Friday, March 28, 2008

Les is no more - Solicitor General John Les resigns - under investigation by Special Prosecutor in connection with land deal when Chilliwack Mayor


BC Liberal Solicitor General John Les has resigned this evening, telling media that: "I know I have done nothing wrong."

Les is under investigation by a Special Prosecutor in connections with allegations about land deals which took place in Chilliwack when Les was mayor there from 1987 to 1999, CBC News is reporting.

Special Prosecutor Robin McFee was apparently appointed last June but the appointment was only confirmed today after CBC News made inquiries. Other former municipal officials are also under investigation. The criminal justice branch issued a news release late Friday.

Les held a hastily-arranged news conference this evening to announce his resignation as Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
Questions remain about who knew Les was under investigation as of June 2007 and why he continued in the key cabinet position in charge of policing, law enforcement and correctional facilities in British Columbia.

Current Chilliwack mayor Clint Hames confirmed the existence of an RCMP investigation into possible criminal charges on February 6, according to the Chilliwack Times.

The matter allegedly involved a city employee and went back 10 years.

"Since the investigation is ongoing, the RCMP have requested that the city refrain from commenting on any details surrounding the matter," the release read.

The Times's Paul J. Henderson reported that: "City records indicate that 10 years ago the matter under investigation was looked into by a third-party hired by the city. As a result of that investigation the matter was deemed an 'internal staff issue and the employee was subsequently separated from their employment with the city.'

A legal opinion obtained by the city advised city council and city staff from commenting further while the matter is in police jurisdiction."

Premier Gordon Campbell is scheduled to hold a news conference tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. regarding the matter.

Les has represented the riding of Chilliwack-Sumas since 2001 and in June 2005 was appointed Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

Les has also been a federal Liberal Party candidate, losing in the 1997 election in Fraser Valley to Chuck Strahl, then of the Reform Party and now a Conservative cabinet minister.

36 comments:

Gary E said...

My main question is: Why if a special prosecutor was appointed last June (2007) did the government keep this under wraps until questioned by the Media?

I await with baited breath for the Great Spin tomorrow at 10:00am

Anonymous said...

Bill, you seem to have possibly some inside knowledge on how these things work.

When the RCMP raided Glen Clark's house (and the RCMP re-iterated that Clark was **not** under criminal investigation), that investigation must have been going on for a long period of time.

Who makes these decisions in government and who knows about 'em???

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks for the question.

There is no requirement or clear direction in the Crown Counsel Act, under which a Special Prosecutor is appointed, to inform cabinet ministers about the investigation. That does not, however, mean that no one in cabinet was aware - just that it's possible.

Here is some information from the Crown Counsel Act

Special prosecutors

7 (1) If the ADAG [Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Criminal Justice Branch] considers it is in the public interest, he or she may appoint a lawyer, who is not employed in the Ministry of Attorney General, as a special prosecutor.

(2) A special prosecutor must carry out his or her mandate, as set out in writing by the ADAG, and in particular must

(a) examine all relevant information and documents and report to the ADAG with respect to the approval and conduct of any specific prosecution, and

(b) carry out any other responsibilities respecting the initiation and conduct of a specific prosecution.

(3) If the ADAG appoints a special prosecutor, the ADAG must advise the Deputy Attorney General

(a) that a special prosecutor has been appointed, and

(b) the name of the special prosecutor.

(4) If, after a special prosecutor receives the mandate under subsection (2), the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General or ADAG gives a direction to a special prosecutor in respect of any matter within the mandate of the special prosecutor, that direction must be given in writing and be published in the Gazette.

(5) Subject to the mandate given to the special prosecutor by the ADAG or to a directive referred to in subsection (4), the decision of a special prosecutor with respect to any matter within his or her mandate is final, but a decision not to approve a prosecution may be appealed by a law enforcement officer under the process established by section 4 (4).

Delay in publication

8 (1) The Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General or ADAG may direct publication in the Gazette of those matters referred to in section 5 or 7 be delayed if to do so would be in the interests of the administration of justice.

