Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My MLA: Jane Thornthwaite, Liberal - UPDATED

Ah, the Special Prosecutor system worked again, for the BC Liberals. Today, Kash Heed applauded the work of Jane Thornthwaite's Special Prosecutor Mark Jette and issued this statement. At least, it was attributed to Mr. Heed but I haven't yet confirmed authenticity with him directly.
"Once again the Special Prosecutor has kept a BC Liberal politician from being persecuted by police and media. Jane was stopped at a roadblock after a night of drinking with government colleagues and an apparently inexperienced police officer failed to recognize her. That led to the embarrassment of arrest after being forced to blow repeatedly into a breathalyser. She should have been allowed to proceed home and, if police really needed a breath sample, Jane could have given one the next day.

"Unfortunately, reporters found out about her arrest and pressured Ms. Thornthwaite for a statement. Flustered and under pressure, she admitted to drinking and driving and apologized. Luckily, our system allows for a Special Prosecutor to be appointed when Liberal politicians might be harassed by an ignorant and overenthusiastic local prosecutor who doesn't understand how government officials should be handled.

"Fortunately, Mark Jette took his time and considered all the options in a case that required intense review, lasting over a year. No doubt, Mr. Jette sacrificed greatly to handle the file. He is after all, a very successful and senior lawyer. He showed his skill by convincing Jane to plead guilty to a minor motor vehicle act charge that might not even have been proved in court. Doing it this way allows the crown to apply the fine that Ms. Thornthwaite generously agreed to pay to Mr. Jette's legal costs. Everyone's a winner."
It is pretty clear that Jane Thornthwaite was just unlucky in this case. Many people drink and drive without being caught. Thornthwaite’s lawyer Don Muldoon told Judge Carol Baird Ellan that she had consumed alcohol that night but showed no signs of intoxication. A wry observer might suggest that showing no signs is itself a sign of a practiced drinker. However, there must have been indications of intoxication that led to those pesky breathalyser test results, which were well over the legal limit of the day and twice the level of today.

So much for "taking full responsibility."

The remainder of this post was first published July, 2010.
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April 28, 2010 Ms. Thornthwaite said,
"My actions were inexcusable. Drinking and driving is dangerous and completely unacceptable; I know that and make no excuses for what I did.

“I know what I did was wrong and I will take full responsibility for my actions . .
."
June 25, 2010 Ms. Thornthwaite said,
"Not guilty."
Gordon Campbell said:
"People make mistakes, and I've made them myself,"
.
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14 comments:

  1. Norm, you have my sympathy for being represented by such &%$#@##!D. What does that say about your neighbors, I assume most of them must have voted for her.

    I feel almost insulated from the scum as my own riding which was represented by Corky Evans was just prior to his retirement gerrymandered - but in spite of that I am still represented someone I need not be ashamed of or embarrassed by - Patricia Conroy. She, instead of getting into the paper for criminal acts was recently lightly publicized for participating in a three way living kidney transplant/donation process. Her husband (former MLA) needed a kidney, but she or any other relative wasn't a match, but she was able to match someone in Ontario and someone else was able to match Ed, etc. I can take pride in my MLA - and not look at my neighbors as idjits or worse!

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  2. I could accept the mistake had she actually done what she said she would do, take responsibility. But, the reversal demonstrates hypocrisy, if another demonstration were needed. The label of BC Liberal is really sufficient.

    By the way, I hope you read the small piece here posted last year about Corky Evans. Can we get him back?

    http://northerninsights.blogspot.com/2009/05/political-columnist-charles-campbell.html

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  3. I wish people would quit calling what she did a MISTAKE. There is no mistaking the fact she made a conscious CHOICE to drink an alcoholic beverage. There is also no mistaking the fact she made a conscious CHOICE to get behind the wheel of her car. As a former impaired driver (20 years sober) I can tell you that she did NOT mistakingly get in her car while on her way to a pay phone to call a taxi.

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  4. Good point Stephanie. The decision to avoid driving needs to be taken before the first drink, before one leaves the house, because judgement degrades when alcohol flows. I was too flip in my earlier comment and you are right. It is not a mistake, it is an extremely bad decision that has led to countless deaths and injuries to innocent people. Particularly as a politician and alleged community leader, Ms. Thornthwaite should stop looking for a phony break that erases her consequence. If she gets a favor like the impaired North Van RCMP officer did when his colleagues "lost" the videotape from the booking jail, people will suppose favoritism applies. Better for her political career to step up and take the punishment provided by law.

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  5. Correction, my MLA is Katrine Conroy, Patricia Conroy is/was a very excellent singer that was playing around Vancouver in the eighties when I was doing the same thing, I may have even backed her up on mandolin or guitar back in the day - I guess my unconscious or sub-conscious just took over.

