Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Basi Virk: Justice Anne MacKenzie has indicated she is not prepared to find out why thousands of e-mails related to B.C. Rail sale have disappeared*
Will FOI revisions prevent more 'lost' e-mail?
B.C. needs legislation that requires government to retain documents
BY VINCENT GOGOLEK
Special to Times Colonist - October 28, 2009
It's looking less and less likely that the Basi-Virk corruption trial will get to the bottom of what happened to the years of e-mail records related to the sale of B.C. Rail.
Justice Anne MacKenzie has indicated she is not prepared to find out why thousands of e-mails related to the B.C. Rail sale have disappeared despite court orders to present them as potential evidence.
Society has a strong interest in making sure accused persons receive a fair trial.
MacKenzie might well be right in saying that the law does not demand perfect justice, but only fundamentally fair justice.
However, society also has a strong interest in government accountability.
In this instance, it seems like the illegal or incompetent records management of the B.C. government has worked to its advantage. The government claims the cost to retrieve documents related to one of the most controversial sales of a public asset in recent history would be too high. If the judge accepts this, the story of what happened to those records and how they got lost or destroyed might never be known.
It shouldn't be this way.
There are laws and rules in place that govern the handling of anything a government official writes down in whatever format. The province's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Interpretation Act both define a "record" as any and all recorded information, including all information stored electronically.
The Document Disposal Act governs the destruction of government records and states: "[A] document must not be destroyed except on the written recommendation of the Public Documents Committee."
This means that regardless of the format -- paper or electronic -- no record can be destroyed without what's referred to as an "approved records retention and disposal schedule." There certainly does not appear to be any such schedule in the case of the B.C. Rail e-mails.
This situation can't be allowed to continue. We are far behind other jurisdictions in Canada when it comes to maintaining vital public records.
We don't have legislation that requires government officials to document their decisions, retain and archive important records and make information more openly and generally available.
B.C.'s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act doesn't cover any of these areas -- but maybe it should.
The FOI act is going to be reviewed by a special committee of the legislature this year.
The committee should make it a priority to look at how the government creates, preserves and destroys records.
If records are never created, can't be found or are improperly or illegally destroyed, then there is little point in having a law that allows us to request them.
And if we need a new law to accomplish that, then that is what the committee should recommend.
*And the RCMP doesn't seem to be prepared to act in the matter yet, either. The Commanding Officer of "E" Division, Gary Bass, the top cop in BC for the RCMP, has pretty much stated that either the police haven't noticed the loss or destruction of e.mail evidence in the Basi Virk trial, or don't know that it's a crime to destroy evidence.
This is a quote from his letter to Robin Mathews (scroll down to October 23, 2009 to see his letter on this web-site), where Gary Bass states: "Should you come into information capable of being viewed as credible evidence of criminal wrongdoing by anyone in the Government, I would give it the attention it deserved."
Vincent Gogolek is the director, policy and communications, of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.
Special thanks to Captain D.P. Love (ret.) for spotting this valuable information and forwarding it to The Legislature Raids. We trust that Mr Gogolek and Times Colonist will appreciate this information being posted here for further distribution in the public interest. It is high time the experts spoke up this way, on behalf of the public. Thanks, all. - BC Mary.
Except there is, and it's been violated.
The Canadian way of dealing with illegal proceedings by government is to hold proceedings that eventually rationalize, or even legalize, them.
Justice Mackenzie may be showing no interest in enforcing the law, or investigating materials disappeared because somebody broke it. "Too expensive" is someone's rationalization as to why.
Indeed, it was very expensive to give away BC for a song. But I wonder, was it a tapdance, or a striptease?
The tapdance about the emails continues, among so many other indications of criminal wrongdoing that's as clear as day to the public, if not to the authorities.
Maybe the reason they're called the Horsemen is because they're trained to wear blinkers.....
Indeed, it was very expensive to give away BC for a song
I meant BC Rail, but it pretty much sums it up, don't it?
It may not pertain to the fairness of the Basi-Virk proceedings, or so goes Justice Mackenzie's call on the matter, but it does pertain to fairness to the public interest, and the fairness of the political and judicial system, if these matters are not properly investigated and ''someone'' brought to charge.
The whole point, by the way, of the system of resignation-at-first-taint-0f-scandal in the British system was to avoid messy - and expensive - court proceedings. The idea was to keep things out of the courtroom and anybody off the witness stand, or the dock for that matter.
"Somebody" should have resigned a long time ago, on any number of matters; other Liberal ministers and members have resigned for lesser reasons, or in dispute with "somebody's" policies.
The truly interesting thought is to contemplate who it was in the chain of command gave the order to delete those emails. Who gave the word, who and where the links in that chain lead, and to who.
