(This column was published in the North Shore News on May 16, 2001)

 

Dosanjh was a disastrous AG

By Leo Knight

I could scarcely believe my ears last week, listening to CKNW and hearing senior reporter Yvonne Emore do a piece saying many Vancouver Police officers were sorry that Premier Ujjal Dosanjh wasn't a BC Liberal because he was a good attorney general.  

 

Compared to what? To Colin Gableman, his predecessor? (I suspect a reasonably well-trained chimpanzee could have done a better job than him.) But, surely not when compared to what a real attorney general should be like. As the chief law enforcement officer, his office is supposed to transcend politics; its first duty is to the fair application and administration of the law.  

 

I don't know whom Emore was speaking to in the VPD, but I can assure you she sure wasn't talking to any of the dozens of veteran officers I communicate with on a regular basis.  

 

Dosanjh has been an unmitigated disaster by any measuring stick. And, not just as premier, but right from the day he was appointed to executive council as attorney general. The first file to cross his desk was the standoff at Gustavsen Lake. So gung-ho was our erstwhile AG, that within two weeks of taking office he firmly inserted his foot into his mouth publicly discussing operational initiatives. Mounties handling the delicate situation had to call a press conference to say the attorney general was wrong.  

 

Dosanjh lurched from disaster to disaster. The brother of his good buddy Paul Gill went on trial for a pair of gang-related murders, then got into the much-publicized affair with a juror empanelled to try the case. Then he left a wedding reception shortly before gunfire erupted in another gangland shooting.  

 

On the one hand, Dosanjh would hold a press conference to say how tough on crime he was. He'd follow that up with the lunacy called conditional sentencing, ensuring that long-term habitual criminals would never see the inside of a jail cell, as long as theirs wasn't a violent offence.  

 

He failed to stand up for British Columbians, allowing organized crime to get a stranglehold on the waterfront as the feds dismantled the Canada Ports Police and then allowed the Chinese shipping company, COSCO, to establish a West Coast base in Vancouver. This happened after the Americans refused to let them into Long Beach, California. The U.S. National Security Agency put up a stiff fight because of COSCO's links to the People's Liberation Army and Asian triads. Well, they now have their West Coast base.  

 

Speaking about his failures when it comes to organized crime, in 1997, a document was presented to him by a member of the Vancouver Police Department outlining what was needed to appropriately investigate and prosecute members of the Hells Angels. It was, in effect, a blueprint.  

 

The document, I'm told, was binned. It would take until January of 2001 before police managed their first significant conviction against the bikers. And that investigation had to be conducted without anyone in the attorney general's office being aware for fear of compromising the inquiry.  

 

Then there is the whole Glen Clark debacle. As attorney general, he was briefed by his officials on the nature of the investigation involving the then premier, the day after the search warrant was conducted on Clark's residence. His clear and legal duty was to speak to Clark and, without outlining details of the investigation, advise Clark that he was the subject of a police probe and, as such, that he must step aside pending completion of the investigation.  

 

But he didn't. No, he waited for six months until he had his leadership ducks in a row to tell the premier about the investigation, effectively placing the knife firmly between the shoulder blades of the Clark administration. Such political opportunism, while manifestly neglecting the duty of his office, should have been enough to force his own resignation.  

 

But it didn't stop there.  

 

In securing the leadership of the NDP, Dosanjh's cronies forged numerous names on membership cards and who knows how many of those "new members" voted for him, whether or not they were actually at the convention.  

 

In failing to call for an immediate audit on the new memberships and set aside the more flagrant irregularities and ordering an investigation into the actions of the perpetrators, Dosanjh, in effect, condoned the cheating and in fact was the beneficiary. And, he did this while he was the chief law enforcement officer for the province.  

 

It's hard to imagine any British Columbian even suggesting that he was a good attorney general. Gableman aside, he was the farthest thing from it. Having said that, I suppose he was better at that than being premier.  

 

As you read this, the polls are just closing. Please God, let this battered and bruised province have seen the back of that man.  

 

 

 

As a final thought, I would suggest that incipient Premier Gordon Campbell, have a serious re-think about enacting the NDP's promise of an $8 minimum wage. The business community, big and small, has been beaten to a pulp by nearly 10 years of NDP so-called government. Whatever the political reasoning, a stupid idea is still a stupid idea.

 

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