On May 3rd, 2010 Special Prosecutor Terrance Robertson issued his report on possible offences involving the campaign office of Kash Heed. While recommending a total of nine charges against various members of Heed’s campaign team, Robertson absolved Heed of any involvement.
The next day Robertson resigned, citing a perceived conflict of interest related to the contribution his firm made to Heed’s campaign.
The issue of the day was Heed, his campaign team and who did what to hide the illegal leaflets. But Robertson’s perceived conflict got some play and on May 19th Attorney General Mike DeJong announced the appointment of Stephen Owen to review how special prosecutors are appointed.
With the new allegations against Heed that have emerged it’s hard not to question both the terms of Owen’s appointment and the conclusions he came to.
In other words, with every new allegation Owen’s appointment and report looks like a whitewash.
Here’s the problem: Owen didn’t review the actions of Special Prosecutor Robertson to determine if Robertson’s apparent conflict had real repercussions for the case. And that means Owen couldn’t answer the real questions in the case, such as:
- Did Robertson let Heed off based on reasoning that wasn’t supported by the evidence gathered in the case?
- Did Robertson ensure the thoroughness of the investigation, particularly with regard to Heed?
- Did the police agree with Robertson’s decisions regarding Heed?
From the recently released warrants it appears that the investigation was on-going when Robertson made his decision not to charge Heed. Search warrants were still being obtained and executed and some of those warrants led to the current allegations. As well, the NDP has revealed the Chief Electoral Officer ordered an audit and was pursuing legal action against Heed as Owen was ‘investigating’ the issues.
With the blinders Owen assumed, the best he could come up with was to recommend “when a MLA is the subject of investigation, no lawyer who has donated, or whose firm has donated, to that MLA’s campaign be appointed as special prosecutor.” But even that recommendation had no basis in an actual investigation of what occurred.
Which leaves a lot of big holes. For example, what should the rules around special prosecutors be if the government itself is or could be the subject of an investigation, for example if it decided to sell a railroad corruptly?