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  6. No argument that she should have pleaded guilty. However, the evidence against her is not very good--in fact it's quite weak. Wait for the case to play out and you tell me what you would have done.

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  7. I am sure any lawyer would say that she should have said nothing afterward but, given what she did say, she is already guilty in the court of public opinion. Of course, the standard of proof is considerably lower than in Provincial Court where we know some drinking drivers go unpunished.

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  8. Because, Campbell was convicted of a criminal DUI, he would have to persuade Thornthwaite not to resign. I guess if she did, Campbell, himself could have then, be told to resign. The message from Campbell and Thornthwaite is, you may drink and drive, as long as you don't get caught, or kill someone. They did not set a good example, for our young drivers. The both of them, still should resign, those are criminal offenses.

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  9. Norman, you've clearly misunderstood what "taking responsibility" means in politics. What it means is that you give a speech saying you accept responsibility. Once you've done that, you've absolved yourself. A public apology from a politician is equivalent to at least 10 years in jail for a regular person.

    Satire aside, I'm confused by the need to appoint a special prosecutor to charge a backbench MLA. Is the government allowed to appoint a special prosecutor whenever they feel like it?

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  10. Despite evidence to the contrary, media treats the ADAG as non-partisan and the SP as meaningful.

    Crown Counsel Act:

    7
    (1) If the ADAG considers it is in the public interest, he or she may appoint a lawyer, who is not employed in the Ministry of Attorney General, as a special prosecutor.

    (2) A special prosecutor must carry out his or her mandate, as set out in writing by the ADAG, and in particular must
    (a) examine all relevant information and documents and report to the ADAG with respect to the approval and conduct of any specific prosecution, and
    (b) carry out any other responsibilities respecting the initiation and conduct of a specific prosecution.
    (3) If the ADAG appoints a special prosecutor, the ADAG must advise the Deputy Attorney General
    (a) that a special prosecutor has been appointed, and
    (b) the name of the special prosecutor.
    (4) If, after a special prosecutor receives the mandate under subsection (2), the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General or ADAG gives a direction to a special prosecutor in respect of any matter within the mandate of the special prosecutor, that direction must be given in writing and be published in the Gazette.
    (5) Subject to the mandate given to the special prosecutor by the ADAG or to a directive referred to in subsection (4), the decision of a special prosecutor with respect to any matter within his or her mandate is final, but a decision not to approve a prosecution may be appealed by a law enforcement officer under the process established by section 4 (4).

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  11. It really makes me mad, one law for Liberal MLAs, another set of laws for the rest of us.

    It was also infuriating to see the almost complete lack of mainstream media coverage of Kash Heed not being charged or required to resign his seat and run again.

    It was Kash Heed and the Liberal party who directly benefitted from his dirty tricks electoral campaign. But instead some underlings get scapegoated again (just like Basi-Virk).

    I hope BC voters have had enough.

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  12. If anyone knows the BC Judicial system is corrupt, the people of BC certainly do. The trial of, Campbell's corrupt sale of the BCR, was a totally laughable farce. They should have got, a real kangaroo as judge. The blatant crimes of the RCMP, are also swept under the carpet too. Their punishment is, a years vacation with pay, or, a transfer to another detachment.

    Why didn't Thorthwaite, explain who she was? She would have never been charged in the first place. To the people of BC, she is still a criminal, that got away with her crime, because of who she was.

    Campbell is still the criminal, who thieved and sold our BCR, and, with his criminal charge of his DUI, he will forever be a criminal, to the decent people of this province.

    We citizens see, one set of laws for criminal politicians. Another set for the everyday people.

    BC has finally beat Quebec out, as the most corrupt province in Canada. The BC Liberal government, is still the most corrupt government, the country has ever known. Campbell is still the worst, corrupt premier, that BC has ever had.

    I don't see Christy ever sorting out, Campbell's corrupt sale of the BCR. It is said, that is hitting far too close to home. So she says, been there done that, we are moving on. But the BC people are not going to forget about this. Campbell thieved and sold the citizens BCR. What happened to the money from the BCR real estate? That was worth a fortune.

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  13. Thanks for that, Norm. I have to say I'm disappointed (not in you). My understanding was that special prosecutors were hired when there was serious potential for conflict between a normal Crown prosecutor and the person being charged, i.e. a Cabinet minister or a senior civil servant.

    I imagine that was the original intent behind the law, too, but it seems as though it's loose enough that they can appoint a special prosecutor just whenever they want.

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  14. You are correct. This is an example of a good idea gone bad, co-opted by the political bureaucracy to suit its purposes. They want sensitive cases handled by mature and sympathetic senior lawyers, not some disaffected underpaid and overworked staff prosecutor. The purchasing power of the government when it comes to legal business is so large, there is an endless supply of lapdogs ready to take assignments that are worth plenty of money. Imagine the file shuffling and the building time records when your client pays top dollars and will patiently wait years for results.

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