Fascinating, though ultimately useless, information
- Subtitle: Letter from Law Law Land
For those of you in other parts of Canada who may not hear (or care) about the comings and goings in Canada’s most westerly destination for lawyers, this month’s column will be a hodgepodge of fascinating, though ultimately useless, information.
Basi and Virk. David Basi and Bobby Virk were two ministerial assistants in the B.C. government charged with corruption-related offences relating to the sale of BC Rail seven (count ’em, seven) years ago. With Watergate on the minds of many journalists and others who’d just as soon see a different political party in power, suggestions were implied of a huge scandal and coverup that went to the highest offices in the province. Basi and Virk denied any criminal activity passionately, but copped a guilty plea partway through the trial that keeps them under house arrest for two years (i.e. no jail time) and levies a $75,000 fine and community service. There’s no conspiracy. There’s no Watergate. Just a couple of hacks who took bribes and peddled influence. Although there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell they have the money or the assets to pay the $7 million in legal fees they cost the province, everyone’s angry the taxpayers have to pony up for their legals. I understand why there was a plea (everyone did a cost-benefit analysis of the trial), but there’s something bizarre about a system that allows two defendants to rack up (and cost the taxpayer) $7 million in legal fees for a last-minute guilty plea (and community service!) some seven years later. Legal aid could have used that money to help thousands of real, needy people over the past seven years. But instead, that money was spent on two guys with their fingers in the cookie jar who get the equivalent of a parking ticket. I suggest their community service be performed in, say, Bella Coola, outdoors, between November and March. Maybe it’ll be raining.
The weather. Unless you live in Bella Coola, where it’s been raining every day since 1986, at the time of writing, we’re having wonderful summer weather right now in Vancouver, Victoria, and the Okanagan. We must always remind ourselves how wonderful it is to live and practise in B.C. on these warm, sunny October days. Because in a few hours, the first Pineapple Express of the season will push northwest from the Philippines, and rain on everyone’s parade until February (or March), causing flooding, snarled traffic, wet feet, bad tempers, foul moods, the flu, depression, and a host of other ailments common to monsoon season. The good news is the rain will fall as snow in the mountains, and our collective weekends will be dominated by ski reports and driving conditions on the Sea to Sky Highway. It’s a curse, I know.
Go ride a bike. If you thought Vancouver was a ridiculous city to drive in while they were building the Olympics and the Canada Line, try driving here now. We have bike lanes through the city’s busiest corridors. I walk down Dunsmuir Street alongside the bike lanes every day. The bike lanes are very nicely constructed and separated from the car lanes with concrete dividers. From what I can tell, the only things missing . . . are bikes. When I walk down the street, for every 50 cars crawling on Dunsmuir, there are three bikes. Maybe four. And one’s a courier. Ironically, the City of Vancouver has budgeted $25 million for the lanes. But the city is $20 million over budget this year, so it has to cut $20 million from spending. It’s canvassing the public as to what services it should cut. Everything’s on the table — except for the bike lanes.
Life in la la land is not without irony. Oh. And it just started raining.
Tony Wilson is a franchise, licensing, and intellectual property lawyer at Boughton in Vancouver and an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University. He is a regular business law columnist with The Globe and Mail and other publications. He is also the author of Manage Your Online Reputation, a book written to guide individuals and businesses on how to monitor and protect their personal and corporate reputations on social media. The views expressed are strictly those of Tony Wilson and do not reflect the opinions of the Law Society of British Columbia, CBABC, or their respective members.
Column: Letter from Law Law Land