Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sudden John Les resignation raises many questions about how top cop secretly investigated for 9 months

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday April 1, 2008

No Les of a mystery


The solicitor general wasn't supposed to know. Nobody was supposed to know.

- Attorney General Wally Oppal on RCMP investigation of John Les

The sudden Friday afternoon resignation of Solicitor General John Les due to an ongoing police investigation poses more questions than a week's worth of the quiz show Jeopardy.

Questions like: How can B.C.'s minister responsible for policing be under RCMP investigation for nine months without his cabinet colleagues having a clue?

And how do unelected bureaucrats and police get to decide not only what, but when the public and elected politicians learn about possible allegations of impropriety against their boss?

Premier Gordon Campbell says he only found out when Les called to resign that the cabinet minister was part of an RCMP investigation involving land deals in Chilliwack in the 1990s, when Les was mayor.

Attorney-General Wally Oppal says he didn't know either until just before his officials issued a news release saying independent special prosecutor Robin McFee was appointed in June 2007.

The news release was only prepared after a CBC reporter asked if Les was being investigated.

That can't give anyone much confidence in B.C.'s unique special prosecutor system, which rightly removed politicians' ability to interfere with criminal investigations.

But it's ridiculous to allow B.C.'s top cop to be secretly under RCMP investigation when Les was dealing with critical decisions on policing, crime prevention, correctional services, lotteries, gaming, liquor and much more.

The system needs to be changed so that police and the special prosecutor have very limited time to make a decision to either continue the investigation and inform the public or drop it.

It's important to remember that Les has not been charged with any crime and hopefully will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

But how can the public have confidence in the justice system if it appears that authorities are unwilling to disclose that the man in charge of the police is himself being investigated?

It's also telling to look back at a previous example. On Jan. 27, 2003, John van Dongen, then B.C.'s agriculture, food and fisheries minister, resigned when he came under police investigation over allegations he informed a fish farm of an impending inspection.

Van Dongen said then: "I was advised last night by the premier, who was informed by the attorney general, that a special prosecutor will be appointed to assist the police investigation."

In a far less significant case, the attorney general learned of the investigation from his officials, told the premier and the minister temporarily resigned.

So how come B.C.'s top cop stayed on the job with police investigating him for nine months?

Good question.


Budd Campbell said...

I really don't know much about criminal investigations, but the thought crosses my mind that if my past business or financial behaviour is being looked into by the police or by other regulatory inspectors, there's not much chance I won't learn about it, at least once they start interviewing people. Someone they have interviewed who is not a bank official or some one else sworn to secrecy is going to let me know that the police were asking about me. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Bill, could this be a witch hunt? With Campbell's Ministry of Defence (more info pls) sounds like the May trial is going to begin...John Les may not have had inside knowledge of the shannigans of 'the raid'., and now someone needs to be in place to play the aloof, goof! No offence to StoneWally, but he does come across soft!

BC Mary said...

This can't be true.

The new Solicitor General is John Van Dongen ... from Abbotsford ...

replacing John Les ... from Chilliwack???

I guess that's supposed to make us feel better.

Cripes, couldn't they have appointed an MLA from some isolated barren rocky northern community?


Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Premier's new Press Secretary will clear up any communication problems on this issue.

(note: she does not look like "your" grandmother)


Anonymous said...

Football Pool: How many RCMP Investigations & Special Prosecutors will be appointed to investigate the BC Liberals while they are in power in BC?

Of all the backbenchers & caucas members Gordon Campbell & his BC Liberal backroomers could appoint as Solicitor General to replace John Les, who is now currently under investigation by the RCMP, they chose John van Dongen??? Has the world gone mad? Or at least the BC Liberals?

See our blog for more on this, including some of the news stories about RMCP investigations into the Honourable Mr. Van Dongen's involvement in BC's aquaculture.

Anonymous said...

As I see it, Van Dongen was "chosen" because he is a"trusted" toadie. Had he appointed someone new ( a backbencher) someone who may, at some not too distant time, got "hot" feet and decided to "unload" it could spell the end to this corruption. Jo5ey

kootcoot said...

"The solicitor general wasn't supposed to know. Nobody was supposed to know.

- Attorney General Wally Oppal on RCMP investigation of John Les"

Attorney General Oppal seems to be an expert at "not knowing" stuff, and also especially skilled at not disclosing anything that he might know because it is before the courts or even because it is not before the courts. Either way Stonewally has nothing to say, well, that is unless he happens to have an agenda to promote, then just reverse everything I said above.

"So how come B.C.'s top cop stayed on the job with police investigating him for nine months?"

