“ICBC Dumpster Inferno” defies AG Eby’s firefighting
It was the NDP, Dave Barrett officiating, who created the ICBC and he did it with the best of intentions. He put much thought into it, but erred in expecting his successors to pilot it adroitly and did not suspect they could botch it, but they did.
The Liberals did not dare undo the ICBC because it would backfire at them. But they did not treat it well either. Worse yet, the stewardship of the ICBC by NDPers Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark fell more in line with the Liberals than with Dave Barrett’s vision.
But hope springs eternal and when NDP AG David Eby paralleled the ICBC to “a dumpster on fire” his words resonated with the populace. When Eby stated his resolve to “fix It”, I thought I could help a tad because in a democracy peoples’ contributions are the bloodstream of the system. I mailed Eby a couple of open letters with suggestions and published them in the Marketplace and in Alcy, as well.
Eby did not acknowledge them. I attributed his silence to intransigence and I prayed that his solutions-to-come, would be better than mine. But they are not.
The solutions I submitted are simple, as most good ideas are. And so is their rationale: The more fuel a vehicle burns, the further and faster it goes, resulting in greater accident risk; Some vehicles are more prone to accident and cost more to fix than others; Certain drivers are “safe drivers”, some are inexperienced and some are reckless, because of genes, age, addiction to cellphone-blurbing, etc. These suggest the insurance premium should be leveled on the Vehicle Fuel the Vehicle Plates and the Drivers Licence, respectively. The determination of these parameters can be calculated by actuaries.
This arrangement is one of the unsurpassed advantages of having a publicly owned and operated insurer like the ICBC. All the pertinent data, such as safety records of individuals, fuel sales on which the Fuel premium is to be piggybacked, are all assembled in the large governemnt information bucket.
Instead of considering that, Eby imposed a convoluted system soaked in “bureaucratic expansion aspirations”, all alien to “horsesense” essential to revamping the ICBC.
The other suggestion I made to Eby was to outlaw that which lawyers hide under the euphemism “contingency fees”. It means that lawyers litigate accident cases for a hefty portion of the maximum they can wrangle from the ICBC. The practice is known as “ambulance chasing”, the moniker being bright. This practice tramples the Code of Ethics of the legal profession and violates prevailing concerns about conflict of interest.
I suggested to AG Eby to outlaw “contingency fees”, at least in Lawyers working the ICBC. Contingency fees divert to lawyers half of the victims’ compensation entitlement, thereby rendering the ICBC into a gigantic horn of plenty for lawyers, this being alien to ICBC’s mandate. I do not see why stripping the victims from so much of their entitlement should be allowed, or condoned. Eby could simply command the Law Society of BC to enforce its Code of Ethics, that which the legal profession tendered to society in exchange for self-regulating status.
I would guess that my submissions were not alone, that many more were made, which he readily wastebasketed lest they be seen by the public eye. And I can say with certainty that more ideas would have being fothcoming, had Eby indicated that he was receptive to innovation. Society lost these ideas because Eby chose to play Young Turk.
Not surprisingly, the lawyers reacted like newly trapped racoons to Eby’s interfacing with the fee-ast at the ICBC trough. Their agitation is reminiscent of the Doctor’s reaction to Tommy Douglas’ Medicare. The Lawyers fought back, how else, but through the Courts, confident of the “sympathy” of their “cousins” on the Bench. Not an unrealistic expectation this trurned out to be.
After all, the courts have actively contributed to the demise of ICBC. For example, Justice Warren Milman ordered ICBC to pay an accident victim who had fully recovered from his injuries (Medicare paying, I presume), a cool $Million for the discomfort of having an accident.
Justice Jennifer Power told society that watching a motorcycle hit a jaywalking woman, entitles her husband to some $400,000 ICBC Dollars (however, since the couple were 75% responsible for the accident due to jaywalking, ICBC paid only 25% of that sum. Just for watching an Accident... Evidently, if he was still on the sidewalk when the hit happened, ICBC would have had to pay all the $0.4M to him. In any event - her decision is fuel for the fertile minds of the Personal Injury branch of the Justice industry. Justice Power broke new ground for lawyers to plant Fee Trees.
When the Lawyers sued the ICBC, Chief Justice Hinkson assigned the case to himself, not unlike he did when the “Brotherhood & Sisterhood” of judges sued the government in respect to their wages. His decision came down hard against ICBC. It is imperative to recognize that the Justice system is owned by the people and that, therefore, it is the Parliament that sets the rules of its operation so that the people see justice being done.
Ironically, inadvertely likely, the Chief Justice vindicated Eby in this respect and implicated the Justice system in setting ICBC in flames.
But, we are not allowed to doubt the myth about Judges being on appointment anointed with inviolable impartiality, unbound wisdom and immunized against Lord Acton’s Power Corrupts syndrome.
For the record, cry-baby AG Eby estimated the Chief Justice’s ruling to be worth $200M to $400M to Lawyers ... Hallelujah, eh?