In the last Marketplace I reviewed the McLachlin Report on the Plecas fracas. What I actually reviewed was the bits and pieces of that Report which the “government” let us see. I noted the dismembering of the Report and expressed concerns about that and about the former top judge of the Land offending the fundamental principle of jurisprudence that decrees justice must be seen done.
I found plenty of issues in the uncensored parts of the Report and proceeded to discuss those, leaving it to the people to imagine how bad the hidden stuff likely is.
The inverted commas in “government” indicate that is comprised by the NDP, the Greens, the Liberals and the “thoroughly independent” Speaker Plecas of the House, as well. This because they all have stakes in shrinking the Plecas scandal. The Liberals are in it because they consented (instead of opposing) to the substituting of a retired judge in lieu of Open Court. This and other “errors” they made (since Plecas lured them into his show), render the Liberals stakeholders in burying the story.
Now all the politicians are united to prevent the case from going to the court. They all know that James and Lenz hold heaps of “dirt” which they would not hesitate to broadcast if taken to a courtroom and be forced to defend themselves. The “government” is anxious to avert being doused with that “stuff” and is determined to avoid it by preventing the matter from landing in court. They know that James and Lenz will fight like hell, long and hard even after they hear the bell.
The part of the Report they let us see excuses the “government” for letting Craig James off lightly and allowing him to keep the loot, save for the Wood Splitter and the Trailer. Also lets free Lenz and Plecas, so that nobody goes to Court.
To assist further the exclusion of a trial, the government have hired a couple of “independent investigators”, to labour long-term on the case, thereby maintaining the illusion of pending retribution while the scandal ages and eventually vanishes into the sunset to be forever forgotten.
Enter Dulcie McCallum, the former BC Ombudsperson. She wrote a piece in the May 26 Victoria Times-Colonist titled “Government should release the full McLachlin report”.
McCallum argues that at fault is not the McLachlin Report – it is the government mutilating it. But then she turns tail and declares “justifiable” the government’s closeting of the evidence on which McLachlin based the Report. In other words McCallum is concerned only with the redactions in the Report.
McLachlin had options to control the fate of her Report. But she did not take any, she let the government do as it pleases with her Report.
Evidently she was paid for doing what the government expected her to do. As I reasoned out in my May 31 article, she was to invoke her illustrious stature so as to intimidate potential critics from speaking out against the course the government wanted to take, to calm down the agitated populace so as to relieve the pressure for meaningful reform caused by the Plecas fracas.
McCallum blames the government for redacting crucial parts of the Report and demands it be published in the whole. And that is fine with me, except that it is not enough, for two reasons - the one being that any answer is a good answer to some question; but an answer apart from the question is meaningless and so is a judgement apart from the evidence on which it is based.
The other reason is that for which we keep the Court Room doors open. Power corrupts, information is power, withholding information results in power over those who are entitled to that information; presto, those who withhold the information become corrupt (albeit to various extents).
Perhaps I should refer to McCallum confessing that she has an axe to grind. Her term as Ombudsperson was terminated in a way that was less gracious than it ought to have been, and this may be a big feather in her cap. Because her mandate was to take the side of people treated unfairly by the government, and her termination might have been due to her having been doing a fair job at it. In any event this does not detract from what she says about the McLachlin Report. For that she deserves thanks and has mine.
A case like the Plecas Scandal does not comes to light often. That this has surfaced is a godsend and makes it an opportunity which we must not miss. Willy nilly we have been less than diligent in the past, in our vigilance of the politicians, the result being what Plecas did and what he exposed. We must not lose this opportunity. We must build on it, we must play Hercules facing the King’s Stable problems. We must flush out the accumulated “stuff” and ensure that it does not happen again.
The only prevention is glass-walling (metaphorically speaking) the House where we shelter the politicians. So they would be at all times conscious that if they produce “stuff”, we will see it and make them clean up after themselves before it piles up and we become “accustomed” to living with the stench.