Earlier today, the premier's former special advisor Ken Dobell was charged with "one count of Failing to Register as a Lobbyist contrary to Section 10 of the Lobbyists Registration Act of British Columbia." According to a media statement distributed by the ministry of attorney general's criminal justice branch, Mr. Dobell will plead guilty to the charge and repay the $7,000 in fees he received for meeting with provincial officials on behalf of the city of Vancouver. Understandably, the New Democrats were curious as to whether the Campbell administration will continue meeting with Mr. Dobell in his new capacity as a lobbyist for Cubic Transportation Systems Inc. The opposition didn't much luck getting a response from government - and neither did the press gallery when Attorney General Wally Oppal was scrummed following question period. The following is an edited transcript of that scrum.
Media Ministers step aside all the time when they're facing...charges. Ministers step aside, deputies. What's so wrong with a question about severing Ken Dobell? Wouldn't stepping aside be the appropriate thing for him to do?
Attorney General Oppal Well, first of all, I'm not going to comment on what's appropriate for him and what's not appropriate for him. But the reason I'm not answering the questions in there is that everything that arises out of those questions comes from what's going to go on in the courtroom. I don't know what the judge's findings are going to be in the courtroom. The judge may make any number of different orders. There may be a conditional sentence. There could be any number of orders that a judge may or may not make. And it's totally inappropriate for a person to be commenting on what should be done at this stage. And, you know, to say that Dobell should do this or Dobell should do that is prejudging the case.
Media But we're told he's pleading guilty.
Attorney General Oppal Well, that's something you'll have to ask Mr. Dobell. I'm not going to make any comment...
Media What about the government's standard?
Attorney General Oppal No. I'm not prepared to say what Mr. Dobell should do. You should ask Mr. Dobell that.
Media Alright, well about the government's standard? I mean, ministers have stepped aside, deputies have stepped aside when there's something like a cloud over their head. Why isn't the government asserting that standard in this case?
Attorney General Oppal Well, I'm not prepared to answer that because it's not for me to answer that. I'm just telling you...
Media Well, who will answer that? Because the premier won't talk to us so you're the guy.
Attorney General Oppal Well, I don't have an answer for that. The only thing I can tell you is that he has to have his day in court. And why can't we wait two days?
Media Well, if a senior person in your office was under a cloud you'd ask them to step aside wouldn't you?
Attorney General Oppal First of all, who says he's under a cloud?
Media He is under a cloud! He's said he's pleaded guilty!
Attorney General Oppal Wait a minute. He says he'll plead guilty. Why don't we wait till he gets into a court room?
Media We didn't wait for Mr. Basi. You fired him...
Attorney General Oppal I didn't fire him.