Wednesday, May 21, 2008

 

Inquiry, courts fail accountability tests

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By Les Leyne
Times Colonist - May 21, 2008

Somewhere along the way, Frank Paul's quiet, pathetic death on a Vancouver street turned from tragedy to farce.

In the whole sad story, there's one fact to keep in mind. It took nine and a half years -- almost a decade -- before there was an independent investigation of his death.

And even the inquiry -- largely a historic exercise -- finished up last week with big holes in the story. The case veered off into an argument about whether Crown prosecutors can be compelled to testify, an issue that could add another year to the story.

The only thing to be learned is that there is very little to be learned when you wait more than nine years to look into something.

It's something to keep in mind as the B.C. Rail corruption scandal wends its fitful way through the courts. Four and a half years after the police raid on the legislature, we're still waiting for some resolution to the case. Waiting, in fact, for the case to start.

The stories are two of the worst examples of how inadequate our official processes can be when it comes to investigating problems.

Or more to the point, how easily they can be stalled when it suits certain people's interests.

{Snipetty-doo-dah!} ...

Meanwhile, that other glacier known as the B.C. Rail corruption scandal continues to inch along.

The police barged into the legislature in December 2003 looking for evidence related to possible breach of trust by ministerial aides involved in the complex B.C. Rail deal. Corruption charges were eventually laid.

But in May 2008, we still await the start of the trial. The timeline on this case is absurd. The Nuremburg War Trials took less time.

The pile of documents that various parties involved have been pushing back and forth is now said to rival the size of the Air India exhibits.

There have been long arguments about disclosure and about protocols for handling documents. They went back and forth for months about what's relevant and what's not.

The Liberals have governed for seven years and more than half the time has been spent under a huge unresolved question mark about criminal allegations related to public business.

The case now might start June 2, although there are still some side issues to argue through.

However it concludes, it's a remarkable lesson -- as is the Paul case -- in how the public's right to prompt outcomes from official inquiries can get subverted by process, process, process.

lleyne@tc.canwest.com

Read the full column at:
http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/business/story.html?id=6bb3ac14-2a40-4697-8942-707137acab68

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Good work, Les! Thank you.

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CBC's Terry Melewski was being interviewed on Newsworld today (Wed., May 21, 2008) about the gambling casinos' way of money-laundering the proceeds of crime. He said he had obtained the information from the government under a Freedom of Information request. And that it took 4 years to get that info. - BC Mary.

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Comments:
A sidebar--perhaps of interest, CN Rail has now itself in a whole lot of trouble in Chicago. Obama is taking CN on so this should be fun to watch.

Take good care of your cold.

BTW, the appearance of the Premier in Beijing this week when the country is in mourning is regarded
as extremely bad taste. Perhaps the Libs reading this could let him know.
And just how much did that gigantic display cost us? I see Annette Antoniak (formerly of the PNE) is acting as a spokesperson.
Mistress of bs.
 
I heard reported that the cost of the gigantic display cost the taxpayers 15million. Just another form of corporate welfare...kinda makes me wonder who paid for BC Ferries to sail its latest vessel over in London promoting the 2010 Olympics (can I even use this word here?)The ferry users??

Mary, I think that most citizens of BC really don't have this case on their radar at all. Part of the deliberate stalling is so time is on their side, a chance for most of us to forget about the raid and broken lies about the sale etc. At least an article now and again helps keep the issue alive.
 
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