Ian Mulgrew: David Eby redefines the role of the Attorney General – Vancouver Sun.

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Mayor John Vassilaki: “I think that is the most insolent thing a Minister of the Crown has ever said.”

Author of the article:

Ian Mulgrew

Release date:

March 21, 2021 • • 18 minutes ago • • Read for 4 minutes • • Join the conversation BC Attorney General David Eby. Photo by Arlen Redekop /.PNG

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The attorney general is said to be the least controversial cabinet post – a position that demands the disinterested expression of someone insensitive to political winds or affiliations.

Say that to David Eby, one of the NDP’s most partisan and combative ministers since his appointment in July 2017.

The BC Attorney General stirs the pot again and waves his fist to Penticton to heartlessly treat the homeless: How to Make Friends and Influence People.

It is nothing new. From the start, for such a great man, he was a surprisingly open minister who ignored historical conventions.

The term “Attorney General of England” – the mother of our government and our legal system under common law – did not appear until the 15th century, when the office was created by Parliament. In 1673 the Attorney General began to sit in the House of Commons, and it has been a convention ever since to ensure that he or she is a MP, although it is not required to do so.


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The role of the attorney general in the 20th century shifted from the primary role of judicial and legal duties to a more political ministerial post.

The Attorney General of England and Wales is currently not a Cabinet Secretary but can attend meetings. The British consider it preferable to exclude attorneys general from the cabinet in order to draw a clear line between them and political decisions. That, too, is more of a convention than a law.

Canadian Attorneys General have by and large followed the tradition of keeping the office apolitical.

In BC, most have avoided arson-partisan skirmishes for two generations, starting with Social Credit Attorney General Brian Smith, a model in the 1980s.

I think the only exception was the first liberal attorney general of this century, Geoff Plant, who will be remembered like Eby for starting an ugly, year-long war with the legal community.

But at least Plant could claim that his struggle to reform the legal system was driven by personal principles, not party politics.

However, Eby has taken on duties outside of the realm of the Attorney General’s office, and the increased volume and workload appear to have shortened his backup and raised his tone.

Initially, he was supposed to be the supposedly “neutral” overseer of the referendum on proportional representation, but almost immediately began baiting the Liberals.

A push into the legislature, a push into a media scrum.


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Still, it was nothing compared to the way he’d poured gasoline into the dirty money debate.

The money laundering investigation has heard allegations that he manipulated this discussion by collaborating with the whistleblower (who disappeared), providing misleading information to reporters, and endorsing advisor Peter German’s florid report, which some government officials believe was factual inaccuracies and Contained little supportive data and too much speculation.

As if that wasn’t enough, Eby fought a rock’em sock’em heavyweight fight with the bar to put out the ICBC dumpster fire by forcing many lawyers and employees off work.

The Trial Lawyers Association of BC vehemently opposed its sweeping changes aimed at creating a flawless auto insurance system and won an initial court ruling about 18 months ago that found some of these changes to be unconstitutional.

Eby was unbowed.

The British Columbia Supreme Court recently issued a second ruling finding that the fundamental element of the reforms – the out-of-court relocation of cases and the jurisdiction of the civil procedure court – are also against the Constitution.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson said Eby could not simply deprive people of access to justice by assigning the determination of accidental damage to the government’s own online experts.

“This is all about access to justice,” said Kevin Gourlay, president of the Trial Lawyers Association. “This decision ensures your right of access to justice if ICBC makes an incorrect decision that affects your rights.”


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After that legal battle, I thought, maybe Eby’s chickens were coming home to settle down and he would change his scorched earth approach.

Silly me. He is appealing.

And with the responsibility for housing, he has awakened a whole new nest of enemies.

In an increasingly bitter argument, Eby has bullied the Penticton City Council to prevent the closure of a 42-person shelter in a former church.

He rattled his virtual saber and warned that BC Housing had 1,000 sleeping bags and tents available – an indication that he would encourage the homeless to occupy the local parks if anyone got in his way.

“I think this is the most outrageous thing any Crown Minister has ever said,” replied Mayor John Vassilaki. “To threaten a community and a scare-monger – because that’s what he does – in a community where the majority of the population are seniors is outrageous and inconsiderate to the citizens of Penticton City.”

Vassilaki pointed to government documents that the shelter “would not be extended beyond March 31, 2021”.

Eby shrugged off complaints about the persistent tactics.

“We were overwhelmingly elected to tackle the housing shortage in the province. These include the growing number of homeless people being displaced from their homes, people living outside who have serious mental health and addiction problems, as well as the number of the homeless population and so on, “the minister said.


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“I think we have a pretty clear mandate from the public that we need to get people into apartments. We have to give them the support they need to get better and we have to move on. “

Get over it, Penticton!

It’s hard to imagine an example if Eby didn’t play hardball politics on that occasion.

And that’s strange because he comes across as a smart, capable politician who could probably do more with the occasional spoonful of sugar.

I just don’t understand why Eby insists on jeopardizing the Justice Department’s reputation for fairness and equality by always climbing the barricades.

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