Judge denies proposed class action lawsuit against BC Liberals

Judge denies proposed class action lawsuit against BC Liberals

The suit claimed the former government unjustly enriched itself by spending taxes on partisan ads

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has struck down a proposed class action lawsuit against the BC Liberal Party that claimed the former provincial government unjustly enriched itself by spending tax money on non-essential, pre-election partisan advertising.

Justice Ward Branch, in his April 10 judgment in Vancouver noted the plaintiff was David Trapp, 63, a Canadian citizen and B.C. resident who “pleads that he has paid taxes throughout his working life and retirement.”

Branch agreed with the BC Liberals’ counsel that the proposed class action should be struck on grounds it disclosed no “reasonable cause of action.” The claim had not yet been certified as a class proceeding.

Trapp alleged the former provincial Liberal government “engaged in taxpayer-funded partisan and non-essential advertising” prior to the May 14, 2013 provincial general election and continued to do so after it won. The same allegations applied concerning spending in the lead-up to the May 9, 2017 election.

READ ALSO: Lawsuit targets Newmark-Linked properties

READ ALSO: Jury selection scheduled for man charged with killing Abbotsford cop

READ ALSO: Convicted killer Paul Bernardo faces weapons possession charge

The judge also agreed with the defendants’ position that the political party “is not proper defendant and that the plaintiff has failed to plead a proper cause of action against it.”

Trapp proposed to launch a class action civil claim on behalf of “all individual, private, taxpaying citizens of the Province of British Columbia, wherever they reside,” claiming the former Liberal government breached its fiduciary duty to taxpayers by diverting tax money to the party to “commit the conversion.”

Branch noted that “once tax dollars enter the government’s coffers, it would not be proper to characterize those as ‘goods of the plaintiff.’ Rather they become the property of the government.”

He also found an “absence of a proper pleading of damage on the part of the proposed class.

“As the plaintiff emphasized in their argument, they are not actually seeking a return of their tax dollars, but simply a redirection of the funds to more worthy government causes,” he wrote in his reasons for judgment. “I find that this desire to simply control the government’s decision-making power does not qualify as ‘damage’ in the sense contemplated by a common law conspiracy claim.”

On the matter of “unjust enrichment, Branch said, Canadian law permits recovery for this if a plaintiff can establish there was an enrichment or benefit to the defendant and a corresponding deprivation of the plaintiff.

“The only ‘deprivation’ alleged is the failure of the government to expends its funds on other worthy causes, although the plaintiff does not specify what exactly those causes should be,” the judge observed. “I find that this is not the type of deprivation contemplated by an action for unjust enrichment. Taxpayers cannot generally control how government funds are spent. There is no guarantee that any monies spent on other objects would necessarily be spent on causes favoured by each and every taxpayer. Indeed, it is virtually assured that they will not be.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

Commerical marijuana grow ops that are budding up in Prince Rupert’s downtown core are legal and out of the city’s jurisdiction, Mayor Lee Brain said, on June 14. (Photo:supplied/K-J Millar)
Prince Rupert downtown’s pretty dope

Marijuana operations grow in the Prince Rupert city core

Unionized longshore and port workers gather along Highway 16 on June 15 not crossing the picket line where Prince Rupert Solidarity Movement group protests the docking and unloading of the JPO Volans, a ship with Israeli designed technology and equipment. (Photo: K-J Millar/the Northern View)
Prince Rupert Solidarity Group pickets at port in protest

Demonstrations against the container ship JPO Volans lead into the second day to dissuade docking

BC Ferries has announced the welcoming back onboard of recreational travellers on June 15 after the provincial travel restrictions were lifted. (Courtesy of BC Ferries)
BC Ferries welcomes back recreational passengers

The ferries corp will relax mask-wearing in outdoor spaces

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read