(2) A delay under subsection (1) must not extend beyond the completion of the prosecution or matter or any related prosecution or matter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response Bill!

Now I read this from Canadian Press:

"The investigation has grown to involve **most** of the **city council** during that period."

What's goin' on out there? I thought that area was our own local version of "Green Acres"!

http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5hJktNmZR7yDykrifV9Zn63KjLcAw

Anonymous said...

Considering the Les Affair was in month nine and he only quit last night . . . it's not surprising the BASIGATE SCANDAL is in year four of obstruction & stonewalling.

I wonder if the Spiderman rat-ted him out in exchange for even more immunity.

This all reminds me of the old Martinite leadership war motto . . . WE ONLY CHEAT WHEN WE CAN'T WIN !

GREAT SATAN

Anonymous said...

How on earth does the Criminal Justice Branch allow John Les to stay in place as the "TOP COP" when the cops are investigating him??

Ujjal Dosanjh was forced to disclose that Premier Glen Clark was under investigation and that forced Clarks resignation.

For the media to find out about this and force the criminal justice branch to issue a news release at 5:30PM on a Friday is more than troubling.

Public confidence in the BC Government has been diminished by the actions of the Criminal Justice Branch.

It seems as though the keep this quiet decision was more for political benefit. You will recall that in June of 2007 John Les was being criticized for his handling of the BC Lottery scandal.

I can only hope that this investigation is carried out fairly and that the charge approval test for the Special Prosecutor is decided fairly and without any consideration of the next election in a short 12 months.

DL said...

Who said the AG at the time of Glen Clark's deck an issue, had to make it public? Ujjal wanted to be Premier so maybe just maybe, that's why Clarks actions became big news. I still find it weird that TV folks just happened to be in the lane behind Clarks house as the cops showed up. Accidental according to the reporter who now works for channel 12 in Victoria.Ujjal went Liberal after his government failed and sits as a Liberal in Ottawa.

Anonymous said...

Love this headline from the Globe and Mail:

"Solicitor-general right to step down, B.C. Premier says"

It must be the right thing for him to do –– his holy, Premier Campbell, said so. How noble of Les to step down like that!

I have to ask, what would Campbell say if Les was under investigation for a DUI?

Anonymous said...

Great and hilarious question anonymous 7:02. I hope an editorial cartoonist picks up on your idea.

Anonymous said...

NEED to KNOW

What is not known - and what Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames is not releasing - is who the employee was AND who the 3rd party investigator was AND why was there no RCMP investigation done 10 years ago?

According to the Chilliwack Times (Feb/07/2008) this current investigation started in March 2007 "when the Chilliwack detachment of the RCMP informed the city they were looking into possible criminal activity of a former employee of the city dating back 10 years". The Special Prosecutor was appointed in June 2007.

From the same Chilliwack Times article: "City records indicate that 10 years ago the matter under investigation was looked into by a third-party hired by the city. As a result of that investigation the matter was deemed an 'internal staff issue and the employee was subsequently separated from their employment with the city.'"

The statement from the province's Criminal Justice Branch says the investigation includes examining "potential misconduct on the part of former officials with the City of Chilliwack"... So this romp through greener pastures is far from over. [emphasis added]

Anonymous said...

While the allegations of impropriety are clearly made years before Mr. Les was elected as a Liberal (and are not proven at this point), it simply adds more fuel to the fire that this government & many of it's elected officials & bureaucrats have potentially behaved with a great deal of "moral flexibility" and an arrogance that forms the foundation of what this government has done over the past few years.

Most of the public & citizens feel a genuine outrage over how our quality of life has diminished, despite the spin. Yet, the talking heads of Campbell's government try to shovel you-know-what & tell us how great things are. It just isn't credible anymore.

