Saturday, December 22, 2012

A March 28, 2012 "Dear John" PlantRant, just won't go away in the Case of BC Rail Trial

But I don’t need to be an armchair political strategist all the time.  - Geoff Plant - February 22, 2012
It should be noted here, that Mr. Plant's Rants archived blog content (2012) is typically reserved for proposals to tweak the Justice system in British Columbia..... but there's one instance that he wades in without a whiff of a political statement ......

March 26, 2012  "Dear John" Van Dongen crossed the floor from the BC Liberal side of the Legislature, to sit as an independent.  He cited that it was his Constituents that were angry at him because the Government couldn't offer a reasonable explanation to BC Liberals mishandling the $6 million Indemnity clause in the BC Trial. ......... Within two days, the former AG of BC is writing a letter to "Dear John" on the topic of the BC Rail Indemnity clause NOT being implemented in accordance to the Defendants agreed upon terms.
There's a "Post Script" (PS),  which  is more informative than the body of the "letter" in the PlantRant  addressed to "Dear John" ......, (John Van Dongen), on March 28, 2012.

A read of the whole document is required but it's curious as to WHY Geoff needed to add the PS.
Dear John,
I understand that one of the issues which caused you to leave the BC Liberal caucus and party is your continuing unhappiness about the so-called plea deal in the Basi Virk cases.  Apparently you have even hired a lawyer at your own expense to investigate your concerns. I don’t know all of the questions that you want answered.  But I am hoping you might answer one of mine.


PS.  Does $6 million in defense costs feel like a lot to pay for a couple of convictions?  Most certainly.  It makes me angry just to think of it.  But governments don’t run criminal trials; lawyers and judges do.  Don’t blame government for the $6 million.  Blame the justice system.  Congratulate the government for having had the wisdom and the courage to seize an opportunity to bring the case to an end. 

"Geoff" tells the Reader in the above, that the BC Government doesn't run criminal trials, and, the Government was not involved in the Plea deal, but his last sentence above indicates that they (the BC Liberal Government) did "Seize an Opportunity to bring the case to an end."   That certainly makes it appear that the Government WAS involved, and not just the Deputy Ministers, because they AREN'T "the government".

Premier Gordon Campbell and the Attorney General of BC are politicians first, Executive Council members second, who did form a part of the majority with other like-minded Free Enterprisers in 2001....... with one sticking point:   Self Preservation, at all costs, covered by taxpayers.

This topic arrived on our desk because of a review of several Posts by The Gazetteer, one in particular:

 "A few days ago Mr. Plant wrote a 'Dear John' blog post in which he asked Mr. van Dongen what he would have done differently with regards to the 'deal' itself." - The Gazatteer
Paul Willcocks of  "Paying Attention":

John Van Dongen has accomplished something at least one very useful thing in reviving a discussion of the many unanswered questions in the BC Rail scandal.

Former AG Geoff Plant offers a useful perspective here. (The dissenting comment is mine.)

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon contradicts Plant here, saying every single Liberal MLA was "appalled" by the $6-million deal that ensured guilty pleas from Dave Basi and Bobby Virk.
Ian Reid argues Van Dongen is absolutely right in a blog post here.

And I refer you to two columns I wrote arguing the smell of the scandal lingers and questions remain, here and here.
Alex Browne - Peace Arch News
Asked about van Dongen's parting shots in the legislature Monday – including criticism over the handling of the lawsuit over the sale of BC Rail – Falcon acknowledged that he and "every single" MLA in caucus had been "appalled" by the decision to pay $6 million in legal fees for former government staffers Dave Basi and Bobby Virk after they pleaded guilty to breach of trust.

"The decision that was made to relieve Basi and Virk of their legal fees was entirely independent of government," Falcon said, adding it was made by the justice branch in consultation with deputies from the attorney general's office and the finance ministry (David Loukidelis, deputy in the attorney general's ministry and Graham Whitmarsh, finance deputy said in an October 2010 statement they had agreed to cover Basi and Virk's legal fees).

Falcon said van Dongen was appalled with the decision, "as was I, as was every single MLA in caucus" – which, he said, led to a full review into "what happened and ways to ensure it didn't happen again."

Geoff Plant of PlantRant blog fame:
........ Later that day the government announced it had agreed to waive its claim against the three defendants for their legal fees amounting to nearly $6 million.  There was a strong public reaction to this announcement.  So strong, that two days later, on October 20, 2010 Deputy Attorney General David Loukidelis felt compelled to release a public statement.  A copy of that statement is readily accessible on the Internet.  I found it at this site which needs to be read in full, and carefully.  So far as I am aware, no one has ever credibly suggested that this statement is factually incorrect.
The use of the opening term such as "Dear John", seems out of place in a matter of something so serious that an MLA felt strongly enough that he chose to Cross the Floor.  He did so to solely gain the right to ask pointed questions of  the BC Liberal Government because it appeared to the Public, and his Constituents, that he was StoneWalled by the Executive Council on every front.
As to the correct way for an "outsider", a Lawyer, to Address a Letter to a Member of the Legislature Assembly, it goes something like this, ........ by a professional Journalist:
Evan Solomon, host of CBC Radio's The House, reflects on the decision by B.C. Premier Christy Clark to cancel the fall sitting of the legislature in Victoria, in his weekly radio essay as heard on The House Sept. 15 (2012).


I SAY Old Man!!! Whatever happened to Shawn Robins from Attorney-general?  The go-to PAB point person on the $6 Million Indemnity file.


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