Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tieleman: "Ken Dobell is not a crook - he is an arrogant fool." Former top Deputy Minister to Gordon Campbell guilty on lobbying violation

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday March 18, 2008

Does punishment fit the crime in B.C.?


"Who said he's under a cloud?"

- Attorney General Wally Oppal after Ken Dobell charged

Only in British Columbia would a guilty man continue to advise a guilty government, with neither showing an ounce of shame.

Ken Dobell was Premier Gordon Campbell's senior deputy minister for years. Last week, Dobell pleaded guilty to breaking the Lobbyists Registration Act and repaid the $7,000 he received for lobbying while in violation.

That Act was introduced, debated and passed while Dobell himself held the most powerful government staff position.

Even worse, special prosecutor Terence Robertson said he considered whether Dobell had also violated Criminal Code Section 121 regarding "influence peddling" and concluded the evidence supported a "substantial likelihood of conviction."

Fortunately for Dobell, Robertson said prosecution would not be in the "public interest."

I agree. Ken Dobell is not a crook. He is an arrogant fool.

Dobell thinks himself above the rules. So does Campbell, who was outraged at suggestions he cut ties with Dobell, and Oppal, who could not see any "cloud" over the disgraced ex-deputy.

They just don't get it. And their arrogance has consequences.

Dobell is the first person to be prosecuted since the Lobbyists Registry Act was passed in 2001.

And Dobell, despite running the government that passed the Act, avoided serious penalty because he regarded himself not as a lobbyist but a "content consultant," and didn't register on time.

Any future prosecution of unregistered lobbyists - a big presumption given the utter lack of enforcement to date - will no doubt trigger the "Dobell Defence" wherein a lobbyist will also confess ignorance of the law.

Dobell's charges created a sudden spike of worried lobbyists registering, as 24 hours' Sean Holman detailed.

Dobell even said in an essay written to avoid prosecution for also failing to register as a federal lobbyist, that: "Over the course of my work in government and since leaving it, I now recognize that I have encountered a number of individuals doing work that would likely fall under the ambit of the legislation who may not be registered."

Oh really?

Meanwhile, let's not forget that Dobell has a history of thumbing his nose at government regulations intended to protect and inform the public.

Dobell told a 2003 freedom of information conference that he rarely takes meeting notes and deletes most e-mails to avoid their disclosure through FOIs, as required by law.

Meanwhile, Dobell will continue lobbying the provincial government on behalf of Cubic Transportation Systems, continue working for both the province and the City of Vancouver and probably continue to draw a substantial city and provincial pension in addition to his $250-an-hour fees.

And in B.C., that's how we punish the guilty.


Anonymous said...

You're damn right it's arrogance Bill.

But the crook thing brings to mind another statement from the 70's.

I am not a crook: Richard Millhouse Nixon

And this government just doesn't get it at all. The arrogance is sickening. But while they run around with the blinders on there are not just a few people out there who are changing their vote.
My own brother who is a life long Liberal will never vote for that party again since the Hawaii debacle. In his words "Campbell shoul have quit".

Anonymous said...

Oh give me strength - strength to defeat this arrogant government. Is there no end to what they can do? Apparently, no.

Anonymous said...


It is interesting to compare the way this special prosecutor Robertson handled this case as opposed to the way Mr. Berardino handled his responsibilities.

4 and half years later, still no trial stemming from the raid on the legislature. 4 and half months after Robertson is appointed Special Prosecutor, a decision not to charge Mr. Dobell with influence peddling under section 121 of the CCC and a charge under the Lobbyist Regisration Act which results in a discharge.

An interesting comparison.

BC Mary said...

Great column, Bill.

Kind of feels as if we're marching off to an election campaign. And why not!

If only the Gordon Campbell government were actually Liberals.

But no, it's a rag-tag assortment of Socreds, Reform, CRRAP, Alliance, and Conservatives who decided NOT to be Progressive Conservatives. Oh. And a few beat-up Liberal survivors from the Gordon Wilson era. How inspiring is that.

What do you think of my campaign motto: GET RIGHT - BE LEFT.

Needs work, I guess. But I bet you got the general idea.


tinaz said...

We are back to regulation and the present government, including the Attorney General Wally Oppal, is notorious at not properly regulating its own.

When a violation of the law occurs and the Crown's office decides to not prosecute the individual on the grounds that it is not in the public interest, citizens loose confident in the justice system.

Ken Dobell, a bencher at the law society, ought to have not only admitted to his contempt for regulations but admitted to his guilt and should have paid a penalty.

If the Office of the AG would proceed and prosecute every person who violate the laws of this land, regardless of their denomination, and the penalty would be to pay money, there would be less arrogance with politicians, with the bar and other professionals.

It is time Bill that those in position of trust be prosecuted for violating the laws of this country. Anything less becomes more of the same ---fraud--

Perhaps the Hon. Wally Oppal should consider resigning forthwith since he has given the appearance that certain people are above the law, including himself.

Tina Zanetti

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding us that it was Ken D. who used to shred emails. A well paid jerk with good connections. Arrogant fits well

Anonymous said...

Bill: let me jog your memory here.

Oppal signed an Order in Council to set up the Frank Paul Inquiry, to get to the bottom of why provincial regulators indulged a 1 day without pay penalty to cops who caused a man's death. The issue of Crown Counsel's omission to prosecute was central to those concerns. And now Oppal is seeking to prevent testimony by prosecutors. Unfortunately for him, his predecessor once ordered Regional Crown Counsel, Michael Hicks (now a Provincial Court judge) to testify for the Defence (!) at a Richmond trial. And death was not at issue in that case. Unless he gets a patsy judge, precedent will hold. See for yourselves.

I recall when Mike Harcourt and Moe Sihota put major pressure on a prior government, when prosecutors refused to process Bill Reid, after police recommended prosecution of that former Cabinet Minister. At the time, the "Decision to Prosecute Inquiry" was held to ensure propriety in prosecutorial discretion in the future.

I would arrange for text of the Hicks' testimony, but my MLA - Jenny Kwan - is close to AG Oppal. Kwan and Farnsworth are no match for Harcourt and Sihota.

Elites do well in BC courts. In the Walls-Millard' criminal prosecution, Justice Pat Dohm (Associate Justice, Supreme Court) gave them zero time in jail for bank fraud. Rafe Mair issued several comments on that case:

Anonymous said...

Ive said it before, no laws for outlaws.

Anonymous said...


If a client complains of attorney theft, the Law Society doesn't care; if that attorney doesn't pay his dues, they care.