Thursday, November 17, 2011

Delays suggest Clark hopes for snap election

Keith Fraser at The Province is reporting the Basi/Virk audit is blocked by the Liberal Government:
"Auditor-General John Doyle is heading back to court in a bid to get access to documents related to the government's controversial $6-million legal payments in the Basi-Virk case...

"Doyle claims that access to many documents over which the Attorney-General's Ministry claims either cabinet or solicitor-client privilege have been restricted."
Justice Greyell's reasons for judgement given June 30 provide clear evidence of a Liberal delay strategy. For example, the province said the Attorney-General was guided by Basi's and Virk's ex-lawyers asserting solicitor-client privilege, a right the lawyers did not hold after their ex-clients had waived the privilege.

The latest court action means the provincial government has withdrawn the cooperation promised last spring in Supreme Court:
[38]   In or about April 14, 2011 the Auditor General's office followed up with Mr. Butler to obtain the sought records. Mr. Butler informed the Auditor General's office that former legal counsel for Messrs. Basi and Virk had asserted their client's rights of solicitor/client privilege and confidentiality as per the agreement with the Legal Services Branch. Mr. Butler advised that he believed he was bound to honour that confidentiality and would therefore have to carefully consider any information or document the Legal Services Branch disclosed to the Auditor General.

[39]   Mr. Butler advised that the government would provide any other information and documents, even if they were subject to its solicitor/client privilege on the understanding that by doing so it would not constitute a waiver of the privilege and that the Auditor General would keep the information and documents strictly confidential. (emphasis added - N.F.)

[46]   ...Mr. Butler further indicated that he had instructions to waive any solicitor/client privilege of the Crown surrounding the requested information and would provide the information and records in the event Messrs. Basi and Virk consented to a waiver of confidentiality and solicitor/client privilege.

[66]   The privilege and arising confidentiality belongs to the client: that is, the privilege belongs to Messrs. Basi and Virk. It is only client who can choose to waive such privilege...
Reading through court documents clearly reveals that the provincial government has erected specious roadblocks, consciously preventing the auditor from completing his review. Since the rights of the auditor are clear and Basi and Virk are cooperating with his review, the outcome is certain. However, the Attorney General has already delayed A-G Doyle by almost a year. That is the real objective here.

Perhaps Christy Clark's hope is that she can keep the BC Rail story under wraps, turn the polls around and go for a quick election. It is one of the reasons they are trying to provoke school teachers into radical action, hoping a school shutdown could justify an election.
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  1. The speculation that Christy Clark may be considering a snap election on the grounds mentioned above is interesting. It is certainly plausible that she might be considering such a move to head off a palace coup that is probably brewing within the divided BC Liberal party. Party unity around Christy Clark plainly does not exist and the facade cannot be defended. The salient point is that time is running out for the BC Liberal party all together, that the Campbellite faction has more time to affect a coup and select a new leader than Christy does to preclude a coup and remain leader going into a snap election, but not much more.

    Ideally for the Campbellites, a new leader would go into an election riding the momentum of the leadership campaign which would have to be no later than Spring 2013. All they'd have to do is continue their tepid cooperation with Christy, and not let the cat out of the bag because that would only inspire her to cut them off at the pass. Seems unlikely that a secret like that could stay under wraps that long. Perhaps, then, a sooner palace coup and then a snap election with a new leader. To counter these options, Christy would be forced to go for it sooner than later. That would probably precipitate a spate of resignations, which might be just as well as far as Christy is concerned. Her whole ethos with regard to the leadership has been that she among all of the candidates was, and is, the only one untainted by Gordon Campbell. If that was the only consideration, there's no reason to delay and many reasons to proceed. No doubt a bunch of new faces would improve chances for the BC Liberals. Nevertheless there are some sobering realities: The BC Liberals are down in the polls and the NDP are prepared under Adrian Dix in a way they never were, perhaps ever could be, under Carole James.

    The Campbellites let Christy get away with raising the minimum wage but shooed her out of the kitchen on the more substantive hydro and ferries files. Hard to tell which she resents more: caucus depriving her of opportunities to be either a populist or to be just plain popular. Fundamental to her is her supreme self-confidence, which could, by itself, inspire her to risk a snap election. It will always be an important component in her formulation of a defence strategy against the Campbellite faction in her own party.

  2. Interesting analysis. There seems to be enough ammunition for the party insiders to bring her down but they have to do that without wrecking their own chances. Can Kevin Falcon be the honest face of a new Liberal Party? Doubtful.

    I suspect there will be no Liberal Party of BC with 24 months.



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