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Opinion

'I Want Everything Released': Basi

Convicted Railgate figure says 'Who's your daddy' wiretap comment was a joke, not about procuring sex.

By Bill Tieleman 22 Feb 2011 | TheTyee.ca

Bill Tieleman is a regular Tyee contributor who writes a column on B.C. politics every Tuesday in 24 Hours newspaper. E-mail him at weststar@telus.net or visit his blog at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com.

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Robert Virk and David Basi.

"Sex is full of lies." -- Jim Morrison, The Doors

Lurid headlines suggest that sex, lies and videotape starred in the B.C. Legislature Raid case, according to selected new police evidence released by the courts last week.

But an exclusive 24 hours/The Tyee interview with David Basi -- one of two ex-B.C. government aides who pled guilty of breach of trust and fraud charges -- and a separate exclusive interview with a man Basi allegedly procured sex with a young woman for -- paints a very different picture.

The newly disclosed wiretap evidence gives a distasteful view of Basi and Bob Virk, the other ex-ministerial aide who made a surprise guilty plea last October after only two witnesses testified.

In obscenity-filled transcripts released only to B.C. Supreme Court accredited journalists, they discuss providing confidential government information on BC Rail to lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran, who represented losing bidder OmniTRAX.

But in the most widely-reported passage, Basi appears to have procured a woman to have sex with another man as part of a request to obtain "membership lists" for "my guy," as Basi puts it.

"She'll be putting out like you wouldn't believe, pal.... Let me put it this way. She is so crazy, you'll be going home tired," Basi is taped as saying, and adding later in a subsequent call: "Who's your daddy? Do I come through?"

But the man Basi is speaking to -- who agreed to an interview with 24 hours/The Tyee on the condition his name not be used because he is in public life -- says reports on the conversation are completely misleading.

And so does Basi, who says he and his friend were merely joking, in admittedly bad taste.

"There were no prostitutes procured for anyone, for gosh sakes!" an exasperated Basi told me Sunday. "How completely and utterly ridiculous this is that people can't joke on the phone."

'Let's get it all out'

Basi says the selective release of only a small portion of the millions of pages of evidence, including more than 7,000 intercepted phone conversations, is wrong.

"I want everything released, all the transcripts of the wiretaps -- not just snippets -- let's get it all out," Basi said. "I have consistently called for all documents in this case to be released and for a public inquiry, which I will fully cooperate with."

"Christy Clark and all the other B.C. Liberal leadership candidates refuse to hold a public inquiry -- what do they have to hide?" Basi asked. "That speaks for itself."

The other man on the wiretapped conversation told me he was already having a brief sexual relationship with the woman at the time of Basi's call.

"Conversations that were taped, transcribed and edited can create an impression that diverges from the reality," he said. "It was not 'procuring a prostitute.' It was a jocular conversation, albeit in poor taste."

Regardless of the situation, the wiretap transcripts of that conversation and many others appear to have no bearing on the charges Basi and Virk pled guilty to, and received a two-year house arrest sentence for.

The need for a public inquiry

Basi and Virk also had their $6 million legal fees in the marathon case paid for by government, even though they admitted guilt, a decision that stopped the trial before dozens of possible witnesses -- like Basi's boss former finance minister Gary Collins or Christy Clark -- could have testified.

Why were these pages released by police and the Crown in negotiations with CTV news and the Globe and Mail newspaper in response to their court application, and not other documents -- like those obtained by the defence that might tell another side to this important story?

We will never know what really happened in this complex and confusing case unless, as the New Democrat opposition is demanding, a public inquiry is held into the $1 billion deal in 2003 that saw publicly-owned BC Rail sold to CN Rail.

Please join my group Basi-Virk Public Inquiry on Facebook and demand accountability.  [Tyee]

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