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Oppal’s lips sealed; AG won’t comment on BC Rail during election

Attorney-general Wally Oppal plans to stay mum on the controversial BC Rail deal for his entire campaign.

“You know what? I’d like to comment on that case – I would love to comment on it,” he told The Tyee after a debate in Ladner last night. “But it would be wrong for me to do it.”

As the chief law officer in the province, Oppal said he’s not entitled to speak about a matter that’s before the provincial Supreme Court.

“I’ll be making comments on the case when the case is finished,” he said.

In 2003, Gordon Campbell’s Liberal government sold BC Rail after promising voters he wouldn’t. An investigation into the sale of the crown corporation to CN Rail ignited one of the biggest political scandals in the province’s history.

Allegations that key Liberal aides and controversial lobbyist Patrick Kinsella helped give CN an inside track on a rigged bidding process are at its heart.

With the case in pre-trial hearings, it’s unlikely a verdict will be reached for months – or even years.

Oppal said he’s aware the likelihood of comment is almost zero during his bid to beat Independent challenger Vicki Huntington for Delta South.

“The public has to judge me by what I think is morally the right thing to do,” the former Supreme Court of B.C. justice said. “I took an oath when I was a judge – an oath as a cabinet minister. I will not get politically involved.”

Oppal frequently uses the sub judice rule to support his position. Authorities tend to define the term as a convention that shouldn’t get in the way of public debate.

Geoff Dembicki is a staff reporter for The Tyee.

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