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'It's easier for you guys to call me Stonewally': Oppal

Attorney General Wally Oppal blamed the media today for not better explaining his refusal to answer questions about the B.C. Rail case.

“The media have done a pretty poor job of explaining the sub judice rule,” he said during a heated scrum. “It's easier for you guys to call me Stonewally. That's an easy way for you guys to come out. Why don't you take the time and explain the rule and the historical origins of the rule. The media has abysmally failed to do that.”

The comments came after a question period where Oppal refused to answer NDP questions about lobbyist and Liberal backroom organizer Patrick Kinsella's work on a deal involving B.C. Hydro and Accenture. “The matter of B.C. Rail, the matter of Patrick Kinsella, is before the Supreme Court of British Columbia,” he said.

Asked in the hallway about Kinsella's work for B.C. Hydro, Oppal said, “I'm not going to speculate. Something new seems to come out every day and I'm not going to speculate. I don't know what he's done and what he hasn't done.”

He defended his refusal to answer questions. “It affects the integrity of the court,” he said. “We have to guard jealously the integrity of the courts and people here don't seem to understand that.”

He added, “If I, as the Attorney General, a former judge, comments on what goes on in the courtroom there's every possibility that will result in an unfair trial.”

The sub judice rule prohibits the Attorney General from making any comments on a matter before the courts, if those comments are likely to influence the case.

“Apparently anything to do with anything this government has ever done is now off bounds,” said NDP leader Carole James. “They're not going to answer questions on anything.”

Public eye has posted video of the Oppal scrum.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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