Thursday, June 25, 2009


Delete button wipes out 'transparency' in government

alled for 'thorough, complete, diligent investigation'
Province provincial affairs columnist Michael Smyth

The destruction of thousands of government e-mails in the B.C. Rail scandal is astonishing and disturbing, especially when you consider the Liberals' years of assurances about the integrity of the investigation and the need to preserve evidence.

Immediately after the cops raided the legislature in 2003 it was Premier Gordon Campbell himself who said no stone must be left unturned in the search for truth and accountability.

"There is an ongoing investigation and I've told everyone to be as open and transparent as they can about the entire situation," Campbell said, while calling for a "thorough, complete and diligent investigation in the public interest." Job 1 of any thorough investigation is the preservation of evidence. But now Campbell is the same guy shrugging off the disappearance of thousands of e-mails with a lame "we followed the law" excuse.

If that's true, then the law is an ass. The government's own rules on the preservation of e-mail records is shot through with loopholes, allowing politicians and bureaucrats to permanently delete e-mails that are "temporary" or "transitory" in nature, whatever that means.

It's precisely because those vague terms are so wide open to interpretation that the law contains specific overrides, requiring the government to preserve records that have "legal" or "evidentiary" value.

So did the government really follow its own laws when it vaporized thousands of e-mails? You can bet a gaggle of lawyers -- all working on your dime -- will now have a grand old time arguing the point in court.

But it gets more pathetic than that: It was only a few weeks before the cops raided the legislature that Campbell's own top deputy was caught deleting e-mails to prevent their release to the public.

"I delete the stuff all the time as fast as I can," Ken Dobell admitted back then, earning himself a tongue-lashing from the province's freedom of information commissioner and a promise from the government that e-mails would not be destroyed.

"E-mails are documents of record and they should be treated accordingly," cabinet minister Sandy Santori scolded Dobell.

"It's a concern to me that he may not have had the knowledge in terms of what his responsibility was with respect to those documents." Santori subsequently resigned from the Campbell cabinet -- while Campbell put Dobell in charge of reviewing evidence in the B.C. Rail investigation before it was released to the police! Sadly, there are probably people in Victoria smiling from ear to ear about all this.

Despite Campbell's lofty talk about openness and transparency and a diligent quest for justice, the government secretly hopes this whole ugly corruption case goes off the rails and never makes it to court.

Whoever pushed the delete button on all those e-mails brought that possibility one step closer to reality -- and insulted all British Columbians, who deserve to know the truth about the B.C. Rail scandal.


Suggestion: look up Michael Smyth's column in The Province today, and leave a comment. I did. I said thanks to Michael, and invited him to join us in our efforts to stop further BCRail giveaways on or before "BC Rail Day". Meantime, I thought it might be helpful to dig into the Archives here, and reprint the statement from "Three Concerned Canadians" who realized that the Campbell Gang had ample time ... before the police raided the Legislature ... to interfere with the BC Rail evidence.

- BC Mary.


Thanks for the heads-up on Michael's column, Mary. You have been keeping us all informed, as no other source has, about the trials and tribulations of this case. I also left a comment for Michael, not because I trust or regularly read the mainly useless rags of CanWest, but credit was due, in this case, as you pointed out. Now, if we could just get a few hundred thousand protesters in the streets outside of Campbell's office, we might see some movement besides the current slow swirling of corruption as it gets sucked down the toilet and washed away, as I fear this trial will eventually be.
The time has come for citizens of this province to step up to the plate and start the corrective processes in motion. Obviously the courts are not interested, they were not upset or fazed at the "news" that all pertinent emails were destroyed - rather it seems they were expecting it! It seems to me that a truly independent judiciary would have immediately placed an injunction on ALL transfers of assets three days ago. If we the people know about the waterfront clause in the agreement, you KNOW they do too.

One of my questions now is; did CN really want "BC Railway" in and of itself...or was/is their main focus the land they intend to buy for $1? How much do you think 28 miles of shoreline is worth in an area where space is an absolute premium? Millions? Hundreds of millions? Perhaps billions when they get their pinkies on it and start to develop it.

Who in government benefits from giving them the land, and do any of them receive land as payment for their betrayal of the people of BC? If so, how much land, and how much is it worth?

Inquiring minds want to know!
Leah ... extra-special thanks for your comment which was published on Michael Smyth's thread.

Which is an extra-good thing, because

Mine wasn't.

