Pre­mier’s top ad­viser had ac­cess to key ev­i­dence

RAID ON LEG­IS­LA­TURE: Ken Do­bell went through cabi­net files be­fore po­lice IN THE HOUSE

The Province - - News - Michael Smyth

The shock­ing 2003 raid on the leg­is­la­ture cre­ated a bizarre and un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion for the po­lice, prose­cu­tors, politi­cians and par­lia­men­tar­i­ans.

Bash­ing down the door of a crack house or grow-op is one thing. But this was the leg­is­la­ture, the cen­tre of our democ­racy, the peo­ple’s house.

The leg­isla­tive “precincts,” as they’re known, op­er­ate un­der their own an­cient rules and priv­i­leges. At the be­gin­ning of ev­ery ses­sion, MLAs ap­prove a bill called “An Act to En­sure the Supremacy of Par­lia­ment” to drive the point home: This is the seat of power in B.C.

So what hap­pens when the cops show up with a search war­rant and start haul­ing away the con­tents of fil­ing cab­i­nets and com­puter hard drives? Can any flat­foot flash his badge and start rum­mag­ing through the cabi­net laun­dry ham­per?

Hardly. The cabi­net op­er­ates in the strictest se­crecy. Cabi­net min­is­ters swear an oath to en­sure its se­crets are pre­served.

In a sys­tem where par­lia­ment is supreme, a spe­cial process had to be worked out to en­sure the ev­i­dence col­lected in the raid was pre­served and the in­ves­ti­ga­tion al­lowed to pro­ceed, all while the supremacy of par­lia­ment was re­spected.

That’s why the B.C. Supreme Court set up the ev­i­dence-vet­ting pro­to­col I de­scribed in Tues­day’s col­umn: All the ev­i­dence was sealed in a locked room and only four peo­ple, who signed a se­crecy agree­ment, were al­lowed to look at it.

Thus, it could be de­cided which doc­u­ments could be turned over to po­lice and which would re­main se­cret due to cabi­net “priv­i­lege.”

Ken Do­bell knew about this pro­to­col. Pre­mier Gor­don Camp­bell’s deputy min­is­ter and clos­est ad­viser was kept in the loop dur­ing the pro­to­col’s de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to a gov­ern­ment e-mail trail.

Do­bell also knew the se­ri­ous­ness of the sit­u­a­tion: Three for­mer se­nior gov­ern­ment in­sid­ers are charged with ac­cept­ing bribes, in­flu­en­ceped­dling and money-laun­der­ing in the gov­ern­ment’s $1-bil­lion sale of B.C. Rail to CN Rail.

The reve­la­tion that Do­bell re­viewed sev­eral of the most cru­cial cabi­net doc­u­ments in the case be­fore re­leas­ing them to the po­lice is mind-bog­gling. He was not cov­ered by the Supreme Court pro­to­col. He did not sign the un­der­tak­ing not to dis­cuss the ev­i­dence.

“This could jeop­ar­dize the trial,” NDP jus­tice critic Leonard Krog, who re­vealed Do­bell’s in­volve­ment, told me yes­ter­day.

Now Krog has writ­ten to the deputy com­mis­sioner of the RCMP ask­ing for a sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Do­bell bomb­shell.

The doc­u­ments that Do­bell re­viewed were to be used by the po­lice to con­duct in­ter­views with for­mer cabi­net min­is­ters Gary Collins and Ju­dith Reid and three se­nior bu­reau­crats, Krog notes.

“Mr. Do­bell . . . at no time swore an un­der­tak­ing not to dis­close in­for­ma­tion about those doc­u­ments and the use the RCMP in­tended to make of them,” Krog wrote yes­ter­day to RCMP Deputy Com­mis­sioner Gary Bass.

“Mr. Do­bell, due to his unique po­si­tion in the gov­ern­ment, had greater day-to-day ac­cess to all the par­ties to the RCMP in­ter­views than al­most any­one in gov­ern­ment.

“Given the grav­ity of the im­pli­ca­tions of th­ese facts, I ask that the RCMP be­gin a sep­a­rate crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion im­me­di­ately.”

There was no im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion from the RCMP to Krog’s re­quest. What a mess. I can only hope the gov­ern­ment’s ap­palling han­dling of the ev­i­dence doesn’t de­rail the case com­pletely so the pub­lic gets its an­swers.

[email protected]­rect.ca

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.