Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Robin Mathews: The "Krog Affidavit Documents" and the BC Rail Scandal
Some Insights into the Basi, Virk, Basi case
Leonard Krog, NDP justice critic, tossed a small wrench into the BC Rail Scandal court hearing on February 25, 2008 (The Basi, Virk, and Basi case). Krog asked, in effect, why Gordon Campbell, B.C. premier, suddenly, unilaterally (on May 28, 2007) changed the protocol for screening requested cabinet documents from a protocol that had been in operation since at least early 2004.
He asked related questions of Allan Seckel, Deputy Attorney General - now, apparently, the decision maker about cabinet documents.
Seckel, as I have already reported, didn't say why the protocol has been changed by the Province's chief political actor - inextricably involved in the BC Rail Scandal. Instead, Seckel affected to be almost insulted at the questions, suggesting his integrity may have been impugned, that he was perhaps being accused of being "political" in the matter.
Seckel's response was, to say the least, theatrical. Reasonable people (being given no explanation whatever for the change) may fairly believe that it was a dynamically political move placing Seckel into a position as an intended instrument of political tactics.
His every move on the matter since the change may be "political" unless a crystal clear explanation can demonstrate otherwise.
As a result of Seckel's unwillingness to communicate in a civilized way, Leonard Krog made his way to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett. She agreed to release materials bearing on Krog's questions.
Four points must be made about the released documents. (1) They do not give any explanation for the change in protocol. (2) They do provide detailed information about the setting up and structure of the first protocol. (3) Many documents are included which appear to have no relation whatever to Krog's questions. (4) Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett may have placed herself in the position of a biased party in the matter, inexplicably setting the cost per page of the 250 or so pages at one dollar a page: an atrociously (and unnecessarily) high charge.
Among the 250 or so pages released, a few matters are exposed that may be of strong interest to British Columbians - especially since denial of information on public record to the public is the rule not the exception in this case.
But first, people have to remember that this is one of the most wild and strange cases in B.C. history. The three men accused were all Order-in-Council appointed cabinet aides. Over and over and over questions asked about them, their actions, evidence connected to them ALSO may connect or relate to or nearly touch the Gordon Campbell cabinet. Some may - finally - be found even to connect, culpably, to the cabinet and bring the Gordon Campbell government crashing down.
As if that isn't enough, Gordon Campbell promised not to sell BC Rail. Then he set about selling it in a way described publicly as tainted. His cabinet is accused moreover of trying to keep the terms of the sale from the members of the B.C. legislature. Finally, certain aspects of the sale are still being kept secret from the people of B.C. For those reasons, many, many British Columbians do not have any faith in Campbell government integrity on any matter, whatever, connected to the BC Rail Scandal.
Why has Allan Seckel, Deputy Attorney General, taken over the control of release of cabinet documents to Defence counsel in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case? The question has not been answered.
All of those facts cannot but colour the matters of interest I will discuss that arise in the "Krog Affidavit Documents".
As if the facts already mentioned aren't enough, the Gordon Campbell cabinet has done what is almost a repeat performance on the virtual destruction of B.C. Hydro, the misrepresented and propagandized policy accompanying sale of nearly all B.C. rivers to private corporations, and the false information consistently circulated about B.C.'s energy self-sufficiency. So much misrepresentation, misinformation, and misleading propaganda has been spread by or in relation to or in support of the Campbell policy of privatizing the rivers owned by the people of B.C. that nothing government says about rivers policy can be trusted.
An aura of untrustworthiness shadows almost every important initiative of the Gordon Campbell government. And the sale of BC Rail was an early, important initiative.
For the reasons stated, Canadians have to wonder what Gordon Campbell cabinet officials and what senior civil servants consulted with what top and other RCMP officers before the now-famous search warrant "raids" on B.C. legislature offices on December 28, 2003. Canadians have to wonder if they know all of the mutual decisions made between police and government.
Canadians have to wonder what extraordinary magic was at work - almost at the same time as a large number of boxes and computers were seized from parliamentary offices, and as other locations were being searched - to permit RCMP to state publicly and categorically that no elected person was (or would be) under investigation. Canadians have to wonder, especially, how such a tone of confidence and efficiency could have been assumed by the RCMP, which since then has unfolded a history of inept, inconsistent, disordered, and inadequate disclosure of materials called for by the Defence - almost as if part of a planned program of obstruction.
All that I've written to this point describes the "ambiance", the "surround", the "milieu", the "context" of the information that shows itself in the "Krog Affidavit Documents".
The first piece of information seems completely innocent. And it might be. But its revelation, unfortunately, is preceded by everything I have written here thus far.
On October 19, 2005, Kevin Begg of the Solicitor General's office replied to a number of people - because of a request for disclosure of notes by Defence counsel (in this case, I believe, covering discussion of the search warrant "legislature raids"). Begg informed those to whom he was replying that "I am fairly certain I did not receive any paper from the RCMP". He reports he "received verbal briefings on the case". And he "verbally briefed" the Solicitor General.
