On Tuesday Global TV released the documents inking the deal between the BC Liberal government and Dave Basi and Bobby Virk.
The documents confirmed that, in exchange for their silence and a guilty plea, the two civil servants who then pleaded guilty to corruption charges would have their $6 million legal bills paid despite the fact the $6 million was clearly defined by the government as a loan and the payment violated legislation prohibiting forgiveness of loans of more than $100,000 without cabinet approval.
Attorney General at the time, Abbotsford’s BC Liberal incumbent Mike de Jong, has always maintained that the decision to pay those legal bills was made by deputy ministers and not him.
Abbotsford South incumbent MLA John van Dongen has devoted several years and a great deal of his own money to getting details of the Basi-Virk deal and other documents related to the BC Rail scandal made public.
We asked him about the importance of the Basi-Virk documents revealed by Global TV.
Abbotsford Today: How important do you think the release of the Basi-Virk agreement by Global on Thursday is in the whole BC Rail Scandal and why?
John van Dongen:: The biggest issue in this election is trust in government (see Province newspaper cover May 8) “poll shows voters don’t have much trust in party leaders”
The Basi-Virk agreement released by Global proves 3 things:
- The government made a confidential quid pro quo offer to release Basi and Virk from their $6 million liability to repay the prosecution costs if they changed their pleas to guilty which risked bringing the administration of justice into disrepute. On October 18, 2010 the Judge should have been informed of the deal but wasn’t.
- The release of Basi and Virk from their liability to repay the government $6 million violated section 18(3) of the FAA which provides that “a debt or obligation to the government may not be forgiven without the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council (Cabinet) if the amount forgiven is $100,000 or more.” In other words, the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General broke the law.
- Statements by Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond, that two bureaucrats amended or modified the original Basi-Virk indemnity agreements have been proven to be untrue. Similarly, the government statement that “there was no debt” at the time of the deal is also proven to be untrue.
AT: For those who don’t follow BC Politics except at election time, can you put the BC Rail Scandal in perspective as an election issue?
JvD: Very few people believe the Government is being open and transparent as they claim. If people want honest politicians they should not re-elect politicians who have been misleading them and are willfully blind to the truth.
AT: Would you have been able to reveal as much as you have about the BC Rail Scandal from the government benches or as a member of any political party?
JvD: No, I got absolutely no information about the $6 million legal fees write-off while inside the BC Liberal caucus. I got all my information as an independent MLA as a result of asking 3 sets of questions in the Legislature. I also pursued the issues independently with diverse contacts that I developed as an MLA doing my job.
AT: Do you intend to keep digging into the scandal after the May 14 election?
JvD: I will decide after the election.