Attorney General Mike de Jong expressed concern about “. . . a growing disconnect between the justice system and the people.”
No doubt, he is talking about citizen discomfort over his own department. For example, secret deliberations by the Criminal Justice Branch and refusals to be accountable for politically sensitive charge administration, unconscionable delays and dropping or bargaining charges down solely for reasons of budget. Read: BC criminal prosecution earns failing grade.
The finest evidence that the CJB rejects public accountability is the Attorney General’s decision to further delay the inquiry into Frank Paul’s death in 1998. Yes, despite the passage of 12 years, no one has been held accountable for the cruel treatment and death of a Mi’kmaq man, who died of hypothermia shortly after being dragged from jail and propped against the wall of an east Vancouver alley by the VPD.
PublicEye reported the Province of BC is appealing:
. . . to the Supreme Court of Canada a ruling that would see two Crown prosecutors testify in the Frank Paul inquiry. The commission is looking into why the prosecutors didn’t lay charges against police in Mr. Paul’s death. The British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled on July 23 that the principle of prosecutorial independence wouldn’t prevent the commission from compelling that testimony.
If not the issues discussed above, perhaps de Jong worries that BC Liberals have driven up court costs to barrier levels so that ordinary citizens cannot afford their days in court. Even when plaintiffs’ cases are unequivocal, only affluent corporations and citizens can proceed without being forced into undesirable settlements or bargaining generous contingency agreement rewards to avaricious law firms.
Vancouver lawyer Peter Ritchie told how two clients could not afford a planned 30-day civil trial after suing BC Ferries for wrongful death of their father. The daughters of Gerald Foisy settled out of court for a modest sum because they did could not pay up to $70,000 in court and witness fees. As de Jong well knows, the system is designed to favor wealthy defendants.
In fact, his predecessor, Stonewally Oppal once said, and this quote is not a joke:
Cost is a barrier. Ours are more expensive. The government has spent $12 million studying the problem.
I have it on confidential authority that the $12 million was paid to designers who were asked to draw plans to shuffle the deck chairs on this BC Liberal Titantic.