Monday, July 17, 2006

Dave Basi

As many of you know, Dave Basi is my landlord and has been so since July 1 2004. I have known him since the mid 1990s. We do not agree politically - I am western populist, he is a classic Canadian Liberal. Whereas the BC Liberals were a total home for him, for me it has been an awkward fit at times. I remain very uncomfortable with the simple fact that many BC Liberals are so close to the Ottawa Liberals.

Dave and I have been friendly for years and cooperated politically, though I never took him up on his offer to become a federal Liberal. Given that at the time I was living in rural riding in BC that had almost no federal Liberals, I was courted by all the leadership camps in the late 1990s so Dave's request was only one of about a half dozen overtures made to me at the time. I will admit to supporting Keith Martin for the leadership, but that was for the Canadian Alliance and before he decamped to the federal Liberals.

On many levels I trust Dave completely. This trust comes because we are not insync politically on many issues, I spent many years wary of him but over the years a trust was built. In over 10 years of knowing him I have never known Dave Basi not be a man of his word.

Political success comes from being smart, charming and having access to the information you need. Dave is smart. Dave is a master of playing political nuances for the information he needed. And Dave is one of the most outgoing and charming people I have ever met.

From 2001 to the end of 2003 Dave and I traded information back and for that would help each one of us have a better success in what we were doing. All of it above board and quite acceptable to be talking about. As an example, I warned him when actions of government were going to cause problems politically in the interior, or Dave would help me get the meetings I needed with MLAs. This relationship allowed Dave to serve his minister and government better and in my case ensuring that the interests of rural communities and First Nations were considered in the government.

And then his offices were raided and he has been since charged with taking a bribe. The whole case seems odd to me for a number of reasons:

Why are the people claiming to have bribed him not charged with anything? No one can explain to me why not charging them would make any sense. If the crime is that they offered him a bribe, did they not instigate the alleged crime?

How did they manage to continue working in the government relations field after the investigation started?

Dave is smart, it just does not strike me as credible that if what he did accept a bribe that he would have left evidence of it.

In reading the search warrant details, I am left with a "Is that it?" feeling

Why is it taking so long for the Crown to get into court? Based on what the search warrants seem to be about, I am wondering why they could not be in court much faster? It makes me wonder if they have enough evidence to forward, or is there some other shoe to drop?

What ever happened to the orginal drug case that stumbled onto this case?

The crux of the issue seems to be that one company was being offered information in the BC Rail bidding process so that they could be successful. What information would have helped them? Given the stage the bids were at, how would Dave Basi have had access to useful information? As far as I can tell, someone else must have provided it to him when they should not have - and Bob Virk does not seem to me someone that would have had the information.

Finally, on this new ALR thing - OK this is one that I do not get at all. How could it have been beneficial for someone to pay Dave to get land out of the ALR? This is close to my day to day working world and I have offered clients advice on ALR issues. It would have never have occurred to me to think that the MA to the Minister Finance could influence any ALR decisions. This strikes as making as much sense as briding the Archbishop of Cantebury to get an annulment for a Catholic marriage - it just does not work.

How much power does an MA have? At the end of the day very little. They are the political aides of the Minister and have real control over a budget that is smaller than what my business deals with. The MA is there to give partisan political advice to the minister. They are, as Frank Magazine called them, fartcatchers.

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