Collins Says Hello

On two separate occasions, Finance Minister Gary Collins welcomed to the B.C. legislature's visitors' gallery a Young Liberal who was later linked to the takeover of Herb Dhaliwal's federal riding association.

Despite this, Collins told reporters on January 2 that he "honestly" did not know why supporters of then ­MP Paul Martin took over Dhaliwal's riding association in 2002 while Dhaliwal was out of the country.

On April 29, 1999, Collins welcomed Amar Bajwa, then ­president-elect of the B.C. Young Liberals, to the visitors' gallery. According to Hansard, Collins also introduced Bajwa's mother, Jaswant Bajwa, president of the India-Canada Cultural Association of British Columbia, and his brother Pawan.

Several media outlets have reported that Amar Bajwa is a friend of Collins's fired ministerial aide, David Basi, and that Bajwa was the Vancouver ­Burnaby South federal Liberal riding membership chairman who helped replace Dhaliwal's supporters with a pro ­Paul Martin slate.

On May 27, 2001, Collins again welcomed Bajwa and 11 other young B.C. Liberals to the legislature's visitors' gallery: Aneal Basi, Naveen Bains (a former B.C. Young Liberals president), Jag Bains, Perry Bhaniwal, Keleim Manji, Savik Sidhu, Nab Gill, T. J. Parhar, Bikrum Gill, Reet Bains, and Jonathan Chau.

In 2003, the B.C. Liberal government's public-affairs bureau hired Aneal Basi as a media-relations officer in the Ministry of Transportation and Highways. He did not return an e-mail from the Straight to confirm that he is David Basi's brother.

The public-affairs bureau employs a media-monitoring officer named Pavan Bajwa. Neither he nor his boss, Andy Orr, responded to e-mails asking if Pavan Bajwa is Amar Bajwa's brother.