I’m not surprised with the BC Supreme Court ruling on the Auditor General’s application for documents in the Basi Virk indemnity case.
My understanding is that some of the billings – the ones protected by privilege – might reveal the names of various government officials who – under the protection of anonymity – provided information to the defence.
It wasn’t just crazy bloggers who felt the BC Liberals were running a crooked process with the BC Rail sale. There were unhappy campers inside the government.
So fair enough that those folks remain protected from retribution. And we know that in this government there is lots and lots of retribution (see Rich Coleman).
The issue to me is whether the Auditor has access to the agreement itself and the documents – emails, memos etc… – that reveal how it came to be made.
Last year in a highly defensive post on his blog PlantRant, former Attorney General Geoff Plant put the issue clearly: was the agreement an illegal inducement to plead guilty?
Plant, without access to the document, claimed it wasn’t because after all ‘how could they. That would be illegal.’
Here’s what the former Attorney General wrote about the plea deal:
“Government decided to release the three defendants from any claim for repayment of their legal fees. The defendants pleaded guilty. What is clear is that there was no legally binding deal. There couldn’t be. The waiver of recovery of fees was not and could not be an inducement to plead guilty.”
Plant in effect claims that the government ‘guessed’ that all that stood in the way of the deal to end the trial with a guilty plea was the $6 million bill. So it made the offer in the belief that a guilty plea would miraculously follow.
Of course that’s not what happened.
There was and is a legally binding deal. Like others, I’ve seen what was claimed to be a copy. The piece of paper I saw says if guilty pleas were entered, the guilty parties would not be obliged to repay the $6 million in legal fees. As well as being written down it’s signed by both parties to the deal.
If the copy is real, Plant is wrong and the government provided an inducement to plead guilty.
That would open up a whole new can of worms. Why was it necessary to induce a guilty plea? Were they guilty? What was the government afraid of from the trial process? Etc… In other words it begins to look like a classic cover-up.
If the Auditor has the document he must make it public. If he doesn’t his audit cannot be considered complete.
BTW, the document also has a non-disclosure clause.
Now where did that convenient little poll come from?
Mustel Research hasn’t been in the field publicly since last May. Now they’ve popped up with a poll that makes the traditional outlier type poll look reasonable.
While every other public poll is showing a 13 to 15 point gap between the major parties Mustel shows 10.
Not that Mustel’s record is that good. Last election Mustel was one of the least accurate polling firms, under-reporting the BC NDP by 4+ pts. and over-reporting the Green party by 4 pts. They did get the BC Liberals close to right.
This latest poll continues the streak. It shows the NDP 3-5 points less than all the other pollsters. If you correct for Mustel’s traditional built-in bias, the poll shows a result consistent with Angus Reid’s 15 point difference.
Just think of them as BC’s version of Rasmussen in the US election.
PS. The methodology is unusual to say the least. It was taken with a small sample size over an unusually long period.
PSS. Mustel’s built in bias couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that BC Lib MLA Joan MacIntyre is a former co-owner with Evi Mustel. Or that the government and several of its agencies are big clients.