Stephen Owen may be correct with his statements this morning - that the Special Prosecutor legislation worked properly by not disclosing anything about the Les investigation for nine months. One can certainly see how helpful a lack of public general knowledge/secrecy might be to police doing the investigation. And of course there is the matter of protecting the reputation of someone only being investigated (Ralph Goodale comes to mind - oh that's right he wasn't even under suspicion - Plump Stephen just needed some votes).Maybe this paragraph exceeds the bounds, because as one of Bill's Anon-0-Mice pointed out yesterday:

"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."

However it seems to me, that in the case of the Solicitor-General, top Law Enforcement Official in the province being investigated, someone should have whispered into the appropriate ears and then someone (the subject of the investigation) could have, at least temporarily, stepped down for "family reasons" or to teach Ethics at Liberty University's Regent Law School.

It is difficult for this hayseed to give credence to the idea that the RCMP could spend 9-12 months interviewing former business associates and others in the community that gives the impression of being a "fiefdom" of his family, while Mr. Les remains blissfully unaware of it all.

Mind you it could be true, and the moon could be made of green cheese after all. One would think though, that Mr. Les would have had some better answers prepared for the time it did become public if indeed he had any time at all. Of course Eliot Spitzer seemed to think he would never get caught patronizing high-class hookers. These guys seem to have great mysterious powers of da Nile.

If the kinds of activities re: using influence to affect zoning/ALR land issues that are alleged in this case aren't criminal i.e. "illegal," then the law truly is a donkey (another word for donkey is usually employed here).

Mr. T., I'm a bit dismayed by what appears here to be mis-placed partiality:

"It's important to remember that Les has not been charged with any crime and hopefully will be cleared of any wrongdoing."

I would hope that he is only "cleared" of any wrongdoing if he indeed DID NOT engage in any wrongdoing. Unfortunately in BC today, if indeed he is cleared, that wouldn't necessarily convince me that he actually was innocent. I seriously doubt that I am the only citizen with doubts about the integrity of the British Columbia Justice System.

Anonymous said...

Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer: "His [John Les] resignation as solicitor-general -- unavoidable in light of the disclosure that he was under investigation by police -- was a blow for his own ambitions, a disappointment to friends, family and supporters.

But his departure from the cabinet created no hole of any importance in the government. So far, it makes for an improvement." - Published: Thursday, April 03, 2008.

Anonymous said...

The CBC News this evening had the ever expanding file on John Less. seems the ALR commission is asking some question. We sure get some starnge folks in government here in BC. DL

Anonymous said...

Then there is this Vancouver Province article on Grant Sanborn charging for an ALR application that was never done.

Does anyone know who the CBC reporter was that broke the John Les story last Friday?

Anonymous said...

Something crooked-going-on at Chilliwack City Hall

There was the story broken by the Vancouver Province in their February 08, 2008 issue titled Developer took advantage of me when I was sick, retiree claims
Former Owner Says: Consultant (Grant Sanborn) tried to get land pulled from ALR in my name

....An ALR removal application must receive a resolution of support from the local city council before being considered by the land commission. Three months after Sanborn submitted the application, Chilliwack City Council passed a resolution of support, forwarding it to the land commission for consideration.

Anonymous said...

This is the
correct link
to the Vancouver Province "Developer took advantage.........."

Would you be kind of enough to update the previous one, or leave this as an amended copy?

Thank you in advance.

Anonymous said...

it appears to be a real family affair ---les buys --the other brother build---and corney les sells----what a racket, just honest bussiness men,who happen to have a crystal ball --that tells them when previously rejected applications to change zonings--are now going to be approved----it seems above board to me ! it makes for an interesting cabinet------gordon(the gargler)campbell and his chamber of horror

Anonymous said...

This web site (BC Legislature) implies that MLA John Les is still the Solicitor General of British Columbia


Anonymous said...

Government website has changed Mr. Les' status.....

and just what is his status with the ongoing RCMP and ALC investigations?

If the RCMP were not involved, would the Attorney General of BC be required to answer questions regarding the John Les affair?

Anonymous said...

Farmland probe enters next stage
176 files sent to land commission for its investigation into boundary adjustments

Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, June 06, 2008"

"The Sun has created a searchable database of the list of addresses being investigated. It is posted at www.vancouversun.com", well sort of.

All you have to know is what address, what road name, to look for. Kind of strange database, if you ask me. However, coincidently I suppose, there is a terrific database to use for just such addresses, one that has to with Tree farm nurseries. The 176 files don't come anywhere near being a perfect match except in the case of two.

I've always imagined that Chilliwack's farm land was for edible varieties of plants/ dairy industries, .....for human consumption, but the ALC has taken a more liberal approach and included trees...... trees ..... and more trees. Fact is the Fraser Valley farming community is starting to look more like a forest than row upon row of corn and hop fields.