One of the other posters had it right, at this point in time, in BC, the entire Criminal Justice Branch has a black mark over the bungling & disingenuity. We the citizens deserve a justice system that works the benefit of the public. One where senior bureaucrats don't make decisions to hide investigations against the head of policing in the province until caught out by the media. We deserve a fair & adequate trial (as do the defendants) in the Basi-Virk-Basi trial. Respect for the judiciary is being undermined by the actions of this government. For Judge Bennett to allow the ongoing shenanigans is unconscionable.

I believe that it is now time for the Federal government to step in & conduct an inquiry into corruption & allegations of wrongdoing in the BC Criminal Justice Branch, in the Court system & in the highest level of the BC government. Our very democracy & freedom is at-risk.

I do believe that these few people, Doug Walls, Ken Dobell, John Les & all of the parties involved in the Basi-Virk trial are the tip of the iceberg. Why was Shirley Bond not investigated for her role & connection with Doug Walls?

There are many, many people who know some of the very bad things that have happened in this province over the last 7 years & it is time for people to start coming forward en masse. It is in the public's interest & for the public good for the corruption, harm & risk to the public to be brought out from under the rocks.

Whistleblowers, start blowing your horns, loud & proud & stand up for decency, integrity & service in the public's interest.

Gazetteer said...

Anon-Above/Need To Know @ 6:54am--

Excellent points re: questions arising from the second part of Paul Henderson's Feb 2008 Chilliwack Times piece.


____
(for anyone interested I've fleshed out these questions and put them in context re: alleged criminal activity vs. potential for post activity cover-up at my place)

.

Anonymous said...

You might want to check out this great article by Paul Willcocks at

http://willcocks.blogspot.com/

The next Question Period should be interesting if we can get beyond"I can't answer that, it's before the courts.'

Anonymous said...

CURIOUSER and CURIOUSER

Turns out that current Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames "has been serving his community since 1990 – first as a Councillor, and then since 2000 as Mayor" - That would completely cover the period in question.
.....
Mayor Hames apparently put out a press release about the investigation back in February 2008, but I can't seem to find it online - Anybody? This would be the press release that sparked The Chilliwack Times' Paul J. Henderson 07/Feb/2008 article. A link to the criminal justice branch issued news release from Friday (28/Mar/2008) would be nice too.
.....
The loose lips of Les - from Rod Mickleburgh and Ian Bailey in Saturday's (29/Mar/2008) Globe and Mail: Mr. Hames said police told the city they were investigating the behaviour of a former municipal employee going back at least 10 years. "Since the investigation is ongoing, the RCMP have requested that the city refrain from commenting on any details surrounding the matter"

Mr. Les said he had heard the same rumours, but never imagined they touched his time as mayor.

"I hadn't paid it any particular attention. I was never informed that I was involved in the investigation. I was never questioned by police. I was never advised there was a special prosecutor," he said.
.....
So Les knew in February 2008 that somebody was sniffing around his patch. My lieDAR was close to going off the scale when I read: "I hadn't paid it any particular attention."

Bill Tieleman said...

Warning to posters - I will not publish anything I deem to be defamatory or highly questionable on this or any other story on this blog.

Please do not make allegations that cannot be supported by facts.

This website is no different than any other publication when it comes to libel, slander or defamation - and it is highly unfair to make unsubstantiated allegations, particularly without identifying yourself.

In any event, I have rejected some comments and will continue to do so if these simple and obvious guidelines are not followed.

tinaz said...

Bill,

I just read your posting wherein you write that you won't publish anything you deem to be defamatory or highly questionable on your blog.

I am curious as to how you can make such determination. I know that anything I write is based on facts, otherwise I would not say it.

By censoring what the public believes and thinks, you are basically cutting off the voice of your readers. While you may disagree with what some of your readers write and it may even make you uncomfortable, you ought to know as a journalist that it is crucial to know what others believe

I hope you will reconsider your position.

Tina Z

Bill Tieleman said...

Tina = I am responsible for everything on this blog and as such, I have to decide if in my opinion a posting is defamatory or libelous, just as every newspaper publisher does and every media outlet does.

