Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Bastille Day in Courtroom 66 (July 14).
and the Wrecking Process In B.C. Supreme Court.
by Robin Mathews
A visiting MLA put the whole thing into context. It's like, he said, those old movies where the pursued Bad Guys at the back of a truck dump everything out to slow down the pursuers: kegs of nails, spare tires, rolls of fencing, whatever. Except, he said, in this case they're dumping out documents - thousands upon thousands of documents.
He could have gone on to say they then argue endlessly whether the documents are 'privileged', confidential, accessible to Defence but not to the public, and on and on. (Today's courtroom game.) It looks like a wrecking process, as the delays in the BC Rail Scandal case are appearing increasingly to more and more people. The MLA might be said to have been speaking for "the people".
Remember the largest police corruption case in Ontario's history was recently thrown out because of delay - after years of on-again-off-again investigation and charges. That case was marked by a huge flood of documents that (intended?) helped bury what many believe was deep and dangerous wrong-doing. The judge pointed out that the handling of the documents (for disclosure) was inept and faulty. The judge threw out the case because of delay, blaming everyone but himself.
If there was unacceptable delay, what was the presiding judge (not) doing to let that happen? The same question may be asked of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, sitting on the Basi, Virk, and Basi case. What role does she have in the delay? Is it, fundamentally her fault? And if it is, what do we do about it?
Very Special Crown Prosecutor William Berardino probably has no connection with such brutal ideas and actions. But his recent appeal of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett's refusal to grant him in camera - and without Defence counsel present - (secret) examination of a witness who (it is alleged) might mention the name of a person alleged to be (without evidence) a confidential informant seems to me to belong to the same family of astonishing initiatives. In his argument, Berardino apparently suggested that (officers of the court) Defence counsel might not be trusted to honour confidentiality - probably as direct an insult as he could aim. But the inescapable implication - even more important as far as I am concerned, is that he was, I believe, (consciously or unconsciously) suggesting a separation of the accused and their counsel from the democratic rights our democratic vision has conferred upon them in our courts. Dangerous stuff if so.
Fortunately, the three Appeal Court judges (in a two to one decision) threw out the appeal. Except it should have been a unanimous decision arrived at much more quickly than last week.
Today the argument was over an order George Copley, counsel for the Executive Council (the Gordon Campbell cabinet), wishes the judge to make. It is an order which, in essence, says that some key documents (originating mostly in electronic form) may exist under solicitor/client privilege, may be shown to Defence counsel, but still may (by order of the judge) remain under privilege and, therefore, be denied to the general public. Defence and the Copley were able to come to terms - because as Defence narrowly argued - denying the public the material will not affect the use to which Defence puts it on behalf of their clients. I say "narrowly" because I like to think Defence should have the important interests of Canadians at heart. In this matter they seem not to realize a responsibility.
They insisted, however, that their approval of the order Copley is seeking does not in any way change their allegation that Gordon Campbell and/or his agents engaged in political interference with the privilege protocol and must answer the allegation.
And so the "experts" on the public's right to know - acting for the press and media - made the arguments of "open court". Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett was not very sympathetic to their point that giving material to Defence is, in fact, taking it out of the category of solicitor/client privilege and is, in fact, making it public. It cannot be public and not public at the same time. But we have to keep in mind that (whatever her rhetoric may be) Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett has been willing - in my repeated judgement - to show scant concern for the public's right to know, for the principle of open courts, and for the needs and interests of the larger Canadian population. I consider her altogether too 'clubby' for the good of Canadian democracy.
All of that obscured (again, in the game of delay and then delay) a primary matter. The premier and cabinet in British Columbia should be dedicated to assisting the courts in every way possible when some of their employees are accused of criminal wrong-doing. The premier and the cabinet should throw open all materials the court needs, should resign cabinet as well as solicitor/client privilege. They have not done so. They may be viewed by many as deliberately obstructing the course of justice. If many British Columbians believe that about Gordon Campbell and his cabinet, the province is in a bad situation. Indeed, it is fair to say, that if the general public comes to believe that Gordon Campbell and the cabinet are attempting to prevent the court from gaining evidence it must have to conduct a fair trial, then that general public may conclude that Gordon Campbell and the cabinet are accessories (at least) to the crimes alleged to have been committed by the accused. If the general public does come to that conclusion, then it may well assume as true that Gordon Campbell and his cabinet are engaging in criminal activity.
Beneath the surface of today's hearing, those ideas were at play. Behind the legal guiddities, quibbles, and distinctions those much deeper and disturbing themes were pushing themselves forward. They are too important to keep from view. But there is some likelihood that the major press and media will not bring them to public attention. And so I do, here.
As always, thanks a lot to Robin for his awesome efforts to excavate and illuminate these matters......(kc)
The "Bernardo" that we all think should be kept in jail for the rest of his life is Paul Bernardo
The charade of justice is now in full gear - transparent to any who take off their blinders and see the "elephant in the room".
There always comes a point in these types of games where the tactics reveal themselves through repetitive 'plays' and the strategy defeats itself.
I see a crowd of people across standing and applauding your perspective on reality, Robin . . . . now is the time for all British Columbians to stand up and be counted. We all deserve better.
And today, an FOI request reveals an email from Gary Bass to the ‘commish’ in Ottawa emoting about how great he felt after Gordon Campbell expresses such warm
'personal' support for the force shortly after the death by taser at YVR. Nice for Gary. Strange to learn though our top cops are such sensitive souls.
The man, Campbell, in fact his whole cabinet, have no idea what proper behavior constitutes; they can't distinguish the public from the private sphere and they haven't go a clue what kinds of responsibility go with the power they have as democratic representatives of the people of BC.
AS Iain Hunter said yesterday in the Times Colonist - no doubt there's a lot they want to hide in the pile of emails George Copley is sitting on.
It's time people started writing to the premier and telling him to resign...NOW.
The T/C has a number of stories again to day about the buffoons that are doing their best to sell the province, July 17th. The Globe has a story as well. wonder how the gag law will get to all the blog folks?
If I'm not mistaken, isn't this the same Gary Bass who received a call from the Solicitor General's Office in 2003 occupied then by non other than 'on the carpet Coleman' now mired in dirt . . . strongly suggesting that Gary, then RCMP Asst. D Commish, 'for -get-about it' re: pursuing the politicians in the Raid on the Leg investigation . . . . even thought the investigative team, was hot to trot to do so?
Seems the 'good ol' boy', Sol. Gen Coleman got his 'wish list' including on behalf of his bro when he slid into another Ministry . . . as the song goes: slip sliding around . .
Nothing like being part of the 'Club' . . . ya think, g west?
It was reported in 24 Hrs (http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/News/2008/07/03/6049636-sun.html) that:
"In one report Chase quotes Virk's lawyer, Kevin McCullough, as alleging there might be "a privileged relationship that seems to exist between the RCMP and the B.C. Liberals."
Might be "a privileged relationship"?!! . . . when Bass and Campbell are having such cozy conversations - when it walks and talks likes a duck . . .guess we all 'get it'.
Brian Hutchinson sums it up when he wrote his article in the National Post today : "Stink of corruption sticking to B.C. Government":
"The real source of stink is Gordon Campbell's B.C. government, now seven years old and showing serious signs of rot." (http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=662060)
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