24 April 2009

Freedom from Information: another missing report by Bill Marshall

Coincidence of coincidences.

Your humble e-scribbler mentions Bill Marshall in jest in a post that connects back to the whole Ed Byrne Tory-gate spending scandal.

As it turns out, on the very same day that Danny Williams decided to tell the world about the auditor general’s investigation of Ed Byrne back in June 2006  justice minister Tom Marshall released government’s response to the Lamer commission report into wrongful convictions.  Williams had known of the AG investigation since the middle of the day before he made it public, apparently, but that’s another story.


June 21, 2006.


And right there in the middle of the release is an announcement that former cabinet minister and retired supreme court judge Bill Marshall would be running a review of the Crown prosecutor’s office, as Antonio Lamer recommended:
Establishing an independent review of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is one of the recommendations Minister [Tom] Marshall [no relation to Bill] said government will implement immediately.  Commissioner Lamer recommends that an independent review be called to ensure that steps have been taken or will be taken to eliminate the "Crown culture" that contributed to the wrongful conviction of Gregory Parsons, and was also evident in the prosecution of Randy Druken. 
"This is an important recommendation on which government must act immediately and we are pleased that retired Court of Appeal Justice, William Marshall, will immediately head up the review," said Minister Marshall. "The review will be very thorough, independent and at arms length; it will examine resources, training, morale and the systemic issues identified in the report." [bold and italics added]
imageImmediately head up the review but not immediately finish the thing, as it turns out.

Just  a few weeks shy of three years after Bill Marshall immediately headed up the review into Lamer’s recommendation 18, there’s no apparent sign the work of the government’s favourite Grand Inquisitor is anywhere near done. [the link in the picture is dead]
Perhaps the former Supreme Court Justice and Tory cabinet minister has been too busy with another review, this one of inland fisheries

The second one was a sort of star chamber, since the whole thing was never announced. 
Indeed, government has never revealed either the scope of inland fisheries probe or when Marshall started work on it.  Opposition House leader Kelvin Parsons asked a question in the House about an access to information request that wanted to find out some basic stuff about the judge’s inquest – like how much it had cost so far – but the minister answered with a mere two sentences:
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the review being undertaken by retired Judge William Marshall, I believe the review is not completed to this point. Obviously, the information could not be disclosed until we have the results of the review.
That, dear friends, is all we know of that one.

So now we have it:

Two investigations.

Same guy, running both.

Zero results.

Unknown costs.

And it’s not like Bill Marshall isn’t popular when it comes to the current administration. 

Way back in October 2003, the guy who started campaigning for the premier’s job in the now infamous St. Barbe by-election appointed Bill Marshall as sort of a watchdog:
Bill Marshall, a recently retired Appeal Court judge and former PC cabinet minister, will act as the liaison between Williams and departing premier Roger Grimes. 

Liberals warned against new contracts 
Williams says the outgoing Liberal government should not make any plans for spending announcements. 

"I don't expect them to do that, "he says. "That would be irresponsible for an outgoing government that, no longer has a mandate to take those kind of actions. So, I'm trusting that Mr. Grimes and his government will do the honourable thing, and I expect them to do that."
The whole thing was just another of the nasty, mean-spirited, petty, small-minded, miserable  little insinuations about others that Danny Williams likes to make, as we have come to learn.

As it also turns out, the guy who started his latest political life as the Premier’s watchdog has, in his retirement, become a sort of Tory Torquemada – if you will plant your tongue firmly in cheek – ready, nay eager, to take on any investigation, inquiry or inquisition that needs to be done.

Too bad he apparently can’t finish them.