Province appoints Special Prosecutor to deleted emails investigation **updated-he has since withdrawn!!?

** Post updated below…. The special prosecutor has now recused himself since this was posted at 11:00 am

From Jennifer Moreau, of the Burnaby Now:

This just in! The province is appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s recent report to government. Great news, considering the awful state of our access to information laws in B.C.

When reporters file freedom of information (FOI) requests, they’re often delayed getting back to us, most of the content is greyed out, and sometimes we’re just told there are no records. There are a couple years worth of backlogged complaints. Let’s hope this investigation improves things.

November 19, 2015 15-23

Appointment of Special Prosecutor

Victoria – The Criminal Justice Branch (CJB), Ministry of Justice, announced today that Greg DelBigio, QC has been appointed as a Special Prosecutor to provide legal advice to the R.C.M.P. in relation to an investigation arising out of Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s recent report to government.

As disclosed in the report, the Information and Privacy Commissioner referred information to the R.C.M.P. for investigative consideration. This information related to a request for access to records that was made of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the alleged conduct of an individual who was employed as a Ministerial Assistant at the time of the request.

On November 10, 2015, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Criminal Justice Branch, M. Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten, QC (the ADAG), received a formal request from the R.C.M.P. that she consider the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to provide police with legal advice during the course of their investigation.

The ADAG concluded, based on the request and the information available to her about the alleged circumstances of the case, that the appointment of a Special Prosecutor is in the public interest. Under the Crown Counsel Act, the ADAG will consider appointing a Special Prosecutor where some aspect of an investigation, or prosecution file, carries a significant potential for real or perceived improper influence in prosecutorial decision making. A Special Prosecutor works independent from government, the Ministry of Justice and the CJB.

On November 13, 2015 the ADAG appointed Mr. DelBigio as Special Prosecutor in the matter. He has been given a mandate by the ADAG to:

 Offer such legal advice to the investigative agency as may be necessary in the circumstances;

 Conduct an independent assessment of any Report to Crown Counsel (RTCC) that may be submitted and make the charging decision he deems appropriate in the exercise

– See more at: http://www.burnabynow.com/opinion/blogs/community-conversations-1.752422/province-appoints-special-prosecutor-to-investigate-following-privacy-commissioner-s-report-1.2115392#sthash.1Okv3VhW.dpuf

I love how the government appointed this prosecutor on November 13th… and didn’t issue a press release until today – after the fall legislative session has ended. No questions, again.

It will be interesting to see how and where this investigation goes.  Keep in mind in the case of the alleged deletion of the Ministry of Transportation emails by George Gretes, that occurred in November 2014.

We now know that the BC government removed section 5 of The Offence Act from Bill 18 ( Information Management Act), in May of this year, 2015. Prior to this removal, it was a general offence to improperly destroy government documents or records. I wrote about that twice when it happened in May.

We also know now, that those penalties were removed just two days prior to Tim Duncans revelations, about the deletion of those Highway of Tears emails. Mere days after my blog posts, the NDP released this:

duty to document

It begs the question: Because Section 5 of the offence act still applied in BC with respect to document destruction, at the time the emails were deleted, would it apply to any offences committed before it was removed?

To date, the premier has never been asked about the removal of the offence act ( and associated penalties) from this bill. There has been no questions put to Minister Amrik Virk either. You may want to ask why.

Is this government Complicit, or Incompetent?  You decide.

Full background on this entire story, including the questions still standing on the appointment of Loukidelis, here: https://lailayuile.com/2015/11/12/complicit-or-incompetent-questions-continue-to-pile-up-for-the-premier-who-continues-to-ignore-them-all/

*******************************UPDATE**************************************

 

I’ve out with my phone off all afternoon and just catching up. Since this posting at 11 am, the special prosecutor has withdrawn. A new prosecutor, hopefully one with no connection and truly arms length to government, will be appointed. http://www.cknw.com/2015/11/19/special-prosecutor-withdraws-from-investigation-into-b-c-deleted-emails-report/

Special prosecutor Greg DelBigio who was appointed to independently assess any decision on possible charges into a former government staffer who deleted government emails and allegedly lied under oath.

