I wrote earlier that the Toope Report helps the Liberal Government change the subject from that which makes it uncomfortable. I also said the subject change would be successful only if media mouthpieces allow focus to wander. The results are in.
Spending a few minutes at CKNW’s audio vault, it was clear that the self-styled news leader of radio dutifully followed the desired line. A report on the CKNW Friday noon news was both incomplete and misleading. By 4 pm, the story was gone, old news that had aged quickly, a fairly typical performance by the Liberals’ favourite radio station.
Stephen Toope said,
“My recommendation in terms of criminal law is that indemnification should be allowed as long as the act was within the course of employment or within the duties that were required.”
Reporter Gord MacDonald ended the item with:
“Toope says if the employee is found guilty in the trial though, then the government should try to recoup the legal fees, something that was not done in the Basi/Virk case.”
Basi and Virk were charged for providing insider information to interested parties in the 2003 sale of BC Rail and receiving personal benefits for the information. They were also charged with fraud. These were not acts within the course of employment, they were criminal acts for personal gain. No democratic government in the world offers protection for crimes committed for an employee’s own gain.
Neal Hall, writing in the Vancouver Sun, offered a dishonest report, clearly aiming to mislead readers. His remarks included,
“Under a new government policy, former government aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk would have been required to repay some of the $6 million in legal fees they racked up before pleading guilty to accepting bribes.”.
Under Toope’s policies, Basi and Virk would not have been required to repay legal fees because the fees would not have been paid by government in the first place. Basi and Virk were engaged in criminal acts outside their duties, for personal gain. Never has the province paid fees in these circumstances, just as the province does not pay for lawyers to defend public employees in impaired driving cases.
Hall knows full well this was not an independent report, it was written by a man who heads an institution that is almost completely dependent on government. The university is a creation of the province, subject by legislation to its direction and reliant on its financing. The very lucrative 5-year contract that Toope holds at UBC is expiring in the fall of 2011 and its renewal is presently under consideration. Toope is not a man who is independent of this government.
This is typical of Neal Hall’s coverage of the entire BC Rail fraud. He mixes inconsequential filler with a few points aimed at creating, overall, an inaccurate portrait.