As a longtime newspaper columnist who has personally been seriously threatened with a libel action and who has had lawyers review many columns, I think I have a very good idea of what may cross the line from opinion into defamation.

Everyone is welcome to comment on my website but I am the publisher and will not jeopardize the continued existence of this website by posting material I deem as potentially defamatory.

Anyone can set up their own blog and post anything they like on it if they take responsibility for that content - but these are my conditions.

tinaz said...

Bill,

I respect the fact that anyone can set up their own blog, however your blog, which is political, is also important to others.

I have notice that many other blogs do not censor their readers and do not concern themselves with defamation because it is the opinion of the reader and not the publisher. By censoring others, you give doubt to your own limits within your industry, as to what you are really prepared to write about. I suspect you know way more than you led on but for fear of being shut down, you play it safe.

I hope that you will reconsider your position and that you soon come to realize that playing it safe won't cut it in the long run but telling the truth and telling it as it is, is what is most needed in these times.

Tina Z

Anonymous said...

@ tinaz (Tina Z) - BT will "know as a journalist that it is crucial to know what others believe", because "All comments must be approved by the blog author." Which means that everything that is submitted is read by BT - but not necessarily posted.

IANAL It is my understanding that by taking on the responsibility of 'approving' ALL comments BT is also assuming "defamatory or libelous" content will be held against him per$onally.

This is not a site (like Digg or Reddit) that gets thousands and thousands of comments - a volume so big it would not be economically possible to read every entry - and the site owners makes NO attempt to even pretend they look at individual comments before they go 'live'. The big sites usually have a way for 'offensive' comments to be reported and then evaluated by the site's owners. It is my understanding that the courts treat the big sites differently because of the way user comments are handled.

Remember: IANAL

Please also keep in mind that independent bloggers do NOT have the financial and legal backstop that the corporate media scribes have.

Anonymous said...

Tieleman is acting responsibly in monitoring the comments posted on his site and makes that clear to anyone who wants to post. Note that under the "leave your comment" section on his blog appears this caution, "Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author."

There is a concept in defamation law described as "republication". Journalists get into trouble when they republish defamatory statements made by others. It is no excuse for the journalist to say that he or she was simply repeating the statement of others. It is the journalist's responsibility to verify the accuracy of what he or she publishes.

DL said...

Tina. Bill has taken a position about things that appear on his website. He can be sued as he said on things that show up on his site. It says eachime the message will be printed when approved . Lots of blogs have the same rider.

Maybe you could write something you know and can prove in this case. John Les has been around for a long time in municipal and Provincial politics. He has stepped down while a investigation is on going. Check out the legislature question period. In that location people can say a lot of things and without fear of being sued. Quesiion period today might be a bit lively as comments will be made .

Come to think of it, should you know something or think something that might be of value for or against the man, drop an email to MLA's on either side of the house. Or the guys doing the investigation.

Bill Tieleman said...

I received another posting from Tina Z and have had to edit it for potentially defamatory comments. I want to point out that I don't have the time or ability to independently verify claims made by posters and sometimes that's why a comment is rejected or edited.

Claims may or may not be true but if it seems possibly libelous I will not publish it. If you include links to reputable online sources to back up your comments, I will attempt - if possible - to check them and post if I am satisfied.

Lastly in answer to Tina Z's question - no, I am not dictated to by anyone regarding this blog.

- Bill Tieleman

Here is the EDITED version of Tina Z comments:


During the time of Pinochet nobody could complain about him, now would it be fair comment to say that the public and the press cannot really complain directly about Wally Oppal and his brother Harry.... SECTION REMOVED.

I also wrote that it is only in British Columbia that the AG hires special prosecutors, thus giving the appearance of conflict of interest, since the lawyers hired by the AG's office are also criminal lawyers, playing on both sides of the fence.

