RCMP officer sentenced Ghomeshi Acquitted and BC Election Finance

Ghomeshi Police BackgroundVictoria lawyer Michael Mulligan on CFAX 1070 Legally Speaking discussing a Sidney / North Saanich RCMP officer sentenced to six months in jail for possession of child pornography, the judge’s reasons for acquitting Jian Gomeshi, and BC election finances laws that permit unlimited donations.

A Sidney / North Saanich RCMP officer was sentenced to six months in jail following his guilty plea to possession of child pornography. The judge who sentenced Dale Sheets accepted that his actions were influenced by post traumatic stress disorder, resulting from his experiences as a police officer over 20 years. In addition, a psychiatric report concluded that he was a low risk to reoffend. Despite these mitigating circumstances, possession of child pornography now included a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail, when the Crown proceeds by indictment. This is the sentence that was imposed, along with a further 18 months of probation.

The reasons for judgement in the Jian Ghomeshi case are also discussed. The trial judge analyzed the evidence of each of the three complaints. He found that each complaint had been shown to be deceptive and unreliable. The complaints had told different stories to the police, the media, the Crown, and in Court. As “Each complainant demonstrated, to some degree, a willingness to ignore their oath to tell the truth on more than one occasion.” it was not possible to rely on their claims that they had been sexually assaulted. As there was no other evidence to support contention that the alleged sexual assault occurred, Mr. Gomeshi was found not guilty.

Finally, BC election finance law is discussed. While, for federal elections, people are limited to making a maximum donation of $1,525 per year, there is no similar limit for elections in British Columbia. Premier Clark has been criticized for charging up to $20,000 per person to meet with her at small political fundraising dinners. Such large donations raise concerns about the sale of access to the premier.

While there is no specific limit to how much money a person can donate to a political party in British Columbia, Section 121 of the Criminal Code is discussed. This section makes it an offence to, amongst other things,  pay or accept money to influence a government official. The payment of large sums of money in order to meet with the premier raises concerns about the nature and purpose of such transactions.

Disclosure of the names of people who have paid large sums of money to meet with the premier is not adequate to address the concerns raised by such large donations. It may not be transparent what, if anything, may have been asked for or promised in exchange for a substantial payment.

Michael Mulligan - album art v1.jpgMichael Mulligan is a lawyer at Mulligan Tam Pearson in Victoria. Legally Speaking is live on CFAX 1070 with Pamela McCall Thursdays at 11:00am.