A former lobbyist who admitted bribing a public official in the B.C. Rail scandal will be allowed to practise law in Ontario after a Law Society of Upper Canada panel ruled he had the good character necessary.
During his early 20s, Erik Bornmann, now 35, lobbied on behalf of U.S.-based rail company OmniTRAX Inc., one of the bidders looking to purchase B.C. Rail after the provincial government decided to privatize the company. Between 2001 and 2003, he made regular payments totaling about $28,000 to Dave Basi, a ministerial aide in the Liberal government, many while he was a law student at the University of British Columbia.
After RCMP raided his office in December 2003, Bornmann quickly made a deal with the Crown to fully co-operate in return for immunity from prosecution. Basi and a co-defendant eventually pleaded guilty to two counts each of breach of trust and accepting rewards or benefits.
Bornmann managed to land an articling position at McCarthy Tétrault LLP in Toronto in January 2006, but resigned six months later after the firm discovered the full extent of his role in the scandal. He later completed his articles at a legal clinic in Simcoe County, and told the law society panel he had transformed from the arrogant and immoral person of his past.
“It has been absolutely cathartic. If I had to use a single word for my time at the clinic, I would say it has been saving. I mean there are so many layers of regret and shame to my conduct, conduct that has led me here today. I get sick thinking about it,” Bornmann said during testimony.
By a 2-1 vote, the panel decided Bornmann had turned himself around.
“Bornmann positively addressed issues surrounding his good character by disclosing the additional information that triggered his good character hearing and by taking positive steps in the lengthy period between the date of his application and the ultimate hearing of his good character application to demonstrate that he is presently of good character,” wrote panel chairman Thomas Conway.
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