The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

The Day the Mounties Raided the Legislature

Mystery still shrouds BC Rail scandal. Latest in our political history series.

By Tom Hawthorn 9 May 2013 |

Veteran political reporter Tom Hawthorn is writing about B.C. political history for The Tyee. Find his previous stories here.

image atom
Illustration by Jessie Donaldson.

[Editor's note: This is the eighteenth in our "Some Honourable Members" series, depicting the more dubious moments in B.C.'s political history, brought to you by veteran muckrakers Tom Barrett and Tom Hawthorn, one a day until election day.]

It was an extraordinary sight -- uniformed policemen carting box after box of files from the B.C. Legislature.

On Dec. 28, 2003, police searched several offices at the Ledge. The raid was the first public revelation of a scandal that would be the longest-running in provincial history and one which seems as yet unresolved.

An RCMP drug investigation, called Project Everywhichway, stumbled across evidence calling into question the propriety of the sale of BC Rail by Gordon Campbell's BC Liberal government.

Several legislature offices were searched for evidence of bribery and influence peddling in the $1-billion sale of a railway which had been owned by the provincial government since 1918.

The case would result in criminal charges being laid against ministerial aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk, who had connections with leading provincial and federal Liberals. Among these were Bruce Clark, a federal Liberal fundraiser and brother of Christy Clark, the current premier, and Mark Marissen, her husband at the time. Both men were visited by police, though neither was charged.

More than six years would pass after the raid before Basi and Virk went to trial. The Crown alleged the aides had leaked information to one of three bidders. The two men, who had insisted on their innocence through lengthy pretrial proceedings, unexpectedly entered guilty pleas to fraud and breach-of-trust charges in 2010. They were sentenced to house arrest and community service.

At the same time, the BC Liberal government picked up the aides' $6-million tab for legal fees, even though guilty pleas should have meant taxpayers were off the hook.

The government has never explained why the legal bills were covered by the public purse. Earlier this year, a judge cited solicitor-client privilege in dismissing an application by the provincial auditor general to see documents related to the $6-million payment.

The scandal began as a broken election promise, as Campbell had campaigned saying he would not privatize the railway, only to begin the process soon after winning office in the 2001 landslide election. The case leaves many unanswered questions, not the least of which is the role played by Patrick Kinsella, a quintessential insider and lobbyist whom the Globe and Mail once described as "Mr. Fixit." Within months after co-chairing Campbell's successful 2001 campaign, Kinsella was paid about $200,000 from BC Rail to provide services. Kinsella, a Campbell confidante, also had contacts with CN Rail, though the exact nature of his relationship remains unknown. CN Rail bought the bulk of BC Rail's assets.

The NDP election platform budgets $10 million for a two-year public inquiry into the scandal.

Though the commercial media, especially the Globe and the Vancouver Sun, offered voluminous coverage, the appetite for more information remained unsated. The long-running scandal will be remembered as one in which the public furthered debate and pursued lines of inquiry through online postings. Among the most prominent of these were Bill Tieleman, a political commentator and strategist with ties to the NDP, and the late Mary Mackie, writing under the pseudonym BC Mary.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Coverage Would You Like to See More of This Year?

Take this week's poll