Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Psychopaths in Power.
The Fight for Democracy in Canada.
by Robin Mathews
It may not be ‘poetic license’ or science fiction to say the core group in the Stephen Harper cabinet is made up of psychopaths.
Lisa Raitt can argue with passion that destroying the democratic bargaining rights of employees in Canada is an act of virtue. She seems to have convinced herself that by making it possible for twenty-year olds to fly to a Florida beach in Spring Break she is up-holding the most basic freedom of Canadians – which must come before all else. She seems to be showing us, also, that the lies of psychopaths know no limits.
And she is showing, as well, that the Harper Conservatives will appeal to the sleaziest self-interest of Canadians in order to erode the rule of law in the country ... and move it towards the condition of a police state.
Whatever else, we must realize the total strategy of the Harper government is a strategy of lies ... as I shall attempt to show. Members of cabinet don’t just use a lie here and there to cover a blunder here and there. Rather, the goals sought are governed by an over-arching policy of lies – planned, prepared, and executed. Policy is followed to invalidate Canadian freedom, to see it as obstructive of efficiency, and, ultimately, to repress any Canadian resistance to what is in fact a growing fascist state. Such a state unites private corporations and a governing elite into a ruling class supported by police and military forces ready and eager to erase violently any public resistance to elite policy.
Increasingly that kind of structure is multi-national. The sell-out of the democracy of Canadians is pursued on behalf of so-called “global” interests. The Harper forces assist in the destruction of Canadian industrial operations like Stelco and Electro Motive Diesel to serve U.S. masters. And the Conservative Party employs – more and more – U.S. masters of deceit to assist in its determination to win elections by any kind of dishonesty, fraud, or malpractice.
The Conservative Party strategy of lies is supported with depressing consistency by the Mainstream Press and Media which actively supports it or overlooks it as a silly fault of a government trying to do its best for Canadians.
Conservative policy is not confined, by any means, to the inner cabinet. There is a democracy-destroying culture of the government (illegitimately) in power, a strategy of lies. In a recent conversation with an aide to a Conservative senator on the Energy and Environment committee, I witnessed that fact. We had a spirited conversation about the attack on environmental organizations by the Harper government. Did I know, she asked, that (charitable status organization) Tides Canada has many, many more employees than (charitable status organization) the Fraser Institute? (She gave me the exact numbers.)
I replied that Tides Canada lists all its donors. I reported to her that I have written to the Fraser Institute and asked for a list of its financial donors. The Fraser Institute refuses to reveal who pays for its operation – but the federal government continues to grant it charitable status. The aide with whom I was speaking expressed sudden surprise to hear my news. She can tell me the exact number of people employed by the Fraser Institute. But she doesn’t know it keeps a tight lid on the names of its financial supporters, refusing to reveal to the public who donates. Quite simply, I didn’t believe her.
The two poster boys for Psychopaths in Power are Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay – the two ends of the spectrum, one might say. They both have a basic characteristic of the psychopath. Truth, for them, is a tactic to be used sparingly. Lies usually sound better. Both men will say anything to cover embarrassing truth … at the drop of a hat, as we say.
Peter Mackay is the Mulroney’esque end of the spectrum. He’s expansive. He likes luxury. He’s important (?). He deserves the best (he thinks). He will say anything – whether he’s explaining his luxurious hotel accommodations, his rich use of the Royal Canadian Air Force as a taxi service, his commandeering of a search and rescue helicopter to deliver him from a fishing vacation, or the endlessly elastic costs of the non-existent F-35 warplane. On that subject he’ll use anybody’s figures he deems useful at the time. He’s a “fibber” who runs off at the mouth. But he’s “fun”. He’s “likeable”. So was ‘Lyin Brian’ Mulroney.
His siamese twin is Stephen Harper. He, too, appears to believe lies sound better than the truth. So he avoids the truth when he can … which is frequently. But he is not “fun”. Many believe the depths of his will to deceive are almost bottomless.
Karlheinz Schreiber, lobbyist, arms-dealer, (now a convict in Germany) and much more, who was tangled with Brian Mulroney’s destiny over decades, filed an affidavit in Ontario Supreme Court in the week of November 5, 2007. In it he made allegations which involved his relations with Mulroney as prime minister. And he claimed he had written to Stephen Harper about extradition attempts and that he had asked Mulroney to intercede with Harper on his behalf.