I hope that Bill is not being dictated by others. I say this because I have noticed when I make a comment about Wally Oppal and his brother, my comments are not published, yet my comments made are based on what I have read in the paper and thus should Bill be sued, than the other papers ought to also be sued.

I understand Bill's concern and therefore I ask him to please send me back my comments at citizen@justice4you.org and advise me where in his considered opinion I wrote something that was libelous in any way.

In the meantime, I stand by what I wrote because I know it to be true, otherwise I would not write it.

Tina Z

DL said...

Being sort of nosy,I just used the site Tina mentioned citizen@justice4you.org. Nothing happened so where does your information flow from? DL

tinaz said...

Hi Bill,

If you still have some anxieties about the comments I have made, for your records here are the following links:

A-G's brother not charged

http://www.canada.com/theprovince/
news/story.html?id=61a7f455-7e84-
4be0-b635-2f3daf9a2498


NDP wants answers on Oppal probe

http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/
news/story.html?id=3dd03554-140a-
426a-9883-daf82fc1dae7

Province enquiry leads to disclosure of probe

http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/
story.html?id=0be5d7d3-afce
-4384-b68b-e006ba9a3a50

B.C. attorney general's brother target of land deal probe


http://www.cbc.ca/canada/
british-columbia/story/
2007/09/07/bc-attorney.html

Now Harry Oppal was also under investigation for marijuana grow operation.

Tina Z

tinaz said...

DL

citizen@justice4you.org is not a website, it is an email address. The email is linked to a website.

Tina Z

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks Tina for the links to stories on the special prosecutor appointed regarding Wally Oppal's brother.

tinaz said...

Bill,

It appears that John Les has already been cleared or else the following website on the Criminal Justice Conference of 2008 has not been changed
http://www.padoconference.com/

On the left side of the website, click on speakers and you will see that Mr. John Les is one of the first speakers.

Tina Z

Anonymous said...

After watching John Daly from BCTV Global news tonight, I'm starting to get a bit of a different impression.

According to his contacts and sources, Les is really on the sidelines and peripheral to the investigation.

After reading and seeing the whole thing unfold since Friday afternoon, that conclusion seems to pass the "smell test" IMHO.

Anonymous said...

BT:

A libel-chilled reporter is an elite' player piano. Case in point. A UBC student made alleged threats, and both his arrest and identity were made public. And while the man was in custody - with no ability to defend himself - statements as to his character were plastered all over the media. In fact, police solicited additional inculpatory evidence.

Then there was the YVR incident, wherein a Polish immigrant ended up dead after taking taser hits from police. RCMP spokesmen made immediate inculpatory comments on his conduct, while they have concealed the identity of the cops and attempted to coverup video evidence.

Let me say it: generally, BC reportage is cartoonish.

Budd Campbell said...

Whatever comes of this police and special prosecutor investigation, I am quite happy that John Les is no longer the Solicitor General, and I hope he never resumes the portfolio.

Les's purely political attitude towards the re-introduction of photo radar for high crash locations like Patullo Bridge demonstrate that he is completely incapable of making sound policy decisions.

Furthermore, provincial jails like the North Fraser Correctional Centre off 256 Street in Maple Ridge are way over capacity in terms of their number of inmates. Maple Ridge Council has asked for answers on plans for expansion. Les's attitude is that they'll get round to it when they get round to it, yes they're overcrowded, and at some point in the undisclosed future the BC Govt may actually do something about it. In the meantime, enjoy your day.

Anonymous said...

Posters questioned the mechanics of the SP appointment process. Where a police service initiates a criminal investigation, they start an agency file and inform Crown Counsel of same. From the date of filing, the Criminal Code allows them 6 months to either recommend prosecution or not, unless circumstances require continuing the investigation beyond the statutory limit.

Where a bias issue may arise, prosecutors must inform the Criminal Justice Branch (AG) of the investigation. Should that agency agree that independence is in jeopardy, they may recommend appointment of a special prosecutor who may assess police evidence, re. sufficiency for prosecution. In the matter of the Solicitor General, his Deputy - Alan Seckel - made the appointment. However, given that Seckel serves at the pleasure of the SG, it is highly doubtful that information of the appointment didn't get to Oppal and Campbell.

