Friday, March 12, 2010
BC Rail: when BC had an Opposition
Picking up where Joy MacPhail, Leader of the BC Opposition, was asking Rich Coleman, BC Solicitor General, some questions about the Legislature Raids of December 28, 2003, only 8 weeks earlier ...
Hon. R. Coleman: The member is correct: it was in December. I actually don't know the date. I'm sure I can ask and get you the date from the public record, because I'm sure that's in the public record from the Attorney General, but I was not involved in that process whatsoever.
J. MacPhail: Yes, I know. The special prosecutor was appointed in early December, and clearly, the Solicitor General is saying that the Attorney General didn't tell him anything about that. What role, if any, is then required of the Solicitor General? The Legislature was sitting while the special prosecutor was appointed. We had a special sitting to deal with ordering IWA workers back. Cabinet was meeting, the building was busy, and there'd been a special prosecutor appointed that no one knew about — no one knew about.
Hon. R. Coleman: I have the responsibility for policing, not prosecution and not courts. Frankly, a special prosecutor being appointed is not necessarily something that somebody should advise me of. I don't think anything could have been compromised by the special prosecutor having been appointed in December or whenever that took place. That would happen with regard to a file, so the police would be in a position to discuss the file and what they needed to accomplish with it with the special prosecutor as they went forward with whatever procedure relative to things like search warrants or whatever the case had to be done.
The fact that the special prosecutor was appointed is simply because that, as I understand it, is the way it's done with regard to certain types of cases where law enforcement goes to Crown and they move in this direction. I would be concerned, frankly, if people felt they had to advise me when a special prosecutor was being appointed and that I should have that person's name or have any discussions with them. Under no circumstances would I do that, simply because that is the reason to insulate a case with the special prosecutor — so no minister of the Crown has any input into the preparation of the case.
J. MacPhail: I'll go in exactly the opposite direction of the Solicitor General. I think the public should have been informed that a special prosecutor was appointed. In fact, I'm appalled that the government didn't let the public know that a special prosecutor had been appointed. I can absolutely guarantee that if the previous administrations — any previous administration — had kept the appointment of a special prosecutor secret, this member and his leader would go absolutely nuts in crying foul.
Did the special prosecutor not talk to the police, and did the police not tell the Solicitor General about…? All right. Let me put it in the positive. What, if any, communication went on between the police and the special prosecutor that the police informed the Solicitor General of?
Hon. R. Coleman: None whatsoever.
J. MacPhail: In advising the Solicitor General of the pending raids on the Legislature, the police informed the Solicitor General of none of the reasons why. Is that correct?
Hon. R. Coleman: Your question was what conversations the police had with the special prosecutor and what they advised me of. None, I said. Did they inform me of the reason for the warrants when we went to visit with the Speaker? Absolutely. Would I reveal any of the details with regard to those warrants? No.
J. MacPhail: At any point since the appointment of Mr. Berardino — I hope I'm saying his name correctly — as the special prosecutor, has the Solicitor General had any conversations with him? I'm not going to ask the nature of them, just has he had any.
Hon. R. Coleman: No, Mr. Chair.
There are a variety of interests that are involved with regard to that. They are conducting their investigation. That's what I would expect them to do. If they had an issue with regard to resources or with regard to something that needed to be done that would not jeopardize the investigation, they may come to me. Other than that, they don't put me in that position, and I don't discuss the investigation publicly to jeopardize it either.
J. MacPhail: Just to be clear, who comes to the Solicitor General? What police forces come to the Solicitor General on this matter?
Hon. R. Coleman: In this particular case, it's the RCMP.
J. MacPhail: Sorry. Is it in the case of both the aspects of the warrant — the proceeds of crime and corruption and then the other one, the summary that was just released? I don't know what summary phrase we're using for the other ones. The two separate avenues of investigation…. Are both being handled by the RCMP?
Hon. R. Coleman: My understanding is that yes, they're coordinating it. Although there are other police departments involved, they are taking the lead with regard to leading the investigation, I understand.
J. MacPhail: I would really appreciate all of the information that leads the Solicitor General to have the legal powers to do what he does.
From BC Hansard Record of Debates for March 29, 2004, afternoon sitting.
I've notice via the local newspapers that most people are unhappy, to say the least, with the BC Liberals intent to scoop close to $800 million away from ICBC, rather than using it to reduce the premiums from where the monies came from. They are simply going to roll it into General Revenue. Vaughn Palmer has called it a hidden tax because the BC Liberals told ICBC via an Order in Council to collect more monies than was required. Then, while looking into Hansard today I came across this which is the day after the voting partnership of Nettleton and MacPhail and Kwan (which is now on your blog):
I would like to first refer you to a press release dated December 19, 2003, that was issued by the Minister of Finance. It is titled "Province Increases Tobacco Tax". Within this news release the Minister of Finance announced that the tax would increase by 1.9 cents per cigarette. The increase went into effect at midnight that evening, and to date this government has collected about $6 million in that tax — that new tax.
I want to make it clear that I am not raising issue with the merit of the tax or the increase, so the heckling of other members can stop on that issue. Instead, I would argue that the minister…
For your consideration, I would refer you to the Tobacco Tax Act itself, an act that establishes that this is a tax. Section 2 of the statute clearly sets out the tax rate for cigarettes and tobacco. The rate of tax is not set by regulation. It exists as law in the Tobacco Tax Act.
To date, the Minister of Finance has not brought this change before the House. Indeed, yesterday he didn't do it. Today he didn't do it, and he's collecting millions of dollars. He has changed a statute without support from the Legislature.
Its interesting to see how the year unfolded in 2004, I didn't know it was filed in this manner:
I hope I'm only being ironic.....
Open democracy and transparent justice is one thing that this country definitely doesn't have, and sorely needs.
"Our flunkies got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They say they were reaching in because we told them to. We don't want that talked about in public, so we don't want the public to hear the facts". When asked, the politicians who should have resigned simply for appointing people caught up in this kind of trial, dodge further with "the matter is before the courts".
In the US, that's exactly why politicians are expected to come clean, and the sooner the better. In Britain, they have the dignity to simply resign, both to respect the cost to the public purse of any legal proceedings and also out of respect for the Crown.
In Canada, politicians have neither dignity nor respect. Well, none for the public interest at any rate....
How do the citizens go about forcing through the changes that will have to take place, in order to clean up the cesspool that Canada (BC in particular) has become? Where do we start?
If we can't do anything else for our grandchildren, at least let's get that fixed. Otherwise, they're at the mercy of corrupt courts and politicians, to say nothing of police forces willing to do whatever they're told.
If nothing else, the sale/theft of BC Rail has shown us just how corrupt these institutions have become...like nothing before it has ever done.