Schreiber was alleged, in the words of Wikipedia, (relating to the purchase of Airbus planes for Air Canada) “to have arranged secret commissions to be paid to Brian Mulroney…. There has never been any evidence produced to substantiate the allegation”.
Very clearly, the Schreiber allegations of 2007 focussed the relation of Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper. Closer examination might prove embarrassing. Stephen Harper quickly announced a Public Inquiry into the relation of Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber. Harper chose Conservative university president David Johnston to set the terms of the Inquiry. Johnston, in effect, ruled out any serious approach to the subject of the purchase of Airbus planes for Air Canada. Johnston was appointed Governor General of Canada shortly after.
Mr. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant, appointed Inquirer, observed the limits of the Inquiry, judged the testimony of Brian Mulroney not believable, and was unable (as he saw the matter) to investigate the most serious allegations in the whole long and expensive affair. By deft manipulation – which some Canadians might believe desecrated Canadian justice and fairness – Stephen Harper disposed of the Karlheinz Schreiber/Brian Mulroney/Stephen Harper problem without ever permitting the key allegations against Brian Mulroney to be fully and fairly examined.
On the election-spending fraud of the 2006 election, Stephen Harper knew nothing (?). Funds flowed through 68 Conservative constituency offices, and he knew nothing about it. Though the Conservative Party admitted guilt and paid a fine for enormous fraud in the democratic process, the leader of the Conservative Party knew nothing about the fraud. The Robocall Scandal of the 2011 election – which was nationwide, planned, organized, all-out – happened without his knowledge. He went so far as to state publicly that it had nothing to do with Conservative Party headquarters. How did he know? If the Robocall Scandal happened without his knowledge, how does he know Conservative Party Headquarters knew nothing about it?
On the matter of the F-35 warplane anticipated purchase, he had to know the difference between the estimates of all government-related authorities in the matter of the F-35 and what he told Canadians in the 2011 campaign, giving a different figure that was flatly untrue. Those who allege he purposefully lied to Canadians during that campaign cannot be convincingly contradicted.
He juxtaposes his “truths” in ways which are often offensive. Relations with China and the Harper government get closer and closer. China is a despotism. Its industrial capacity is supported by near slave-labour conditions. China’s response to dissent is jail without trial when it isn’t outright violence and slaughter. The decent mind boggles when it thinks of the ordinary lives of tens of millions of Chinese people. To Stephen Harper, China is fine.
But “Socialist” Cuba must be ostracized, cast out, kept from the Summit of the Americas even though all countries but the U.S. want Cuba included. Cuba offends Stephen Harper’s democratic principles, according to Harper himself. Democratic principles? No. As with the Kyoto Accord and almost every other policy of importance, Harper’s Cuba policy is made in Washington and in the offices of Goldman Sachs. The only time in recent history that Cuba could be placed in the same category as present China on the matter of human rights was in the period of Cuban despotism and terror fully supported by the U.S.A. before the arrival of the Castro government.
Stephen Harper’s apparent lying process is very different from that of Peter MacKay. Stephen Harper gives every indication of preparing lies. He appears to many to know he is uttering them. They don’t flood from him the way Peter MacKay’s lies do. That is why Harper is an “um” speaker. He ‘ums’, it may be argued, to pretend he doesn’t know what he is going to say next. Harper pushes an “um” along his sentences. He doesn’t want his lies, an analyst might say, to sound glib. He wants them to sound thoughtful, shaped as he goes, and so he “ums’ and “ums” his way through sentences.
He might be said by experts to be the other end of the psychopath spectrum from Peter MacKay. He wants to look solid, dependable, measured. He wants to use his power effectively in his service of the big corporations. He wants the lie to become the truth – because he speaks it. He wants to look kind as he removes human rights and democratic protections from Canadians. But his long term lying is beginning to be evident.
Consider CBC. Consider the attack on environmental safety and groups advocating preservation of the environment.
James Moore, Heritage Minister, led what I believe is a long trajectory of lying about the CBC. If true, his behaviour supports the idea that lying is a significant strategy in long-term Harperite policy. Mr. Moore first showed great enthusiasm for the CBC, suggesting it would not face a cut in budget. Immediately after the (illegitimate) election of 2011 he remarked that the government “would maintain or increase support for the CBC”. Then, months later, he admitted that in the overall 5% cut in the federal budget the CBC would have to carry its share of cost. Months later when the budget was finally presented – and examined, cuts to the CBC came, superficially, to more than 10%, and, arguably, when all losses are figured in, to nearly 20%. The Harper private corporate forces want to destroy public broadcasting in Canada. The process has long been worked out I believe, and a trail of lying – already begun - will lead to achievement of the goal.
