VANCOUVER, B.C. - A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered Premier Gordon Campbell and his former finance minister Gary Collins to produce "potentially explosive" emails linked to the 2003 sale of Crown-owned BC Rail - almost six years after a police raid on the province's legislature.
Justice Elizabeth Bennett said Monday that the premier, his senior staff and several former high-profile cabinet ministers must forward emails linked to the $1 billion privatization sale of the rail line that sparked a corruption allegations and ongoing court case.
The unprecedented ruling also includes former transportation minister Judith Reid, former deputy premier Christy Clark, then energy minister Richard Neufeld and covers emails sent between Jan. 2002 and Dec. 31, 2004.
Michael Bolton, the lawyer for one of two former government aides accused of corruption and breach of trust in connection with the BC Rail sale, said the ruling is unprecedented and potentially explosive.
The defence has been relentlessly seeking the emails - which amount to thousands of pages - in order to argue that Dave Basi and Bobby Virk acted under the direction of their political masters.
"These are critical documents that are necessary to the right of our clients to answer these charges and they must, in our view, be produced in order to have a fair trial," Bolton said outside court.
The allegations pertain to Basi and Virk disclosing confidential documents about the sale of BC Rail to lobbyists working for Denver, Colo.-based OmniTRAX in exchange for gifts and promises of employment with the federal government.
OmniTRAX was the third player vying to buy the rail line that was eventually sold to CN Rail in 2003.
Court has heard that many of the emails may have been destroyed as recently as two months ago during the provincial election, and Bolton said that could be lead to an abuse-of-process motion by the defence.
Bennett said she wants the requested items by mid-August and will review them before deciding on their relevance.
Leonard Krog, the Opposition NDP's critic for the Attorney General's Ministry, said outside court that the ruling means even the premier has to be accountable to the court.
"I think justice has won in British Columbia today."