Consider the huge burr under the saddle of the B.C. bar: For decades, regardless of political stripe, provincial governments have been profiting from the clients of lawyers, using the legal profession as a cash cow, while ignoring the crisis in the courts and beggaring legal aid.

Victoria raked in $210.6 million last year from the PST on legal services, yet it provided only about $75 million to legal aid (not including the federal transfer of about $16 million for criminal legal aid).

The province now spends on legal aid less than half the money milked from the profession as more and more individuals and families fall through gaping holes in the social safety net.

Lawyers bristle at the mere mention of the hoary levy that has been around so long that people forget or don’t realize it’s there.

Hopefully, you, like me, have never had to pay it — only the unfortunates that require legal help are robbed.

The tax was introduced in 1992 by the NDP finance minister of the day, Glen Clark, who implied the money would be used to fund legal aid.

Quelle suprise that that was silver-tongued sophistry: The money was never “officially” designated to support legal aid.

The Opposition Liberals throughout the 1990s loudly complained about such blatant fiscal sleight of hand, insisting the tax was supposed to be for legal services, damn it!

Geoff Plant, then the justice critic, thundered there really was something wrong with a government collecting all this money specifically intended to fund legal aid and then failing to do so — the socialist scoundrels!

Trouble was that when Plant became attorney general he continued the insidious practice.

“While I criticized the former government for failing to keep the political promise it made when it introduced the tax — to spend the money on legal aid services — the fact is …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Politics


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