Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Undermining the justice system

Subject: Mr Floatie etc, your TC column today

Iain Hunter:

Dung beetles are so predictable.

First, CanWest repeatedly mentions (Dickson, mainly) the possibilities under which a Chief Constable could be suspended. On a personnel matter. Not that Paul Battershill was "guilty" of any of them. But just so we know: here, here, and here again is a list of what he mighta, coulda done. Repeat. Repeat again.

Pause. Hold your fire ... then, Phase 2 begins with your column today:

Suggestions of cowardice ... of bad judgment ... of wrong decisions ... of sneakiness. Bad Battershill. Ba-a-ad.

Plus, of course: oh, ha ha, "I am only kidding."


Thanks for making me look like an astute forecaster of BC media-politics. You've said it, just right:

Paul Battershill -- I found it odd that during the police raid on the legislature Victoria's former chief constable wasn't there, standing in the shadows, as his modesty often dictated during major operations of this sort -- such as rousting unhappy people sleeping on the legislative lawns. It's entirely in keeping with that modesty that he should wish his identity kept secret. As chief, what information he had about bribery and corruption in high places would have had considerable influence on the police investigation. Or so one would think.
- Iain Hunter, June 18, 2008, Mr Floatie column in Times Colonist.

It's non-news. Intimations of darkness. Something ba-a-ad about Paul Battershill, something secret. So that if/when this man gives evidence at the Basi-Virk / BC Rail trial, many people will shake their heads and say "Bad. Ba-a-ad."

Iain Hunter, is this really smart? Clever? Witty? Helpful?

Worse: how safe do you think it is, to keep calling attention to how BAD this top cop is/was/mighta been, in your opinion?

Call me naive, but I'd like to know where Paul Battershill is, if he has responded to the "findings" of the police complaint, if the police complaint was valid or was born out of some personal animosity (somewhat like your column today), what he's doing now, and whether recognition is being given for his service to Victoria. I especially need to know if he is on the list of witnesses to be called when the BCRail Case goes to trial.

Really ... Is that too much to ask?

BC Mary
The Legislature Raids


I was beginning to feel like the psychiatrist who gets into the elevator and, seeing another psychiatrist there, says "Good Morning." When the other psychiatrist answers, "Good morning!" the first guy says to himself, "Now, I wonder what he means by that."

So, like the psychiatrist, I might have been wondering what CanWest's capital city newspaper means by producing the following editorial, at this time. The Times Colonist coulda and shoulda said this months, years ago.

In fact ... nothing has helped to detract from the judicial system more than the non-reporting and obfuscation surrounding this important legal case. So maybe the time is exactly right for CanWest to start saying it's time to straighten up and fly right. And, of course, to begin making ham-fisted jokes about the credibility of witnesses for the Crown. - BC Mary.


Times Colonist editorial - Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The B.C. Rail corruption case is undermining public confidence in the justice system. It has been four years and five months since police raided the legislature and the RCMP warned darkly of organized crime's reach. {Snip} ...

The latest delay comes because William Berardino, the special prosecutor hired by the government, is fighting to bar defence lawyers from a hearing on whether an informant in the case should be allowed to keep his or her identity secret.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett ruled the lawyers had a right to attend. Berardino took the issue to the B.C. Court of Appeal, which is considering its decision. He says he will go to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary.

The law allows the some informants' identities to be protected. Otherwise, few people would come forward with information against violent criminals, fearing reprisals.

But the protection is not absolute. If the informant played a role in the crime, for example, the defence is entitled to argue that he should be subject to cross-examination. That means defence lawyers and the court must have enough information about the informant's role to make that decision.

Berardino is arguing the Crown should not have to provide any information to the defence lawyers and that they should be barred from a hearing on whether the informant is entitled to keep his or her identity secret.

The prosecutor considers that the delays and costs in taking this to the Supreme Court are justified by the principle.

We don't. Bennett's ruling would not lift the secrecy around the informant's identity; it would simply ensure that all the issues were properly considered. The case should move forward.

This is obviously a complex case; some 300,000 pages of documents have been disclosed to the defence. But Bennett has already criticized the prosecution for slowing the progress of the case by failing to disclose documents to the defence lawyers as required.

The halting pace of these proceedings has been unfair to the defendants and the public, particularly in light of the government's refusal to answer any questions while the case remains before the courts.

The delays have already added to public concern that the criminal justice system is simply not working. The prosecutor -- and all involved -- should be working to get the case to trial.


Just a heads up Mary,

Aren't Louise Dickson and Iain Hunter husband and wife?
Hard not to wonder exactly 'what' is going on behind the scenes; could Battershill be a target because of what he knows? Or is it something entirely different that's going on here?

The lack of speculation in the media is deafening...Look at Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal - any other major city where the chief of police was forced to step down - wouldn't the press be all over the story?

What is it about BC that turns newsmen and women into ciphers? It can't JUST be who they work for.
The police over there have been doing weird things, appealing court cases the acting chief said they'd respect, spending public money to be bullies and using a police helicopter to find poor, homeless people in parks. Strange way of looking after the community.
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