B.C. premier says former aides acted alone
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell says two former government aides are criminals who acted alone in connection to the sale of BC Rail.
Dave Basi and Bobby Virk -- former ministerial aides to the finance and transport ministers -- pleaded guilty to charges of breach of trust and accepting a benefit and were given two years house arrest.
Campbell rejected calls Tuesday for a public inquiry into the matter, saying the case has already cost too much money and has proven that two corrupt political appointees were at fault.
"A public inquiry would cost millions of dollars," said Campbell. "The public has already put millions of dollars into this."
After Monday's guilty plea, B.C. Attorney General Mike de Jong said he approved a Legal Services' decision to absorb $6 million in legal costs for the two men. De Jong said Legal Services had decided the men no longer had the ability to pay.
Basi and Virk admitted they traded secrets on the bidding process for the sale of the railway for cash and a trip, and Campbell said their prosecution was completely independent from government.
"They breached their code of conduct," said a heated Campbell. "They breached their public trust. They accepted personal benefits without anybody knowing it. They acted criminally."
Campbell said Basi and Virk were not major policy players in government when they committed their crimes.
He rejected comments by Basi that his family has been forced to endure the seeming endless legal process.
"When I hear them concerned about the impacts of this on their families, there are only two individuals who had impact on their families, that was Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk," Campbell said. "They knew they were guilty. They dragged their families through this for seven years."
Campbell also rejected Opposition critics claims that the government's sale of Crown-owned BC Rail in 2003 for $1 billion was not good for British Columbia.
He says the railway deal has saved taxpayers millions of dollars and two provincial elections have been held since the sale, giving voters ample opportunities to change governments.
"We've had two different times where people could judge the government's decision to move on BC Rail and we've been re-elected," said Campbell.
Basi and Virk admitted to helping OmniTrax, one of the bidders for the railway, by handing over secret documents and other confidential information around the sale of the railway.
CN Rail won the bid process in the fall of 2003. Just months later RCMP raided the B.C. legislature and carried out stacks of boxes as evidence in what ended up being a seven-year court process.