Monday, December 17, 2007

The Return Of RailGate - Hansard's Revenge

Boss: Sorry, Luke. I'm just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that.
Luke: Nah - calling it your job don't make it right, Boss.
Cool Hand Luke, 1967


Newsy Updates and Nouveau Banter Can Be Found In The Tidbits That Follow The Post



Now, by all accounts B.C. government lawyer Mr. George Copley is a fine and upstanding public servant.

However, it is not Mr. Copley's exemplary record of longterm service to the people of British Columbia that is at issue in so far as his role as the deliverer of the 'solicitor-client privilege' message to the Railgate Court is concerned.

Instead, what we really need to know is who Mr. Copley's boss is.

Reporter Keith Fraser raised this issue in his fine, yet succinct, piece in yesterday's Vancouver Province (stuff in brackets mine):

Kevin McCullough, a lawyer for (BC Railgate co-accused Robert) Virk, told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett (on Friday Dec 14/07) that there is an issue as to who is giving instructions on whether to release the documents (under the claim of 'privilege').

Court heard from government lawyer George Copley that deputy attorney-general Allan Seckel is currently giving instructions to him. Prior to Seckel, it was former deputy cabinet secretary Joy Illington, who reports to the B.C. cabinet.

"The real issue is as to when that shift occurred," said McCullough. "When does the shift occur that puts Mr. Seckel in that position?"

So, having read this far, you just might be asking yourself - why?

Why does it matter who Mr. Copley's real boss is?

Well, because Mr. Copley himself made it an issue when he quoted from an exchange that took place between Opposition Leader Carole James and Premier Gordon Campbell in the Legislature last spring to justify the government's claim of 'solicitor-client privilege'.

However, Mr. Copley, apparently, did not quote from the following passage of the same exchange, which has been recorded for posterity in Hansard, the official legislative record (beginning at pg 8245):

C. James: I certainly would expect that the Premier's office will be involved in deciding documents to go forward and not go forward. We've heard discussion previously about cabinet confidentiality and other questions that sometimes come up.

My question would be to the Premier. Will he commit to releasing documents without invoking privilege?

Hon. G. Campbell: Again, I would go back and say that obviously there are issues with regard to cabinet confidentiality that must be and would be considered in these issues. Having said that, my goal and the objective of the government throughout has been to proceed with an unfettered and, frankly, independent process.

There's a special prosecutor in place, and I will not be involved in those discussions. That has been delegated to the Deputy Attorney General, and he will make those decisions as he sees fit.

It's all there in that last bolded sentence where Mr. Campbell told Ms. James that decisions about document release (ie. privilege), would be made by the Deputy Attorney General NOT him and/or his cabinet (and/or his cabinet secretaries - see reference above).

Now, one could argue about what kind of privilege Mr. Campbell was speaking of wayback in May of 2007.

Specifically, was Mr. Campbell talking about 'attorney-client' privilege (ie. that which was claimed by Mr. Copley last week in the Railgate Courtroom) or was he talking about 'cabinet' privilege?

This is vitally important because they are two very different considerations, and one could easily, and not necessarily incorrectly, assume that Mr. Campbell was actually ceding 'attorney-client' privilege oversight to the deputy Attorney General while retaining the right to oversee 'cabinet' privilege for himself and/or his colleagues (and/or his cabinet secretaries).

Luckily for all of us (including the Railgate Court?), however, Mr. Campbell himself told Ms. James precisely type of 'privilege' he was ceding to the Deputy AG:

Hon. G. Campbell: I do want the Leader of the Opposition to understand what I've done here. In terms of the screening of cabinet documents, all those documents will be available to the Deputy Attorney General. He will make the decision vis-à-vis CABINET confidentiality or any of those issues in consultation with the special prosecutor. He will make the decision without any further consultation with me or anyone in the Premier's office.

So, now do you see why it is so important to find out who Mr. Copley's real boss is?

Because, if it is not the Deputy Attorney General, well......

Wouldn't that mean that some other Boss is really calling the shots and making the decisions here?


Those of you who are card-carrying members of the RailGate Obsessives Club may well be wondering why Mr. Campbell would do such a thing - why would he be willing to part with 'cabinet' privilege/confidentiality? Well, we're not yet entirely sure, but we think that the answer, at least in part, may be buried in the pages of the 'Fairness Advisor's' report that so many of his Ministers made a fuss about at the time that the Railgate deal went down. We've already found some interesting stuff in the interim report and we're currently wading through the final report right now - more on that soon.
Update: Today, Dec 17th @ 1:00pm..... It appears to be a bit of a slow day in Railgate's Studio (ie. Courtroom )54, but we are all waiting to hear if 'Da Boss issues can be cleared up tomorrow when, according to Mistah T (Bill Tieleman), Justice Bennett is going to allow the defence to cross-examine one of Mr. Copley's assistants, Ms. Nancy Reimer, who, apparently, was involved in generating an affadavit that outlined the privilege 'issues' for the court.
Double-Secret Probation Update: As an F-troop-listed blog that knows it's place, we are humbled by all the hits we are getting today, which are most likely due to the most appreciated and prominent linkage from both Paul Willcocks and Ms. Mary. Most interesting, perhaps, is not the sheer numbers but rather the numbers that are coming from both and domains (and very, very, very interesting subdomains).
Crazy-Trained, Pro-Wrestling and/or Mud Wrestling Mania Update: Ever-ready-with-a-quip reader Big Audible Dyne-O-Mite is wondering (off-line, of course - B.A.D. wears their cone of silence proudly and continuously) if the real Boss is not Tony Danza/Banta might it actually be Andy 'Latka' Kaufman?


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