Could it be the person who manages the province's/government's information flow and media presence? Surely no too-petty of an underling would have taken to such a daring partisan task.
Maybe they can blame it on the NDP....
But all this can only be determined if somebody gets the horseshoes out of the Mounties' you-know-whats and starts investigating how and by who the emails were deleted, and who was in charge of that. Maybe there's a reason they're not looking...they're his bodyguards after all, and discretion is a job requirement.
I think we should start taking a pool/poll on who the Liberals will get to replace him....maybe I can get Tieleman to put one up ;-)
Indeed, it was very expensive to give away BC for a song
I meant BC Rail, but it pretty much sums it up, don't it?"
The Jungian slip was correct - it ain't just BC Rail that is being given away for a song (or less). Think of the alienated forest lands west of Victoria, around the Arrow Lakes, think Jumbo Resort, all the waterways in the province with a watt of possible power, think subsidized gas drilling, think EDS and Information Management contracts, think Maximus, think Accenture, think salmon farms wiping out the wild salmon, think Alcan selling power and eliminating jobs.......it goes on and on.
Gordon Campbell must feel like he is in the catbird seat, with more power and less accountability than the Leader of the Free World or preznit of the United States. Think of the trouble a few minutes of erased tape caused R. M. Nixon - yet destroying years of e-mails is business as usual for Lord Gord and gang.
Ah, let Facism Ring! Especially "nice" fascism without the embarrassing party names, brownshirts or funny moustaches. Are the trains running on time? Well maybe, when they stay on the rails!
Not demanding full and open disclosure of ALL evidence, including those supposedly "lost" emails immediately IS the wrong thing! Enough already! They've had 5 years to destroy every trace of wrongdoing, why are they being allowed more time to complete it? Instead of letting them off the hook (so to speak), try putting them on it...maybe try giving them 24 hours to produce it ALL, under Police escort the whole time? THIS CASE WARRANTS THAT TYPE OF CONTROL.
Justice MacKenzie have you seen the REAL deal Has anyone in the judiciary of this province actually seen the deal? Do you even give a damn? Or is this an exercise to fool the public into thinking you do, whilst making oneself, and fellow judges and lawyers, even wealthier at the taxpayers expense? It's beginning to appear that way to us - we want to believe in you - we want to trust our legal system in BC - we want to respect you and what you represent. Thus far, the handling of this court case has made that virtually impossible to do.
I've come to the personal conclusion that trying to shame the RCMP, the government, or the judiciary of this province into doing what is right and good for the citizens of this province will never work - it would require a functioning conscience.
One has to wonder if the outcomes/attitudes might be a tad different if it were...say...2013 and the RCMP had a brand new 20 year contract for services in their hands? Would that make them a little more inclined to find the truth "no matter what?"
Have they ordered the new uniforms with the brown shirts for our mounties yet?
I actually think I quipped that a long time ago somewhere....
To Commissioner Bass: I know you're reading this, or you should be unless Mary's blog is the kind of place you only look at every so often....if you are indeed, please don't take offense at the above quip but realize it's a natural outgrowth of your inaction or perhaps disinterest in matters which to those of us following the details of this case and attendant matters are all too obvious.
The emails deletion is one of only weveral obvious cases of law-breaking by this government and its advisors, many of them criminal code violations. You asked Mr. Mathews to provide instances where investigations should be launched; anyone reading this blog and its kindred consistently these last few years knows there's a good two dozen matters that need proper investigation and possible charges.
Please take off the blinkers and lead the charge.
Unless "musical ride" is something like "musical chairs".....
Special Committee to
Review the Freedom of Information
and Protection of Privacy Act
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
"B.C. receives three times as many requests per capita than Ontario and four times as many as Alberta. I think it has something to do with the air in B.C. ICBC and the Ministry of Children and Family Development, in themselves, receive more requests per year than the entire province of Alberta." SNIP
just below line 
Notice how BC Rail is not mentioned, although its the third highest in receiving FOI requests.
There continues to be a conspiracy plot when it come to the BC Rail trial.
This is interesting and useful information.
Here's one bit I copied:
S. Plater: The one that might come into play there is what we call section 21, which I'm sure you might be familiar with at this point, which is the business information. If you're looking at a private development, government would need to evaluate the information to determine if release of it had any financial or business harm to the company. That would be something that would need to be taken into consideration. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]
What would be taken as sort of an equivalent to that in terms of government would be: would the release of that information have any financial or economic harms to government? The same thinking would take place in evaluating the information, but it's two different sections of the act that would apply — one applying to private business and one to the government development. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]
Quite a Fail-Safe Lever, eh?