Why did Les continue to work as top cop, in face of said criminal investigation? He claims to be innocent, and it appears that police didn't disclose a prima facie case warranting charge recommendations, by the time of the appointment. Why did Les resign? In the current state of public affairs in BC, general Charter nullification prevents exercise of freedom of expression in answering that question.

Is it legal for criminal justice personnel to conceal criminal justice investigations from the public? No, unless secrecy advances justice, an issue of an offence against the public MUST be disclosed; it is not done so in BC, because the rule of law is not respected by our officials. Two weeks ago the RCMP disclosed that they were investigating a man for a hit and run after a youth was killed while on his way to the YVR. Reporters staked out the alleged offender's residence, and published statement questioning his character. He has yet to be charged. The media-political tandem works on a rule: elites enjoy exculpatory circuses, while the rest of us face inculpatory pillarization. Had the Seckel circus not been in session, members of the public might have contributed to the evidence package, for or against the AG.

Defamatory Libel is a criminal offence in Canada; however, it is only invocable by public officials. In fact, in the Supreme Court of Canada case of R v Lucas, one year sentences were upheld against 2 protesters who were found to have libeled a cop. No police service has ever investigated a public official for Defamatory Libel, not withstanding the escalating body count of destroyed lives piled up in the Canwest-RCMP/VPD cartoon justice lunacy. That is why elected and appointed officials toss mud, with absolute impunity.

Anonymous said...

Someone raised the Glen Clark persecution. I don't describe it as a prosecution, because Clark presented unassailable exculpatory evidence that the supposed unlawful transfers that a police and prosecutorial tandem used to found a Breach of Trust charge, were made in barter in lawful quid pro quo.

Did criminal justice officials act to influence the BC election, that butchered the NDP? Since freedom of expression is suppressed in BC, I have no right to speak to that. Did the RCMP initiate a criminal investigation in order to conduce election of the Harper government? I am chilled, but today's Globe and Mail yet again embarasses Canwest cartoonists on that issues.

For an exemplary of press release scribing, posing as journalism, read the Province's sensationalist report on hero-cops v doped up car thieves. If it bleeds, it leads.

DL said...

Tina says. citizen@justice4you.org is a email address connected to a web site. So what web site? Or are you not willing to tell us DL

tinaz said...

The website address connected to the email is www.justice4you.org

Tina Z

Bill Tieleman said...

Once again I remind posters about the laws of defamation - I have had to reject another comment and the following comment has been edited for the same reasons.

I am not in the business of editing postings nor defending myself in court over defamatory statements made by others, so please think twice and edit judiciously BEFORE sending comments to me.

Here is the EDITED version:

ANONYMOUS SAID:

I am in an unusual position to know some things that have made me do some thinking and I'm wondering if this is the only investigation...

SECTION REMOVED

I have reasonable and specific knowledge of something that makes me suspect that there is either another investigation ....

SECTION REMOVED

If my information is valid then my suspicion is that there is either bigger news ahead or else the Chilliwack investigation ....

SECTION REMOVED

I am hesitant to start naming names and document/plan#s - I have checked out enough documents via the internet to confirm that the information I came across via the funny coincidences of life could be found by another, if they knew where to start.

In order to go further I would have to be an investigative reporter (which I'm not) or else find people who know enough about the Chilliwack/Abbotsford area during Les' early life ie from 1954-1999.

Since I am quite a distance from the area and have no connections of the type I need I can't really go much further.

Should there be anyone who knows of some person or entity that is actually interested in investigating things I am capable of being specific enough up to a point where discovery of almost all that I'm aware of would be inevitable.

I will monitor the comments in case anyone has a name of someone appropriate.

DL said...

Tinaz
Thanls for directing me to the website. One more bookmark