The greatest pattern of lies and denials of fact by Harper and his brood relate to the environment. They are completely complicit with what might be called the Goldman Sachs/large corporation denial of climate change, of Fukashima dangers, and of present ravages by industrial and military pollution of the environment.
From the time when the Liberals were in majority power, the Harper Conservatives have carried the torch for what is – despite cosmetic policies of “sustainability” - a general, North American, wealthy elite denial of present and future dangers to human life on the planet. The lying that has been unrelieved is now united with an open attack upon democratic freedoms and legal behaviour.
The slander against environmental groups with charitable status and the millions of dollars to be spent to investigate whether those organizations have been violating the ‘no political action’ clause is a hoax. For the Harper government is not consistent enough to attack reactionary organizations with charitable status. There has been no mention of investigation of the Fraser Institute, Preston Manning’s organization, or others of the kind that visibly advocate on behalf of Conservative government policies and philosophy.
The same may be said for the new environmental review legislation. Huge corporations involved in the activities – whether in direct exploitation of the environment or in “sustainability” and community concern groups – are treated as solemn, objective, publicly responsible organizations faced with rabid, undemocratic, secretly financed, near terrorist organizations called environmental concern groups.
The lies about the status of participants in the argument over environmental protection are not only supported by the Harper government but created and circulated by it. The lies are intended to create a long-term Orwellian false reality. As the public comes to accept it, military and police forces can be used to destroy violently any attempt at democratic expression.
And where are the Mainstream Press and Media editorial writers and columnists in all this sordid history? (A) Saying nothing. (B) Avoiding the subject. (C) Occasionally slightly perturbed – but almost never doing in-depth coverage in order to inform Canadians of the truth. (D) Or … as is the case with Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason, they reveal what seems to be a parroting of the arguments made by the Harper Reactionaries and their corporate friends. Doing the job? Covering up as directed? Producing more media sleaze to bamboozle readers?
In his Globe column (April 19, 2012, A17) – “A burden lifted but opposition remains”, Gary Mason wakens the questions about himself that were asked by Marc Garneau of Peter MacKay. Can Gary Mason read? Can he understand the world he is in? Approving of the new, narrowed Harper environmental review policy that cuts out the provinces, Mason pretends that the people of the provinces may not have distinctly different concerns than the Harper government in Ottawa and may want a provincial platform to express them.
Democracy demands the participation of people concerned with policy measures taken on their behalf. In a democracy, governments must balance the power of large private corporations with wide open space for members of the population to be heard. Mason believes that “dozens and dozens of environmental groups … making essentially the same point …. Merely drags out the process….”
But dragging out the process is an important democratic activity. It happens in Parliament all the time in order to focus the attention of the population. It is a democratic political activity intended to inform a large public. It must be protected. Gary Mason opts for fascist efficiency – which is not efficiency at all but destructive policy to serve wealthy interests over the needs of the democratic population.
Since the reviews (in Mason’s mind) are undertaken merely to find if environmental damage, narrowly defined, may happen, Mason cheer-leads for Stephen Harper. There is no reason “why so many projects need to go though a two-step procedure”, Mason avers. That is a way of saying there is no reason why democracy should be in place to serve the population when destroying democracy would be much more efficient for private, wealth- gathering corporations.
Cutting out environmental groups unless “they can prove they are directly affected … isn’t entirely evil”, Mason instructs us. But a tanker accident near Alaska can affect the lives of Ontarians. A pipeline accident harming rivers may affect fish and the fishing industry in a huge area. Environmental disasters in one place can affect the whole world – which may be why Gary Mason never mentions the Fukashima disaster and its growing threat. If he did, he could never again talk the nonsense he does about those “directly affected”. To suggest that environmental reviews are only concerned with those “directly affected”, those living near proposed activity, is simply fraudulent. Gary Mason pushes the fraudulent claim. It is the new Orwellian position of the Harper government, cheered and urged on by Gary Mason in “Canada’s national newspaper”. God help us.
To read columns like the Mason column in the Globe and Mail is to invite feelings of nausea and revulsion … and anger.