Perhaps more important, he wrote: "and I know that I did not make any notes of it due to the very sensative [sic] nature of the case and the security associated with it".
One may fairly ask, then, how much of the pre-legislature raids preparation was done verbally, without "any paper" being produced? Has any post-legislature raids consultation been carried on among RCMP, Gordon Campbell cabinet members, government bureaucrats, and others "verbally" without "any paper" being produced"? If so, how much?
On April 1, 2004, George Copley, counsel for the cabinet, wrote to persons in the Attorney General's office. On that date the BC Rail Scandal case (charges not yet laid) was still in the hands of Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm. It had not yet been passed to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett.
George Copley referred to delay in the matter. The "legislature raids" were held on December 28, 2003, and charges were not laid until nearly a full year later. Copley states that delay "is the responsibility of the RCMP". Then he goes on. "Obviously Bill Berardino [Special Crown Prosecutor] is sensitive to the matter taking so long and he asked me this morning before Court not to comment on that aspect. In his report to the Court he assured the court that the RCMP were working full time except for the spring break and that Copley would complete his review in 3 to 4 weeks".
What is clear here? All seem to agree there was delay for which the RCMP was responsible. "Bill Berardino" knew it and wanted to make no reference to the fact. Berardino, in fact, asked counsel for the Gordon Campbell cabinet not to draw attention to the delay. George Copley cooperated. The delay seems to have been weighing heavily - for Patrick Dohm, it seems, might well have noted it. But, George Copley writes, "He [Dohm] chose not to comment on the delay".
Why did Dohm "choose" not to comment on the delay? Why did the Special Crown Prosecutor want nothing said about the delay? Why did George Copley, counsel for the Gordon Campbell cabinet, go along and stay silent about the delay?
Those questions are especially pertinent, for the RCMP has given the appearance of continuing, unremitting delay in the case. The Special Crown Prosecutor has given the appearance of either attempting to negate claims of RCMP delay or to make various kinds of apology for them. Like Patrick Dohm, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett has almost consistently been unruffled by RCMP delay. On the one occasion when she appeared to have decided to end it, she did not follow through with anything like meaningful action. Her role in the endless delay - a role I judge to be key in the matter - brought me to suggest recently that she step down or be removed from the case.
All of that has been taking place while opprobrium has fallen, nationally and in B.C., upon the RCMP. That opprobrium caused a special Task Force to be struck to look into "governance and cultural change" in the Force. The Task Force reported (a few months ago), sternly reporting on serious flaws throughout the RCMP. (As I write delay heaps up in the BC Rail Scandal court processes.)
As I write a five person council has been struck to prepare a first blueprint for the restructuring of the RCMP and for the creation of a long, long, long-needed arms-length and supervisory body to assure Canadians that the RCMP is not a law unto itself doing what it wants, without meaningful scrutiny. Even while that is happening, and as I write, the Force cannot seem to rid itself of its publicly unresponsive, violent, brainless image. Headline in the Globe and Mail (April 7 08 S1/2) reads that UBC "Students accuse RCMP of 'outright lying' after 19 arrested" in an attack on protesting students on UBC campus. A witness to the arrests said police "suddenly attacked" the crowd.
On April 2, 08 the Toronto Star reported that the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, attempting to learn the truth of the RCMP intervention in the last federal election, tried to interview top officers. But "several top RCMP officials, including former commissioner Juliano Zaccardelli, refused to talk". From the top officers of the RCMP to the officers mauling UBC students on the Point Grey campus the RCMP acts - it appears - as a law unto itself.
Can we suppose it is really seeking to assure the rule of law in the BC Rail Scandal and the case arising out of it against Basi, Virk and Basi? Why should we?
A few glimmers of information that show through in the "Krog Affidavit Documents" (depending upon how they are viewed) may reveal much about the whole BC Rail Scandal and its "investigation".
Maybe that's why Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett charged a dollar a page for copies. And it just might be the case that George Copley, counsel for the Gordon Campbell cabinet, wishes she had charged a lot more.
Thank you, as always, Robin. - BC Mary.
I say, "Let the Perp Walks Begin"
(to the theme music of COPS i.e. Bad boys, bad boys etc..................)
INNOCENCE AT STAKE
Check out Hansard later. Jenny Kwan asked two specific questions about a certain document that may have innocence at stake in the ledge trial. Interesting comment regarding 5 days warning if the defence plans to use this document.
To Hades with that idea, I want the "Perry Mason" rules to apply. The defense acts by complete surprise, out of nowhere, no warning - then Gordo and cohorts are marched out of the courtroom in cuffs and we go to commercial! Madam Justice can remain behing the bench and continue beind a dis-interested/un-involved observer or filing her nails, or whatever it is that she does there.
A cynical person might say that Campbell needs those five days to set up a distraction for the media, you know, a few feel good announcements on the day of.
Regrettably, there will be no room to fit in such an insignificant little story like the BC rail trial and the devious manoeuvres of Campbell, with all that good news to report.
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