EDITORIAL: Why does premier oppose inquiry?

Why would taxpayers foot the bill for two men who admitted their roles in the B.C. Rail bribery scandal?

“This case still stinks.” The words are those of Leonard Krog, the NDP’s attorney general critic.

The case to which he refers is the B.C. Rail scandal, in which former ministerial aides Dave Bassi and Bobby Virk pleaded guilty to charges of breach of trust.

The charges were amended counts stemming from the investigation into the bribing of government officials by lobbyists who wanted access to secret documents relating to the sale of B.C. Rail.

Despite their guilty pleas on the eve of what was to be the testimony of Gary Collins, the Liberal government paid Bassi and Virk’s legal bill — but no Liberal has ever explained why. Why would taxpayers foot the bill for two men who admitted their roles in a bribery scandal?

It doesn’t make sense, which is one of the reasons cited by Abbotsford MLA John van Dongen in his decision to quit the Liberals and join the B.C. Conservatives.

Van Dongen has even gone so far as to hire a lawyer to look into the unanswered questions relating to this sordid tale.

Yet, Premier Christy Clark — who was deputy premier at the time of the scandal in 2003 — has rejected calls for a public inquiry into the matter. Why?

Shouldn’t the premier — who has professed innocence in the case and, indeed, who was long ago cleared of any wrongdoing employed by Basi and Virk — want to know why the government of the day agreed to pay the legal bills of two men who admitted guilt? The fact this government refuses to divulge information to those who paid the tab is astonishing.

A public inquiry would, at the least, enable the public to finally hear from those in government above Basi and Virk and, ultimately, lead to the unanswered question: Why did we pay the legal tabs of criminals?

— Kamloops This Week