Neil MacKenzie with the Criminal Justice Branch says DelBigio has withdrawn over a potential case of conflict of interest.

“Questions were raised in relation to another matter in which Mr. DelBigio is acting as a defence counsel, the branch hasd some further discussions with DelBigio about that.”

It turns out he is also the defence lawyer for a B.C. Liberal party staffer charged with Election Act violations related to the ethnic outreach scandal.

The branch says out of an abundance of caution and respect for the importance of maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice, he’s withdrawn.

The branch is now looking for a new special prosecutor.

40 thoughts on “Province appoints Special Prosecutor to deleted emails investigation **updated-he has since withdrawn!!?

  1. Pingback: Province appoints Special Prosecutor for deleted emails investigation | CityHallWatch: Tools to engage in Vancouver city decisions

  2. Laila, with regard to your question regarding section 5 of the Offence Act, Section 11(i) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that any person charged with an offence has the right if found guilty of the offence and the punishment for the offence has been varied between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser punishment.

    Like

    1. Laila

      So even if it was still a ‘General offence’ at the time of the FOI… because that particular section has been removed and it is not longer an offence to to improperly destroy documents, there may be no penalty or a very small one….. which is rather convenient, if you ask me.

      It really bothers me that this aspect has never obtained the media coverage it should have, despite my posts having been shared and read thousands of times.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. The removal was a deliberate legislative action and therefore must have had a purpose.

        Our legislators apparently are of the view that the reasons behind laws they enact are none of the public’s business. There are some very unsavoury terms that aptly describe governments of that nature. Totalitarian is one that comes quickly to mind. BC Liberal is another.

        Like

  3. How can Gretes resignation from Todd Stone’s ministry of Transportation be accepted and still be paid a salary until there’s a settlement of the issue (Special Prosecutor) of deletion of emails? Why weren’t the Health ministry researchers given an option of either / or too, resignation / suspension with pay or being fired without a salary?

    Just what has Gretes resigned from?

    Has the July 14, 2014 Order In Council (OIC) designating him as the Ministerial Assistant (Step 1 remuneration) to Todd Stone been rescinded with a new OIC stating that he has been suspended with pay at Step -5 remuneration?

    No!
    http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/search/oic/ancestorsearch?p=Gretes&ancestor=oic_cur&q=CIVIX_DOCUMENT_ROOT_STEM%3A%28Gretes%29&s=0&e=20&nFrag=5&lFrag=100&xsl=%2Ftemplates%2FsearchResults.xsl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laila

      More to come later – I’m sicker than sick with a damn horrible cold. But good notes both NVG and Lew.

      Interesting point brought forth to my by a former detective to me on twitter. https://twitter.com/mcmounce/status/667434569432440832

      As reported in January, at that time DelBigio was representing Mark Robertson in the EthnicGate case. http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Court+proceedings+postponed+Liberals+ethnic+outreach+case/10771083/story.html

      “Lawyer Greg DelBigio, who represents Robertson, said he had not yet had a chance to review the disclosure, but reiterated that his client intends to plead not guilty and fight the charges. He would not say whether his client remains employed by the Liberal party.”

      Cassidy Olivier has posted to this effect online… https://twitter.com/cassidyolivier

      Like

        1. Laila

          I don’t know, I’m not one to whine and complain about being sick but wow, this one is unreal.I am feeling very whiny,cranky and would rather be under a blankie for a few days..lol.. does that count?

          Liked by 1 person

  4. What are the Terms of Reference?

    I respect the judgment of anyone Laila trusts but the problem is more likely to come from government interference and stonewalling.

    And what the hell difference does it make? No one ever resigns or, God forbid, is fired by a premier who respects Parliamentary traditions.

    I say it again, if you want to know how good a premier Bill Bennett was, just consider what we’ve had since

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laila

      You’re bang on Rafe- the terms of reference will ultimately define and or limit the scope,as most do.

      And those directly impacted will or have been, tossed under the bus or perhaps went there willingly- we know full well how names pop up all over the place in new positions elsewhere after the most dogged scandal.

