Things aren't sitting right with the conclusion of the Basi/Virk mega trial, but racism isn't one of them.
Fraser-Nicola MP Harry Lali dropped the racism card Wednesday, saying that with all the Liberals investigated or interviewed in the BC Rail corruption scandal, it's odd the only three charged were Indo-Canadians.
Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, former Liberal ministerial aides, pleaded guilty this week to charges of breach of trust and accepting a benefit in connection with the 2003 plan to privatize B.C. Rail. Their pleas, and non-custodial sentences, followed seven years of legal proceedings. Charges were dropped against Aneal Basi.
It was a hugely expensive case for the taxpayers with $6 million paid in defence fees and no estimate provided on money paid to prosecutors.
Premier Gordon Campbell weighed in on the case Wednesday, placing full blame not only on the two convicted aides but their lawyers as well.
In an obvious attempt to distance his government from the scandal, he blasted Basi and Virk as two people who acted on their own and acted criminally. Furthermore, he criticized their lawyers for pretending that their clients were innocent when they knew they were guilty.
It's that kind of comment Lali should be focusing his remarks upon, rather than the red herring racism issue. He should question how likely it is that two lower level aides would take action all on their own to influence such an important and high-level business deal. What was their gain?
He might want to ask why the premier of a democratic government would suggest defence lawyers would act any other way than in the best interest of their clients.
Campbell, of all people, must understand the justice system enough to know how badly it would fail if defence lawyers put their mind to the guilt or innocence of their clients. That job is for the Crown to prove and the judge or jury to decide.
Lali might want to focus on why the trial ended just before the man who had been their boss was to testify. Whether former cabinet minister Gary Collins had anything damaging to say will go unknown, but these are more legitimate questions for Lali than accusations of racism.
In all likelihood, the trial ended because a deal was finally offered that Basi and Virk could not turn down. But the conclusion of the legal case does not end the questions about what really happened inside the BC Rail scandal.
When Campbell starts making ridiculous statements so unbefitting a premier, it only suggests this trial barely scraped the surface of something so corrupt it could have brought down a government.