VANCOUVER — The Toope review into the government’s indemnification policy has shed no new light on why the Liberals decided to cover the $6 million in legal fees for two convicted Liberal staffers charged in the B.C. Rail corruption trial, say the New Democrats.
“The question of why the government violated its own indemnification rules has not been answered by the report released Thursday,” said Leonard Krog, the New Democrat critic for the attorney general. “There was a complete violation of the government’s existing practice to only pay for legal costs of public servants if they are acquitted.”
Krog pointed out that Premier Christy Clark asked 10 obvious questions about the $6 million deal when she was a radio host. When asked by New Democrat leader Adrian Dix in the legislature whether the review would address those questions, Clark said, “As I’ve said a number of times already, the issues that the member has raised are not excluded from Dr. Toope’s review.”
“The review released today [Thursday] only sets policy for the future without answering any of the premier’s own questions,” said Krog, noting she now has the power to answer every one of them.
“Toope’s report says the total cost of indemnities granted from 1999 to 2011 was $11.4 million, with $8.8 million spent on criminal cases and a whopping $6 million, more than half of the total overall cost, was spent on the B.C. Rail case alone,” said Krog. “Surely, some of that needed to be addressed in the report, but it was not.”
The B.C. Rail corruption trial ended abruptly on Oct. 18, 2010, the direct result of the plea agreement that saw Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk have their legal fees paid. At the time Krog called the indemnity decision in the Basi-Virk case a sweetheart deal because it shut down a trial that was revealing embarrassing information about the Liberal government.
“This report, which was sparked from public outrage over the exorbitant legal costs, missed an opportunity to answer these serious questions and we are no closer to getting at the truth,” said Krog.