Those must be the feelings of as many Canadians as possible. They must find a way to organize and to confront, effectively – and to turn back – the long-term policy of the Harper government – “the lying policy” – the policy that is intended to make lies the truth in Canada.
cross-posted at House of Infamy
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Mea Culpa....Part Deux!
When I first realized I wasn't being notified (Mea Culpa previous) I checked out the comments folder, and spam folder and wound up releasing about 30-40 comments. Then after resetting the comments notification I started getting at least two notifications for each comment. Then I re-adjusted the settings and now again I've been getting no notifications. I checked the folder today and have just released almost twenty recent comments, so if you commented in the last week or two and wondered why it wasn't published, check now and it will likely be there. If you need to contact the blog e-mail me at:
To the commenter who was asking about the future of this site, to wit:
Is this now a dormant site? If not, perhaps someone should make a statement about its status.
If there aren't regular BC Rail updates here you'll lose your the audience, and the valuable archive that Mary left us will be relegated to the dusty shelves.
The postings don't all have to be lengthy tomes, in fact, better that most of them aren't. Is anyone able to carry on the research that Mary used to do on this subject? i.e. not turn it into a general blog on any subject
Hoping the site will carry on, through whomever, if possible. Even if nothing more than a permanently available archive blog. She brought the best investigative stuff to the surface, way more than Alex Tsakumis (she just didn't have the insider's contacts that he does).
2 April, 2012 1:29 PM
The site will carry on, however there is no one on the horizon to carry on the level of constant research that Mary was so good at doing. I don't have the time to carry on my own stuff and replace Mary. However, I did always provide a certain degree of tech support for her and was involved with TLR and will continue to keep it running. Recently I have published three appropriate pieces by Robin Mathews and I am willing to publish anything submitted by anyone that is appropriate, in other words has bearing on BC Rail and the crooks that stole it. Also it will remain available as an archive, and anyone with access to the visitor logs would be amazed at the volume of traffic that TLR still attracts. Much of the traffic is the result of search engine referrals when web surfers use key words that relate to the subject matter of the more than 2000 posts that Mary published since 2006.
I am also in the process of backing up the entire blog onto other media, so that even if the internet ceased to exist, the work that Mary did on behalf of everyone that cares about British Columbia will live on, even if it has to be chiseled in stone or applied to papyrus scrolls.
Also, RossK of the Pacific Gazette, will likely, if he chooses, be back as a contributor. We've been having a problem with his posts to his own site somehow overwriting the entries on third party blogrolls and then that would create a link that led to an error page if someone tried to link to The Legislature Raids. Under the circumstances, I was afraid that might cause some folks to think the blog had been cancelled/deleted. That issue and the inconsequential Map_key issue both have yet to be resolved. The key issue though is easy for now, just click on Okay, on the pop-up error message and carry on, everything works on the front end and the back end (excepting the comment notification, which is most likely my bad). I may just eliminate the comment approval prior to publication, at least as a trial. Google Blogger does a good job sorting out the genuine spam and in general if it is the matter of a comment in poor taste, I've always felt that reflected entirely on the commenter, rather than the host. Either way, I will get into the habit of checking the comment folder more often, at least until I either free the process up, or straighten out the notification process.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Law And The New Fascism
............. In Canada
submitted by - Robin Mathews
Many people in Canada have never heard of Shirley Bond, B.C.’s Solicitor General, Minister of Public Safety, and Attorney General of the province. Nevertheless, she fits snugly into the new role of legislators – to block any acts of responsibility to the electorate, to cover up violations of trust by government, to sham the relation between large corporations and the legislators “owned” by the corporations.
She is presently insisting that her attempt to block the Auditor General from investigating all the circumstances of the “unconventional” $6 million pay-out to Defence Counsel in the Basi, Virk, and Basi (BC Rail Scandal) case is a demonstration of her full and willing cooperation with the Auditor General. Ms. Bond was Deputy Premier when the “deal” was made to chop the (unfinished) trial in order to prevent cross-examination of top politicos and corporate actors … and to pay the costs of the convicted men – Dave Basi and Bobby Virk.
The Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark/Shirley Bond Liberal government will never get to the 2013 provincial election if the full story of the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR is told. Thus (I believe), we see Ms. Bond’s game of smoke and mirrors with law and with the integrity of the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The move in Canada – and globally, to destroy the rule of law, to assail rights of collective bargaining, to kidnap ownership of nationally-owned resources by multi-national elites, to turn police forces into “palace armies”, to debase the democratic election process, to hand governing to private interests, and to sell off and ship out the sources of worthwhile employment (the industrial base) – has a number of names.
After the March 29th federal budget the Globe and Mail chose to call the move in Canada: “Harper’s modest revolution”. If the matter wasn’t so serious, the Globe’s characterization would be laughable. The Harper government (Air Canada, Postal Workers) has set about wrecking collective bargaining in Canada. The Harper forces admitted guilt to an attempted rig of the 2006 election (which should have caused major criminal charges, and has not).
The Harper government has been a party to the highly dubious sell-off of STELCO to U.S. interests, and the closing down of ELECTRO-MOTIVE DIESEL by recently new owner CATERPILLAR – after insulting the employees by offering them a 50% wage cut. And shortly before sale, a $5 million tax grant went to the Corporation from the Harper government. [With what behind-the-scenes agreements??] Expect more of the same under the Harper regime.
In the calculated and highly organized (alleged) Harper Party attempt to wreck the 2011 election through Robocall electronic tactics, another major attack was made upon the legitimacy of the election process in Canada. All indications point to the Conservative Party and its supporters as the major, overwhelmingly involved force engaged in election-wrecking. That must be said repeatedly. The bully-boy tactics of the people with organizations involved and by spokespeople for the Harper force in Parliament are intended, I believe, to stop Canadians from saying just that: every indication points to the Conservative Party and its supporters as creators of the latest attack upon the legitimacy of the election process in Canada.
In addition, using its proxy power in the Enbridge Corporation, the Harper forces are attacking freedom of assembly in Canada. In the North yesterday, the Northern Gateway hearing was closed down because, apparently, Enbridge representatives were offended by a school teacher and pupils showing signs opposed to the Gateway development. Enbridge was trying to say that they will not engage with the population democratically. They want militarized agreement with their corporate decisions.
Proof that the Harper government was in on the mini-blow against democracy is given by its complete silence in the face of the Enbridge action.
That is not nearly all. With this column, I am sending information that has come to me from Kelly Marie Richard. In short, she was (as she and I believe firmly) corruptly prevented from carrying out an action for Dental Malpractice by CGI (Information Technology firm with other widening interests), the RCMP, some of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench judiciary, and others. Her allegation (extending from that experience) in what is attached with this column is, in short, that Stephen Harper is cutting budget and employees at Department of National Defense and Public Safety and is replacing with employees from CGI. Privatizing, secretly, operations of federal government.
Kelly Marie Richard has investigated CGI for some years and has recorded hundreds of CGI employees in Federal Government Departments and Crown Corporations WORKING FOR CGI.
We should not fail to recognize that since the taking of government in B.C. by what is fairly called the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark forces (2001) ALL of the same kinds of moves have been visible in British Columbia – except, so far, proof of election rigging.
The breaches of trust, the violations of the rule of law, the contracts entered into (at least partly) in secrecy, the sell-out of wealth owned by the people of the province, the dirty cronyism, the cover-up of (perhaps) criminal activity within government, and much, much, much more are too vast and extensive to deal with here.
Here, I will deal with a centre devoted to the wreckage of the rule of law in British Columbia – by which I mean the Ministry of the Attorney General. Since the arrival of the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark government it may be said that NOT ONE Attorney General has served without at least one (discovered) ugly, unprincipled action destroying the credibility of the Office. How many other violations of trust the Attorneys General have engaged in may come out in future investigations.
It has been said that the Attorney General preceding Shirley Bond resigned because he was pushed (apparently to act politically) by premier Christy Clark, and – perhaps – because he could read the writing on the wall … that the Liberals have no chance in the next election (2013). That may be so. But before going, he was charged with fiddling and delaying the HST referendum. And there is more ….
Not one … not one Attorney General since the arrival of the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark government, I allege, has conducted himself or herself without reason on the part of the electorate strongly to suspect his/her actions.
Since Attorneys General hold a special and important place in relation to the rule of law, their unbroken failure since 2001 in B.C. is a symbol of the betrayal of democratic process in the country. Attorneys General have a key role. They are responsible for the courts and justice, and they are responsible for advising the cabinet on all matters of law in relation to any cabinet action. They sit both as cabinet members and – at the same time - must have the integrity to insist upon fully lawful practice by cabinet.
