Selling off public assets is never popular, but hardly ever a government losing proposition, but this sale had all the conspiracy mix that is now so popular with our elected representatives.

Try this lot:

While the Premier, Gordon Campbell, was claiming there were no plans to sell potential buyers were being sought and briefed.

Among the major ‘bidders’ were Canadian National (CN), Canadian Pacific (CP), Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp and OmniTRAX,

The process wasn’t a level playing field and CP and the U.S. bidders fed only those parts which suited the government.

In fact they all complained because CN alone had been given an opportunity to meet with BC Rail shippers, gaining valuable knowledge about rates that other bidders didn't have.

While the sale was being denied Campbell’s communications bureaucrats were busy crafting a message and media delivery system designed to mitigate fallout from the final result. Basi and Virk were doubtless players in the game, but the game so far is just your garden variety corruption.

Now once upon a time you looked beyond a sex scandal to find the real corruption. Now, increasingly, the corruption is just a trivial distraction from drug trafficking. Here again, through Basi we meet Jasmohan Singh Bains, the 33-year-old would-be Mr. Big of the Vancouver Island drug world.

This becomes significant when we consider just how big the BC illicit drug trade really is. From the smoko (and don’t think trains) BC Bud is the North American marijuana of choice. I know in Australia there are regular interceptions of illicit chemicals, from the making through to product, intercepted on their way to Australia. God knows what gets across the border.

Sadly, its doubtful even these revelations will make an impression of the Campbell Governments electoral fortunes. Conservatives seem to walk under the scandal bar with impunity.

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