Friday, July 18, 2008


Tangled in Argument

Courtroom 66. July 18
Basi, Virk, and Basi case.

by Robin Mathews

Nine counsel made their way into courtroom 66 to hear the wind-up of argument going on now for three days: does Madam Justice Bennett have the power to rule that cabinet documents under solicitor/client privilege may be given to Defence counsel but stay privileged - so that they are not available to the public (media).

Twelve gathered in the gallery to listen to the argument, one that was reiterated from other days, but which had a few subtle - and important - additions.

Crown and Defence argued that the matter was almost something to yawn about. Mr. Roger McConchie (for the Globe and Mail), especially, was insistent that the implications of the request for an order were serious and with implications for the future that could be very dangerous.

Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett may have been moved by the arguments of McConchie and Ludmilla Hurbst (Province - CanWest). For she reserved judgement until next Friday, July 25, at nine a.m.

After that decision time will be ripe for a consideration of the application by the Gordon Campbell cabinet through its counsel, Mr. George Copley (with the acquiescence of all Defence counsel) for a special order. And it will be time to look at the - now further delayed - proceedings (until September 19 and then 29).

William Berardino, Special Crown Prosecutor, announced (as already reported) that he would seek to take the matter he just lost in B.C. Appeals Court to the Supreme Court of Canada. Leonard Krog, Justice critic for the NDP, believes Berardino's move can delay the trial by a further year. As a result, he issued a news release on July 18 asking for Attorney General Wally Oppal to direct the Special Crown Prosecutor to drop the idea of a Supreme Court of Canada appeal, citing the Crown Counsel Act to support his demand.

As an introductory, Krog writes:

"Serious disclosure issues, the Campbell government's privilege applications and its chronic unwillingness to cooperate with the B.C. Rail investigation have plagued this trial right from the beginning. And now Berardino's latest move can further delay the trial by up to a year."

With all the delaying tactics being put into place, until after the next provincial election, and keeping in mind how quickly Gary Collins and Christie Clarke bailed out of their places, left and to the right of Gordon Campbell respectively, at the Caucus table, now would be an excellent time for a few more "defections", but from the field of Deputy Ministers.
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