Friday, February 22, 2008

 

Premier should stay clear of B.C. Rail case

Let officials screening papers do their job

Michael Smyth
The Province - February 22, 2008

It's been over four years since the cops raided the legislature in the B.C. Rail corruption probe, and still the criminal case against three government insiders is snaking slowly through the courts.

One of the holdups in the potentially explosive case has been the reluctance of the Gordon Campbell government to release secret B.C. Rail documents to defence lawyers.

One crucial e-mail, for example, could potentially decide the outcome of the whole trial, according to Justice Elizabeth Bennett. But the government is fighting to keep that e-mail secret, citing solicitor-client privilege. {Snip} ...

Two senior bureaucrats from Campbell's office -- Joy Illington and, later, Elizabeth MacMillan -- were assigned the task. But that changed last year over concerns the process looked too cozy.

"There was a concern . . . as this appeared to be getting a political life to it, that it would be prudent to not have the premier's office involved in any way in these decisions," deputy attorney-general Allan Seckel told me yesterday.

Seckel said the premier assigned him to take over reviewing the secret evidence.

"It was to avoid any appearance that, because the decision-maker was so close to the premier . . . there might be some political interference -- even though there was none," Seckel said.

"I've been told that they [Illington and MacMillan] never asked a politician about any document."

It was certainly a good decision to move responsibility for reviewing evidence in this scandal out of the premier's office. But I'm frankly amazed anyone on Campbell's staff was involved in this in the first place.

Campbell insisted he has had no personal involvement in the case.

"We have taken every step we can so that there is no political interference," he told me.

But Campbell surprised me when he revealed he recently talked to Seckel about how the case was proceeding.

"It is interesting to know what's taking place on occasion," Campbell told me. "I asked [Seckel] within the last couple of weeks, 'What's going on?' He said, 'The judge has got all the documents. The judge is making the choices. That's what's happening.' I said, 'Fine.'"

Seckel confirmed that he had a "60-second" conversation with Campbell about the case, but insisted he has acted independently when it comes to reviewing potential evidence.

"We were going into a meeting and he said something about, 'How's it going?' And I said something to the effect of, 'Don't believe everything you read in the papers.' Then he said, 'Well, when this is all over, you can tell me about that.'

"I've never had a single conversation with the premier about any documents."

I have no reason to doubt that, but here's the bottom line: Officials in Campbell's office should never have been anywhere near this case. And Campbell should stop talking to Seckel about it.

The interest of justice demands it.

msmyth@direct.ca

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Comments:
Amazed?

Michael, where in God's green earth (aka the 'Best Place in the World') have you been?

The involvement of the Premier and the Premier's office in this case has been clear to anyone with even the slightest understanding of the way this government 'does' business.

It was clear from the first days of this government's existence, when the Premier's Office - in the person of Martyn Brown - advised all new cabinet members that they would have NO INPUT into the selection of their deputies and key staff. This is CEO government and ALL, repeat all, the important decisions are made on Gordon Campbell’s desk.

The Premier's footprints - not just his fingerprints - are all over this file. The only question is why you gentlemen and ladies of the working press have not been all over this man from the beginning. You ought to be ashamed.

What's wrong with you - has he got something on every one of you?

The press been derelict in investigating this story, asking none of the hard questions that should have been asked from the very start. The press has approached this matter with exactly the same kind of hand’s off attitude it has used to deal with every unfulfilled promise and fudged contract since 2001.
Every time anyone has 'suggested' that the government is hiding the Cabinet's role in this whole fraudulent deal - because that's what it was Michael - a fraud on the people of this province - the press has downplayed its minimal coverage by tying it to something that "happened" years ago during another administration.

Welcome to the real world.

Welcome to now.

Now why don't you get going and do some actual investigative journalism and stop making excuses for Gordon Campbell?

There have been people playing hardball on this issue - how come all of them work for Gordon Campbell and none for the professional press?
 
"The press been derelict in investigating this story, asking none of the hard questions that should have been asked from the very start. The press has approached this matter with exactly the same kind of hand’s off attitude it has used to deal with every unfulfilled promise and fudged contract since 2001."


Well said, G West, I hope you send a copy of this to MS, in case he doesn't stop by here.
 
Could the silence of the press be due to gag orders and bans? A few months ago I was reading the court registry/doc's and after the BC trial,was e-pandora! aka hells angels??? Which has had sweeping orgers in place! I believe there is a connection.The vicitms need to be represented because where there is crime, there are victims!I'm just wondering if the delay in justice/justice be denied, because the vicitms are none the wiser?! 2002 british authorities informed Vanc. police about a fraudulent web site coming out of Vancouver.The owner of the site,a woman from East Vanc.,was reported to be seen driving a burgandy mercedes...sgt.John Ward,the BC leg raid: o/c, police corrurption, terrorism and (biggist criminal organisation in Canada),the LIBERALS!!!
 
I thought that the Premier and other members don't comment on a case that is before the courts?

I hope that the NDP follow up on this one and don't let the Premier off the hook.
 
Gotta love how Mr. Smyth takes the 'cabinet' privilege bait hook, line and sinker.

(ie. does Mr. Smyth even know about the solictor-client privilege kicker that Mr. Campbell went out of his way to bury with a full-frontal cabinet privilege spin in the Ledge last May?)

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