      But for all the scandals this particular premier has faced under her watch,the health care firings and this are the most reprehensible. Why? Because a man took his life. Other lives and reputations were ruined without any care or regard while this government and its ministers misled RCMP and the public. And that is the difference. It is one thing and rather expected that any government will work to cover its wrongdoings in any regard, but for goodness sakes, when it comes to peoples lives? Rod MacIssac is not here to say anything,if he would.The missing and murdered womens families & their communities deserved more than this kind of blatant lack of regard. And even now as the MOT holds more meetings up north and fails to invite critical stakeholders… even after they already know what to do. More time wasting,more money wasted.

      For once, I hope there is some kind of justice and accountability to be had. Call me naive for continuing to hope and work towards that, but it matters.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Unh….(I read the article a few times…am I missing something?). I am sure Mr. DelBigio is a great and ethical guy just covered in integrity and all that. And I am sure that he has the brains to get to the answers of the erased email policy (since just about every citizen over 16 can do the same) but isn’t Mr. DelBrigio the lawyer of record for for those charged in Ethnicgate? And wouldn’t that mean that Mr. DelBrigio was paid by the government to defend Mr. Robertson? And so, isn’t his appointment verging on, well, something less than pure objectivity and impartiality? NOT only does justice need to be done, it needs to be seen to be done. This has a taint of ‘insider’ to it. This a comment not intended to impugn the reputation of Mr. D but it is intended to ask about the political impartiality of the appointment. And, perhaps, Mr. D’s judgment in accepting the appointment. At the very least it suggests the list of impartial lawyers with integrity available to the the government is short indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Very shortly after I wrote that above, Mr. D recused himself. Clearly there were ‘pressures’ mounting from the minute he was appointed. So that poses the question: why was he appointed in the first place? Why did he accept in the first place? What travesty of the thinking process had ensued? I was a mediator and arbitrator for 20 years (NOT a lawyer) and, by any standard, small potatoes. But that appointment hit me in the face like a fish. If this small potato could see the blatant wrong-headedness of it, where the hell was the AG on this? Where the hell was anyone at the beginning of this? What was that? An ‘ooops!’?

          Like

  5. Evil Eye

    It is good to hear Rafe and his position.

    Yes the terms of reference are important, as they will be adhered to the letter.

    If a special prosecutor is now in play, it means the RCMP have been busy and maybe another raid on the ledg is in the offing?

    What is with BC’s politicians? Do they think they are anointed by god and can do as they will?

    Deleting of emails was a Ken Dobel thing as he specialized in shedding dubious documents, deleting emails and not keeping record of official government business. It seems now that the entire government has all but deleted itself from existence!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mosko

    The appointment of Mr. DelBigio is yet another blatant slap in the face to the people of BC. The Liberal government, under Clark, is so devious, so devoid of ethics, so obssessed with control and so lacking a sense of morality, I truly think they find it impossible NOT to rig things.

    The trend has been so relentless, and so blatant , that the public has, for the most part, stopped noticing. With every scandal that goes unpunished, the bar is further lowered.

    Like

    1. Laila

      I’ve just arrived home – phone off all afternoon – to see that since this was posted, DelBigio has recused himself and withdrawn as special prosecutor. I have quite a bit to catch up on….

      Like

  7. For someone who has NEVER been a prosecutor, that must make him Special because DelBigio offers over 15 years of experience as Canadian criminal defence counsel.

    Mr. DelBigio’s legal practice covers a wide range of legal subjects including: income tax and GST related charges and investigations, Charter of rights issues such as search and seizure, search warrant challenges, and constitutional challenges to the validity of legislation, as well as driving offences, fraud, murder, and drug charges, proceeds of crime, extradition matters, and appeals to the British Columbia Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. There’s something we should all keep in mind relative the controversy surrounding the appointment of a special prosecutor in this case. This government doesn’t give a fig whether there’s one in place or not. It will do whatever it takes to achieve its goal, which is to ensure no one at or close to the top is held to account.

    There was a special prosecutor in place during the BC Rail trial. And what did this government do? It did exactly what the appointment of a special prosecutor is supposed to prevent. In secret. Government officials, with the knowledge of the Attorney General, negotiated a separate plea deal with the defendants at the same time the special prosecutor was negotiating his plea deal, without his knowledge. That deal was illegal, if you believe the writings of former Attorney General Geoff Plant, and obligated the Deputy Finance Minister to sign a release for which he lacked authority.

