Yesterday, the premier's special advisor Ken Dobell said he hadn't made any decision about taking legal action against those who have accused him on being in a conflict of interest. But he did say the "continuous repitition" of those allegations - which relate to his registertration as a lobbyist for the City of Vancouver - is "highly inappropriate" and puts "people's reputations at risk." And Mr. Dobell - who says he doesn't consider his work for the city lobbying, having registered to "simply deal with any question of compliance and to be completely open and transpparent" - isn't the only one who sounded like lawyers' letters could be a possibility.
When New Democrat leader Carole James once again raised questions in the legislature about Mr. Dobell's work, Liberal House Leader Mike de Jong said "If the member has an allegation she wants to make, then she should make it in here. We'll answer it. And she should make it out there, where others can" - a reference to the fact statements made by MLAs outside legislature aren't protected by parliamentary privilege and, therefore, are actionable.
Of course, this isn't the first time the Campbell administration has made such suggestions. It's simply the most recent. Asked about the matter, Minister de Jong said, "I think that if one is going to make allegations that go to the heart of an individual's reputation, to simply do so within the confines of chamber where there is protection afforded falls short of a standard we'd expect from elected people."
But don't such threats risk limiting discussion of issues, such as the appropriateness of Mr. Dobell's competing contracts? "These are not questions. These are assertions that people are making. And it's easy to make those kinds of very harmful assertions when you don't have to answer for them," responded Minister de Jong, adding that "it seems to me somewhat cowardly to make those assertions in a place where you don't have to be held accountable for them."