It is a tough role that calls for integrity, principle, and calm.
Let us look at the record.
In 2003, Geoff Plant, Attorney General (2001-2005), and Allan Seckel, Deputy Attorney General, flagrantly violated the legislation governing the appointment of Special Prosecutors and appointed to the BC Rail Scandal Basi, Virk, and Basi case a man with whom they had both been partners and colleagues for years. As a result, nothing William Berardino did as Special (Crown) Prosecutor can be accepted. Any British Columbian who believes Mr. Berardino worked for the political ends of the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark governments may fairly hold that belief.
Geoff Plant’s successor, Wally Oppal (2005-09), besmirched his reputation and position in at least two major ways. He did everything he could as Attorney General in the legislature and outside of it under questioning to insist every matter concerning the BC Rail Scandal was “sub judice” – that is to say in active consideration by the Courts. That was simply not true.
But as telling, in an attempt to get an action in process against the alleged Bountiful bigamists, he also violated the procedure to appoint Special (Crown) Prosecutors. He went “Special Prosecutor shopping”, which means he was determined to start a case whether experts believed a case was legitimate or not.
The first two “distinguished” lawyers he approached said no case could be taken until a higher court ruled whether religious bigamy was permissible under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mr. Oppal should have followed the advice of the first Special Prosecutor appointed. Instead, he went from Special Prosecutor to Special Prosecutor until he could get what he wanted – a trial (I believe, for purely political reasons).
When Mr. Oppal’s game was exposed in the first hours of the trial, the Supreme court judge stopped the action, then and there and, in effect, threw it out. A case conducted by the accused against Wally Oppal upheld the action to throw the case out of court and the decision that he had acted wrongfully.
As a result Wally Oppal was appointed to the lucrative post as Commissioner to head the Inquiry into the matters concerning the Vancouver Downtown Eastside women murdered at the Pickton Farm. Many believe it is a sham procedure in which Mr. Oppal prevents questions being asked about matters that would be embarrassing to police or government.
When Wally Oppal was defeated at the polls, he was succeeded as Attorney General by Michael de Jong (2009-10).
Clearly, people inside government were becoming aware that the British Columbia public were concerned the Special
Crown Prosecutor process was being used for political ends by the Gordon Campbell government.
Related - as suspected corruption - but not as a link to the BC Rail Scandal, the new Solicitor General Kash Heed was alleged to have been involved in election irregularities. The Special Prosecutor appointed to look into his actions – Terrence Robertson - was found to be in conflict of interest and was replaced by Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson.
Attorney General Michael de Jong decided to conduct a review of the Special Prosecutor appointment process. To do so, he went to a vice president of UBC. That was imprudent, since UBC is in a master/servant relation with the B.C. government which can – at any time – do harm to the operations of the university. A reviewer of government behaviour from UBC can be suspected of prejudice in his/her work. Stephen Owen’s Report did nothing to allay that suspicion.
Michael de Jong appointed Stephen Owen to do the review in May of 2010. Mr. Owen is a vice president in charge of relations with governments – a role that might well restrain him from making a judgement against the B.C. government.
I wrote Mr. Owen a formal letter on the matter of the wrongful appointment of William Berardino as Special Prosecutor in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case. Mr. Owen did not acknowledge my letter. He did not mention the Berardino matter in his review. He interviewed, however, Janet Winteringham who was a part of the Berardino prosecution team. And he interviewed Michael de Jong.
His report in July of 2010 recorded that “there is pride and confidence in the special prosecutor system”. He said the process of appointment is appropriate. And he reported that “the special prosecutor system in British Columbia works well in the public interest”.
When Michael de Jong left the Attorney General position, it was filled by Barry Penner from 2010 to 2011. News stories and commentary on the short time Barry Penner was Attorney General give the impression he was pushed by premier Christy Clark to act politically in the position. Mr. Penner is said to have pushed back, and then to have resigned from the legislature.
Nevertheless, seeking an opinion on the money paid for legal costs to employees of government who are convicted or who plead guilty to crimes, Attorney General Penner sought expert advice on that non-question. A school child could answer it.
He should not have sought a review from the President and Vice Chancellor of the University of British Columbia for the same reason Michael de Jong should not have sought advice from a Vice President of UBC. UBC is supported by the ever-changing budget of governments in power. UBC agents may be accused of conflict of interest when they provide advice to B.C. government. They may be accused of toadying and seeking favour.
