Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NDP MLA Leonard Krog claims Premier Gordon Campbell misled BC Legislature

On February 25, Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog stood up in the BC Legislature to raise a substantial point of privilege regarding the conduct of Premer Gordon Campbell on the issue of disclosure of evidence in the Basi-Virk case.

Krog has asked Campbell to apologize because: "the Premier knowingly misled the House on May 28, 2007, by stating that the Premier's office was not involved in the review of documents when he knew that a process that included the Premier's office was in place since 2004 and continued until at least 2007."

Regrettably due to time constraints I was unable to post this yesterday but here is the full text from the Hansard "Blues" - the draft version of debate in the Legislature.

Point of Privilege

L. Krog: I rise to speak to my point of privilege first raised in this House on Monday, February 18, 2008, and then again reserved this morning. I wish to outline the factual support for my contention that this House should find that the Premier has misled this House and that he be directed by the House to apologize. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

The matters which consolidated this point of privilege were brought to my attention on Monday, February 18, 2008, and so I rose in the House on that day to register my point of privilege.
In addition, new matters came to light on Friday, February 22, 2008, which raise an additional point of privilege, which I will also address in my remarks. I rose this morning at first opportunity to reserve my right to speak to this point of privilege.

The following outlines the factual basis for my points of privilege. During Committee of Supply, spring session 2007, the Leader of the Opposition asked the Premier questions about the process regarding the disclosure of documents in Regina v. Dave Basi, Bobby Singh Virk and Aneal Basi.
The Premier responded on numerous occasions that the Premier's office was not consulted nor involved in the determination of which documents should be disclosed.
I quote the Premier: "There is a special prosecutor involved in this. The Premier's office does not have a direct input into that, certainly not with this government." That's Hansard, May 28, 2007, afternoon sitting.
The Premier again: "I can tell you this right now, hon. Chair. This Premier's office is not involved directly in that." Hansard, May 28, 2007, afternoon sitting.
Again the Premier: "The Deputy Attorney General will determine who in fact and what kind of documentation will be made available within the confines of the law as it currently exists, and he will not consult with the Premier's office with regard to that." Again, Hansard, May 28, 2007.
Last week it came to my attention that an entirely different protocol was developed and implemented in January 2004.
According to an article authored by a Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and published in the Parliamentarian, after consultation with the Speaker in December 2003 the government developed a five-stage protocol to handle these potentially sensitive cabinet documents.

That's contained in "The execution of search warrants in the British Columbia Parliament Buildings," Kate Ryan-Lloyd, the Parliamentarian, 2004, issue 2, page 158.
According to the article, four of the five stages were: (1) a lawyer selected by the government must sever any documents that contain deliberations of the province's executive council; (2) the associate chief justice reviews these documents and decides if they are relevant to the police investigation; (3) if confidential cabinet documents were found to be relevant to the criminal investigation, those documents would be sent to the deputy cabinet secretary to confirm that the material is to remain confidential; (4) if the documents in question are considered to be confidential, the associate chief justice asks the special prosecutor and other prosecutors to argue in closed court whether the information is to remain confidential in law. That's at page 160.
Further to this, I located an article dated January 15, 2004, in The Vancouver Sun, which describes a fifth step that would take place after the documents were sent to the deputy cabinet secretary, who was at that time Ms. Joy Illington: "If Illington requires the assistance of the executive council, she must appear before Dohm in a closed courtroom and ask permission to discuss the confidential matter with the executive council." "Charges expected soon in drug probe," Lori Culbert and Jim Beatty, The Vancouver Sun, January 15, 2004, page A01.
The authors of the story summed up the situation in this way: "The documents considered privileged will go through a longer vetting process that can involve the provincial government's executive council."
In addition, in December 2007 the government counsel George Copley advised the court that he did not begin to receive advice from the Deputy Attorney General on matters of privilege until July 2007. "Basi-Virk defence alleges solicitor-client privilege claim instructions in case came from B.C. cabinet," Bill Tieleman, December 14, 2007 — Tieleman blogspot, etc.

Finally, on February 22, 2008, The Province columnist Michael Smyth reported on an interview with Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel. Smith noted: "In the immediate aftermath of the raid, the government established a protocol for reviewing internal records to see if they should be released or deemed privileged and kept under wraps. Two bureaucrats from Campbell's office" — that's the way the quote reads — "Joy Illington and, later, Elizabeth MacMillan, were assigned the task, but that changed last year over concerns that the process looked too cozy." "Premier should stay clear of B.C. Rail," Michael Smyth, The Province, February 22, 2008, page A04.
Michael Smyth then quoted Allan Seckel as saying: "There was a concern, as this appeared to be getting a political life to it, that it would be prudent to not have the Premier's office involved in any way in these decisions."
Therefore, I have raised my matters of privilege, reserved on two occasions, in that the Premier knowingly misled the House on May 28, 2007, by stating that the Premier's office was not involved in the review of documents when he knew that a process that included the Premier's office was in place since 2004 and continued until at least 2007.
I am also submitting, hon. Speaker, the required accompanying motion.

Hon. M. de Jong: Thanks, Mr. Speaker, and to the member for the submissions. I reserve the right to respond more fully in due course. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]


Anonymous said...

what has the government said in response or do we know yet?

Anonymous said...

The government responded after 6PM on Tuesday. Odd time for a response.

Still not clear as to when the shift from the Premier's office to Seckel was made!

Anonymous said...

isn't this the proverbial "smoking gun"?

BC Mary said...


Yesterday, I saw this bit of information in Times Colonist by a journalist who shall remain nameless unless you go to my place and read up on his really awful column. But this nugget was included:

" ... Dragged into the fray, Seckel said Monday the protocol was set up soon after the raid because the B.C. Rail deal was still actively under consideration by cabinet. It hadn't been decided yet ..."

Which, if accurate, tells us that the BCRail deal had NOT been finalized at the time of the raid on the Legislature. That it could have been stopped. Just as the Roberts Bank deal was stopped.

Heck, I thought the BCRail deal was finalized in November 2003, didn't you?

So if true, the privileged documents will explain to the public why -- under such a cloud of extreme suspicion -- the Campbell Cabinet chose to push the BC Rail deal through?

Wouldn't you think they'd have been taken by surprise, and react with shock, like "Omg, the sale is tainted?!! We must look into this before we go farther!" But no. It seems it wasn't like that at all.

I think these Prosecution bozos need help to bring this total affair into the open.

TV cameras should be activated and the hearings and trial beamed out on the government TV channel. Then we can all hear what's going on. It's been done before, on trials much less significant than this one.


G West said...

Interesting piece in the the Globe this morning Bill...