Here is the Vancouver Sun database and just to give you a leg up on 153 files, and save you a minimum of four hours, on what to search for (road name only required):

42415 Adams
42420 Adams
42447 Adams
43386 Adams
43470 Adams
43570 Adams
43675 Adams
42280 Keith Wilson
42354 Keith Wilson
10633 McSween
43651 South Sumas
42872 South Sumas
44340 Sumas
6980 Bailey
8450 Bailey
8492 Bailey
9011 Bailey
9285 Bailey
9365 Bailey
9485 Bailey
7285 Banford
10690 Banford
11613 Banford
48620 Banford
49160 Banford
49810 Banford
50160 Banford
11635 Bell
6485 Camp River Road
49560 Camp River Road
50231 Camp River Road
48022 Campbell Road
50825 Cannor
47947 Carey
48545 Carey
48535 Castleman Road
49843 Castleman Road
49746 Chadsey Road
49952 Chilliwack Central
51424 Chilliwack Central
7635 Chilliwack Central
9255 Chilliwack Central
51546 Chilliwack Central
7785 Chilliwack Central
8101 Chilliwack River
9071 Elkview
10351 Elkview
9950 Ferrv
9955 Ferrv
9980 Ford Road
9990 Gibson
10010 Gibson
46983 Gibson
47035 Gibson Road
47095 Gillanders
5274 Grigg
5335 Grigg
5352 Grigg
47095 Grigg
47145 Grigg
5352 Hope River Road
5618 Hope River Road
5888 Hope River Road
5955 Hope River Road
6181 Hope River Road
5515 Hopedale
5787 Hopedale
5805 Hopedale
42025 Hopedale
42181 Hopedale
43072 Hopedale
43842 Hopedale
43892 Hopedale
6465 Keith Wilson
6465 Keith Wilson
6485 Keith Wilson
6485 Keith Wilson
6605 Keith Wilson
6635 Lickman
7080 Lickman
7084 Lickman
10005 Lickman
10065 Lickman
10619 Lickman
10640 Lickman
10658 Lickman
10775 Lickman
47561 Lickman
48893 Lickman
10800 Lindell
10880 McConnell Road
10902 McDonald
47508 McDonald
9641 McGrath
10197 McGrath
11160 McGrath
11288 McGrath
47036 McGrath
48398 McGrath
51821 McGrath
47060 McGuire
47392 McGuire
48668 McSween Road
48912 McSween Road
49122 Nevin
49212 Pelly
49350 Poole
6698 Prairie Central
7954 Prairie Central
9495 Prairie Central
10050 Prairie Central
10074 Prairie Central
10200 Prairie Central
10572 Prairie Central Road
47999 Prairie Central Road
5065 Prest
6225 Prest
48045 Prest
5240 Reeves
5260 Reeves
41475 Reeves
41485 Reeves
42245 Rose Road
43651 Rose Road
44035 Smith Road
10700 Solway
49120 Solway
8298 Solway Road
8400 South Sumas
8405 South Sumas
8501 South Sumas
8520 South Sumas
9363 South Sumas
8485 Standeven Road
5325 Trans Canada Highway
41739 Upper Prairie
41995 Upper Prairie
47742 Upper Prairie
47760 Upper Prairie
49420 Upper Prairie
49944 Upper Prairie Road
49968 Upper Prairie Road
51065 Wright Road
6580 Yale Road
6660 Yale Road
41905 Yale Road
46693 Yale Road
46825 Yale Road
46986 Yale Road
47138 Yale Road
47238 Yale Road
51728 Yale Road
46755 Yale Road

Anonymous said...

Memo outlines officials' 'grave concerns'

"Top bureaucrat didn't like how development files were handled in 2000
Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, June 09, 2008"


Now we are being told that there isn't 176 addresses to go along with the 176 files, there are 380> addresses in 176 files!

The above list that I generated had a lot of repeat entries, which I deleted because of the frequency of repetition. The Vancouver Sun's database isn't clear on how the information is to be interpreted, but I really have to wonder what the ALC has been doing for the past 10 years for all of British Columbia if they can't keep a tab on what one insider, and developer(s), were doing in the green heart of BC, aka Chilliwack.

Anonymous said...

Bill, can comment on and post the most recent CTV stories? Thursday and Friday last week, (week ending December 12, 2008) BC Hydro and Chilliwack City Hall doing non-compliant boundary adjustments, the City not providing a complete list to the ALC, and etc. There is a lot to talk about here. Now that we have found thanks to excellant work by the Sun's Lori Culbert that Les's church's boundary adjustment files were not sent, the files for his own property, the files for a second Bell Road site Les developed at 11088 McSween Road. New info - By the way,10945 to 11075 Bell Road, another Bell Road boundary adjustment, involving 8 lots in one application (Kooyman's Chilliwack Cattle Company)and that file apparently was also NOT sent to the ALC. Did City Hall de-selective all files involving the Les' or the Kooymans? How many homesite lots were created? At 2 acres each perhaps, this is starting to add up to hundreds of acres of land taken out of production and a lot of valuable real estate someone got to sell.