President and Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope should - for the same reason – have refused. He should have told Attorney General Penner that there are nearly 11,000 lawyers at work in B.C., thousands of whom have no connection whatever to B.C. government. President Toope should have said ‘ “use one of those lawyers”. He didn’t. He accepted the request. His acceptance, as I see it, was uneasy. For he wrote at the beginning of his report that he was “Professor Stephen Toope”, and he wrote that he was responding “in my personal capacity” – which he probably knew was so much rhetorical nonsense. He could not – at will – cease to be the President and Vice Chancellor of UBC. Period.
He appears to me to have done in his review more gently what Stephen Owen did in his – that is, okay government behaviour. Observe what he writes:
“the Ministry of Attorney General officials have worked diligently to respond to requests for indemnification that require the exercise of discretion. Using firmly established common law method, the officials charged with exercising discretion have justified their decisions by drawing out principles present in existing cases and analogizing those principles to new circumstances. [My capital letters.] AS FAR AS I CAN TELL FROM THE DOCUMENTS TO WHICH I HAVE HAD ACCESS, THE RESULTS TO DATE HAVE BEEN PRINCIPLED….” (p. 29)
A wise Attorney General would have accepted that document and been very content with it. But Barry Penner had resigned. Shirley Bond had become the new Attorney General and received the report from President and Vice Chancellor of UBC, Stephen Toope. She decided to push the matter a little further, not content with the victory won.
She wrote a letter to Stephen Toope after receiving the Report. And she asked him a question which he publishes. President Toope should have included the whole letter from Shirley Bond, but he only included the question.
Her question, in short, asked if government employees are convicted or plead guilty, should government require that the employees pay back, (the term used is to provide “reimbursement” of) the money paid for their costs during the case?
President and Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope replies in no uncertain terms: the convicted should pay back. In his letter to Attorney General Shirley Bond on November 8, 2010 he writes the following:
“…my view is that for criminal indemnities, conviction (including the case of a guilty plea) should trigger a claim for full reimbursement. Guilt in a criminal case necessarily means that a public servant was not acting in the scope of his or her duties or in the course of employment. No BC government employment duty can require the commission of a criminal offence. No valid purpose articulated in any report would be served by allowing indemnification in such cases, because there is no public interest in protecting the public servant from the full consequences (including financial consequences) of criminal liability.
It follows that the requirement of reimbursement in the case of criminal conviction should be mandatory and not the subject of the exercise of discretion.”
That has placed Attorney General Shirley Bond in a tough position, for her government has decided to engage in “the exercise of discretion” and to pay the $6 million costs of the two men who pled guilty to criminal offences. The statements of the President and Vice Chancellor of UBC, in addition, add power to the requests of the Auditor General of B.C. for all information leading to the payment of that sum.
But Shirley Bond knows, I think, that the payment – as it stands – cannot be defended, for it was, in effect – many, many British Columbians believe – a payment of hush money, a payment to get the accused out of the courtroom, and the trial ended, before other, higher placed government and corporate officials became involved in charges of wrongdoing. The “exercise of discretion” in that case was used to protect the powerful wrongdoers in the BC Rail Scandal. It was undertaken to block and prevent the fair administration of justice. And so Shirley Bond, under the protestation of giving every help possible to the Auditor General, appears to be blocking every access to information about the process of agreeing to the payment.
She is the last (and the present) Attorney General since 2001. And she appears to be hip-deep in abuse of the powers of the Ministry of the Attorney General. She is keeping the foul reputation of the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark Ministry of the Attorney General alive … and flourishing.
Since the beginning of the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark Liberal government in B.C., it has been perfectly in accord with the ideology and practice of the Stephen Harper neoliberals in Ottawa. That is why Gordon Campbell was made Canadian High Commissioner in London after he was forced out of the premiership in B.C.
That is why Christy Clark has hired Harper aides to be her closest advisors and why she exults in photo-ops with Stephen Harper.
The soiled and disgraceful history of the Ministry of the Attorney General of B.C. since 2001 is a faithful representation of the assault on the rule of law and on the integrity of democratic government in Canada in the first 12 years of the century. Unless the direction is reversed, the country may expect deeply troubled times marked by violence and increasing class conflict.