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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for June 24th, 2009

Missing emails in BC Rail case

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BC Rail 4606 photo by Stephen Rees

BC Rail 4606 photo by Stephen Rees

The Globe and Mail is going to be my source for this news – but of course it is all over the media today. And so it should be.  The facts are that four years of B.C. cabinet e-mails were erased. The defense says that their clients were were acting on the orders of their superiors – and they maintain the e-mails could prove that. And the law in BC is that emails must be kept for seven years and even then “eliminated only with the consent of the legislature or attorney-general. There is no indication that consent was ever given.”

Supposedly there are protocols in place to ensure that information is retained – and only “transitory” emails can be deleted.

This could result in the whole case against Basi and Virk collapsing – which I suspect has been the government’s fond hope all along. Very little happens inside the present BC Liberal government that is not directly controlled by the premier’s office. Gordon Campbell has always been known as a control freak and a micro manager. And the way this case has been slowly peeling back the layers shows that the decision to sell off BC Rail – and the process by which that was conducted – was not something that could have been left in the hands of a couple of junior ministerial assistants.

Lawyers for Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk have asserted that, to the extent that their clients leaked confidential information, it was done with the knowledge, consent and direction of their political masters.

And on the face of that that is not something that is so surprising – nor at all unlikely. But short of self incrimination – and absent any hard evidence – is that ever going to be tested anywhere?

The BC Liberals have also been given a fairly gentle ride over this affair. It is nothing like the furore and fuss that surrounded the fast ferries or Glen Clark’s deck. Yet somehow the voters recently decided that Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals were a safer pair of hands for a province facing economic uncertainty. How on earth did the spin doctors manage to pull off such a coup? And why has the media – in general, with a few notable exceptions – generally got tired of this long running saga?

And if the evidence has been destroyed – and the court case ends inconclusively – what possible hope is there that there will be any other process to reveal what actually happened? And given that what has always been clear – Gordon Campbell said he would not privatise BC Rail before an election but then went ahead and did it anyway – and then won a subsequent election – is there really any hope that justice will ever be served? And will the scandal now becopme who destroyed the emails and on whose instructions – and not how come BC Rail ended up in the hands of CN?

Written by Stephen Rees

June 24, 2009 at 10:34 am

Posted in politics