    Would the special prosecutor have demanded a tougher sentence in his plea deal had he known the government was sweetening the pot with $6.2 million for the defendants, who by all accounts would never have pleaded guilty otherwise? Would the judge have accepted the guilty pleas had she known of the separate plea deal (which surely constituted the largest inducement in Canadian history) despite her duty under the Criminal Code not to accept an involuntary guilty plea? These are the questions that should not have arisen because there was a special prosecutor in place. But that didn’t matter to this government.

    So what happened to the authors of this end run around the law, the special prosecutor, and the trial judge? The Attorney General and the Deputy Finance Minister went on to become key players in the health ministry firings. The Assistant Deputy Attorney General who signed the secret agreement was promoted and is the current Deputy Attorney General. And the then Deputy Attorney General who oversaw the whole thing was just hired by this government to review the recommendations of the Privacy Commissioner in its triple-delete records scandal.

    History tells us it doesn’t really matter who is appointed. The real vacancy to be filled is under the bus.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. otr

      Makes me think about special prosecutor appointed for BC Rail, Bill (William) Beradino. Many observers thought he acted much more like a defense lawyer for the government instead of an independent special prosecutor. Maybe that was no surprise as Bill Beradino was a former law partner of Geoff Plant at the Vancouver law firm of Russell & Dumoulin, later known as Fasken Martineau.

      Yes Geoff Plant, the BC Liberal Cabinet Minister and BC’s Attorney General from 2001 to 2005. I could never figure out why Geoff Plant didn’t run for a second term under Gordon Campbell but in hindsight perhaps he was trying to get distance from BC Rail, the same as his cabinet colleagues, Gary (Farrell) Collins, Judith Reid and Christy Clark. Four very high profile, successful Cabinet Ministers who suddenly quit politics after serving only one term in government. And then Ken Dobell left eight months later.

      Bill Beradino was the THIRD special prosecutor for BC Rail. The first two, Josiah Wood and then Len Doust, resigned very shortly after taking the appointment.

      And in another remarkable coincidence, Allan Seckel, was appointed Deputy Attorney General (Deputy Minister) in 2003—supporting his former law partner Geoff Plant. In 2009 Seckel went on to become Deputy Minister to Premier Gordon Campbell and then resigned rather unexpectedly in March 2011. The stinky Basi-Virk plea deal was made in October 2010.

      And for another ironic twist, former FOI Commissioner and former Deputy AG, David Loukidelis, who brokered the $6 million Basi Virk plea deal, has been brought back by government to give government advice on triple delete! The same Loukidelis who suddenly resigned in May 2012, just as there was pointed blog commentary and exchanges with Geoff Plant about BC Rail.

      Hopefully one day truth will out.

      Like

    2. Laila

      Excellent point Lew. And I agree. It is very much like the Loukidelis appointment, which in my opinion is a waste of time.

      Denham has been making recommendations to the Clark government for years, as I detailed in the links embedded above. Three times and now again, she has recommended Duty to Document legislation that would make it law for the government to document its activities and decisions, instead of using verbal orders and post it notes like the premiers office does.

      She has also asked for more offences and penalties for wilfull and intentional improper document destruction – critical considering we know the govt removed the offence act. No deterrent when you know there is no punishment or a small fine!!

      Her most recent recommendations to the committee are mentioned here, by Bob Mackin http://www.theprovince.com/news/information+watchdog+says+probe+vancouver+city+hall+will+delve+deeper+than+investigation/11530520/story.html

      If the government does not enact every single one of her recommendations to the letter, it is clear the intention is to continue to keep prying eyes from their activities and decisions. And to be honest, I expect nothing less. That Virk still has a job as a minister is appalling.

      Like

    1. Laila

      Off topic but still an excellent read for every single reader and the first link is very easy to understand.

      This is a huge issue. But for many people it is hard to understand – keeping it simple is key and rising rates is something we all get – who hasn’t cringed when you see your hydro bill in the winter? I had readers emailing me last year who had a hard time paying them.

      Norman Farrell has done and continues to do excellent work on this particular file.

