Last month, constitutional expert and former British Columbia Court of Appeals Justice Ron Cheffins told Public Eye it was "inappropriate" for Mike de Jong to be the Campbell administration's house leader and attorney general. And, in an interview on Public Eye Radio, former New Democrat attorney general Colin Gabelmann also expressed concern about that dual role.
"Mike de Jong is a bright guy, a capable guy and a very political guy," said Mr. Gabelmann. "I worked with Mike in the house in the early nineties. And I have a lot of respect for him. And I have a lot of respect for the decision to make him attorney general. But, back in 91, when I was made attorney general there was some consideration as to whether I might also be house leader."
"Well, that lasted about five seconds until we realized right away that the attorney general often has responsibilities and knowledge that are not conveyed and communicated with cabinet because they are of a legal nature that one doesn't share with political colleagues. And, as a result of that, it was really clear the independence of the office of the attorney general needed to be maintained and there should not, therefore, be any obvious political role in the legislature."
"So, very quickly, very quickly we decided there was no possibility that, as attorney general, I could be also house leader," he concluded. "Now they decided to do that. I'm surprised - not that Mike isn't a good house leader. He is. Not that he won't become a good attorney general. I believe he will. But because they're setting themselves up to all kinds of allegations in the future about the possibility of conflict."