VICTORIA: New Democrat leader Carole James is asking the B.C. Liberals to address public concerns they used $6 million in taxpayer dollars to secure a guilty plea to sweep the B.C. Rail corruption trial under the rug. Following reports that the B.C. Liberal government decided to cover millions of dollars in legal costs for the accused, James is demanding that all documents and correspondence related to the deal and the indemnity be made public.
“Yesterday’s surprise deal resulted in guilty pleas by the accused in the B.C. Rail corruption trial, which should have held them responsible for their legal costs. Instead, the B.C. Liberals decided to saddle taxpayers with millions of dollars for their defence fees,” said James. “This decision by the government raises troubling questions that must be answered.”
“Why did the B.C. Liberals spend millions of taxpayer dollars on Dave Basi and Bobby Virk’s legal fees? What role did that play in reaching the plea deal? At what point was the offer made and who made the offer,” asked James. “What exactly did they get in return for a payment that’s estimated to be up to $6 million? Was it done with the purpose of stopping the trial? And what political questions did the B.C. Liberals manage to avoid by halting the case?”
James said that the B.C. Liberals’ silence is only going to fuel more speculation in the public’s mind.
“For seven years, the B.C. Liberals have hid behind the courts and refused to answer questions related to the B.C. Rail corruption trial,” said James. “That has created an enormous amount of suspicion about the government’s involvement. This latest move is yet another serious blow to public confidence.”
“It’s time for the Premier to commit to immediately releasing all documents related to the indemnification deal, including phone records, internal memos, approvals and emails,” James said. “It’s time for them to stop stonewalling and start explaining. The trial has ended in court, but the political questions surrounding the case must be answered now.”
James and the New Democrats have called on the B.C. Liberals to hold a public inquiry into the sale of B.C. Rail as well as they are demanding that the government hold a fall session to start answering questions they’ve avoided for years.
Click here to see the five unanswered questions about the B.C. Rail plea deal.