      Like

  9. e.a.f.

    Between appointing on the 13 and the announcement Christy and Lake made the announcement of more money for scans. Guess they thought they’d put out some “good news” before the truth leaked. However the new isn’t going to do much, just isn’t enough. The “anointment” of a special pros. is just so special. In the world of the photo op queen, it is nothing and nothing will happen. Everything will be deleted and there will be no punishment. What is a little lying, cheating, etc. when you have 4 dead kids in care and keeping kids whose parents are on welfare on starvation incomes.

    The Premier and her cons/b.c. lieberals are going to do whatever needs to be done to stay in office and “give” most of the province away. The voters in the province will continue to put up wih it.

    Like

    1. Laila

      The good news cannot temper the growing discontent. And we will all still be here looking for answers after Christmas. And by then, we will hopefully have the Ombudsman report as well as Loukidelis’ report , which comes out on the 15th or thereabouts I believe.

      Convenient timing that one.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Les

    After so many scandals by so many Premiers (sorry Rafe Bill Bennett included) Is it any wonder the Feds don’t take B.C . politicians serious. They must be viewed as Mafia lead puppets by the rest of the country. Is it time to make broad changes to how our elected officials are allowed to govern. Would an A.G.elected with the authority to dissolve the Legislature . whenever serious scandals such as the latest version occur. Regardless of the Ministry involved the Premier is responsible for the policies and procedures therefore must be held accountable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jack Hackett

      Not only the AG. I am convinced that parliamentary reform is required. Starting with the Speaker Of The House, this position must be an appointment, much like the Elections B.C. Officer. The responsibilities of the position would include the guidance of meaningful deliberations in the house. The position would have to be given some teeth. My two bits.

      Like

    2. Laila

      From the statements made at the very few pressers she has had to speak to on any of these issues, I have never heard her take a leadership position of that responsibility. And it is indeed, her responsibility as the Premier.

      Like

  11. nonconfidencevote

    The ONLY way that the taxpayers of BC will ever see a truly independant investigation of the BC govts ever expanding ‘conflict of interests” file will be the appointment of a “special prosecutor” .ie One so far removed from the incestuous cesspool that has become the BC politics/media/big business lovefest…..is to perhaps get a crown prosecutor from Ontario?
    I really dont care what it costs.
    $6 million? The price of the Basi Virk “deal”
    $10 million? A pittance for the Highway of Tears families.
    $100 million? The Mt Polley environmental clean up

    The BC Liberal/Socred garbage heap needs a buldozer to push it to the compactor.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. nonconfidencevote

        Unfortunately if the former auditor who resigned in disgust and went back to Australia(although he may regret THAT decision!

        http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiFv–0oqDJAhWFlIgKHbGlCJcQFggbMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vancouversun.com%2Fnews%2Fformer%2Bauditor%2Bgeneral%2Bresigns%2Baustralian%2Bafter%2Bpersonal%2F11380236%2Fstory.html&usg=AFQjCNGDXjPl1nnM_6fTAQoH-G0YBb9qng&sig2=vY4R2vckk_8Z1J_BZj6yUg)

        is any indication….NOTHING will happen in this provice until the next election and we may see a change in govt.
        But that being said.
        A partisan NDP majority doesnt help me sleep at night either.

        Like

        1. Laila

          Regardless of what happens in 2017, Libs are busy campaigning now on the govt dime, padding the pockets of long time associates while they are able to… https://www.biv.com/article/2015/11/bc-government-launches-new-5-million-ad-campaign/

          Amazing how Clark made all the School districts slice and dice their budgets last year, to the point where some districts are in dire financial situations… and yet we have all sorts of money for things now..

          Like

  12. Two things to add to this excellent comment thread.

    George Gretes will have lots of incentive to run the “everybody was doing it” defense. Can you say “plea deal”?
    Secondly, I wonder what the critical mass is of informed active minded voters to inspire change.

    The trail of Clark govt scandals in two types, the complicit, and the incompetent, (think Quickwins or triple delete versus Mt Polley or IT boondogles) is breathtakingly long. It seems because we only deal with one or two disasters at a time, we don’t realize the cumulative effect.

    Like

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