BC Liberal spinmasters say that recovering any or all of the $6 million paid in lawyer bills on behalf of Basi and Virk is not worth any effort. Shannon Daub, writing at Policy Note discusses how that policy does not apply to citizens living in poverty:
Take for example the single-mindedness with which the province pursues welfare “overpayments.” As the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre (BCPIAC) has extensively documented, the Ministry of Housing and Social Development routinely takes welfare recipients to court in an attempt to recover benefits paid in error or through alleged fraud.
Setting aside the fact that most of these cases don’t stand up to scrutiny in court, and the fact that our government is spending money chasing after people whose incomes range between $600 and $1,300 per month, what’s ironic (in the way that makes me want to throw something) in relation to the BC Rail trial is that these very welfare recipients are not eligible for legal aid. That’s because the provincial government eliminated poverty law legal aid during its slashing of civil legal aid funding in 2002-04. (Poverty law legal aid used to be available to low-income British Columbians for help with legal problems related to housing, welfare benefits, debts, disability pensions, etc.
Since pictures are worth more than words, we’ll illustrate the difference. Here is a photo taken from a welfare recipient’s living accommodations. This shows a place lived in by a family taken to court by the BC Liberals to collect a welfare overpayment made through a government administrative error.
Below is the Victoria neighborhood showing a David Basi property upon which the BC Government held a mortgage securing repayment of legal costs. This and perhaps other mortgages were forgiven as part of the plea agreement for the crimes of Basi and Virk where the convicted men plead guilty and accepted house arrest for less than two years (with generous absence provisions). Also, according to the Globe and Mail:
“Dave Basi insisted that the charge against his cousin be dropped as part of the plea bargain agreement he signed.”
According to Rob Shaw of Postmedia News:
Land title records show the government had placed claims on all of Basi’s current and future land and personal property, including a mortgage on his Victoria-area home, as part of an indemnity deal to recover some of his legal costs.
But instead of pursuing the money it had worked to secure, it abandoned its claims, saying the amounts were too small to warrant the effort.
. . . [However] the government announced earlier this year it would take 317 welfare recipients to court to recover only $3 million in overpayments — half of the $6 million in legal bills incurred by Basi and former Liberal insider Bobby Virk.