Micheal Smith and all of CanWest Global, CBC, and all of Globe/CTV need to stay on this hot and heavy - no letting up. Democracy demands it. This is a national crisis that deserves continuous front page/top story coverage. Candians deserve to know the full extent that a provincial government in Canada can delete democracy. Reporters need to consider that this is their country too. It is their duty to be reporting this as part of their active uncoerced participation in the Fourth Estate.
WTH?! Why not?

No thanks are looked for Mary, this is about fixing what's broken...we all have an obligation to help!

Special thanks to You, and Robin...without you both, we'd still be believing in the tooth fairy. :)
Mary, they did post your letter on Michael Smyth's article...I read it. Then when I refreshed to look for new comments - it was gone.

It was posted, then removed.

Can you find out why?
I just tried to have a look. The article is still up, but when I clicked in the "Comments" thing, nothing happened.

PABlum, anyone?
Leah, I decided to re-write my comment on Michael Smyth's column.

Did that. Submitted it.

Next thing: my original comment popped up!

So I guess both comments will appear. Eventually. Sigh.


My suggestion would be: keep trying. It might just be that somebody in the back shop is adding to the site, and created a momentary glitch.

That happened to me, yesterday too.

Soldier on, soldier!

Well, Mike. If Lib secrecy is so offensive to you, then why did you belly ache about NDP "attack ads" (read: just scrutiny) on that same topic? I have a copy of a column in which you heaped sugary praise on Stonewally, and spoke admirably about his availability to provide "quotes" for your symp-copy.
If the BC Liberals hadn't deleted the emails this is how a judge would rule on each email.... not some low paid clerk in the the PBA office of Jessica MacDonald: Hint ...See bold type below.....

SNIPPED from Regina


Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi, Bobby Singh Virk, and Aneal Basi

Before: The Honourable Madam Justice Bennett

Further Oral Ruling re Litigation Privilege

In Chambers
January 14, 2009

".....Tab 825: This is an email between Mr. Froess and Constable Robinson regarding Mr. Doyle's case. Litigation privilege applies and the content is not relevant to this case.

Tab 826: These are the same emails between Mr. Froess, Constable Robinson, and Sergeant Gateley. These are comments made for trial preparation, and litigation privilege applies. The comments are not relevant to the matters before the Court.

Tab 827: Tab 827 is included in 824.

Tab 828: This concerns informant privilege and will be addressed once the Supreme Court of Canada has delivered its decision.

Tab 829: This is an email exchange between Mr. Froess and Constable Robinson in relation to a correction Mr. Froess made to the call index. This is for the dominant purpose of litigation and litigation privilege applies. I would assume that counsel would have the corrected version of the call index in any event.

Tabs 830 - 831: These are subsumed in 828.

Tab 832 is in 824.

Tabs 833 - 834: These are emails from Mr. Froess checking in with Constable Robinson with respect to his progress of preparation. Litigation privilege applies and there is no relevance to the content of the document to this case.

Tabs 835 - 836: This is the same email chain between Mr. Froess and Constable Robinson. This chain relates to a discussion regarding calls in trial preparation. Litigation privilege applies. It does not appear that this information is relevant; however, I cannot completely ascertain that based on the information I have to date.

Tab 837: This email between Constable Robinson and Mr. Froess and Ms. Kliewer relate to trial preparation. Litigation privilege applies and the information contained therein is not relevant.

Tab 838: This is part of the 837 chain.

Tab 839: Tab 839 is also part of the 837 chain.

Tabs 840 - 841: These are emails between Mr. Froess, Ms. Kliewer, and Constable Robinson regarding errors in a transcript. Again, this relates to 824 and is not solely for litigation purposes but also investigative. Therefore, these emails will be released.

Tab 842: This is an email between Ms. Kliewer and Constable Robinson. Again, this relates to the transcript issue which should be disclosed.

Tab 843: This is an email from Mr. Froess to Constable Robinson. It relates to trial preparation, and litigation privilege applies. There is nothing of relevance in this email.

Tab 844: This is an email between Mr. Froess and Constable Robinson discussing trial preparation. Litigation privilege applies and there is nothing relevant in the content of this document.

Tab 845: This is an email between Mr. Froess and Sergeant Gateley and Constable Robinson regarding trial preparation. Litigation privilege applies. While the content has some marginal relevance, it is not sufficient to pierce the privilege." SNIP
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