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CBC plays waiting game

Consequence of refusing to testify in assembly's hands

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Sep 28/01) - As if it didn't have enough to do, what with more than 70 hours of testimony to review from last week, the legislative assembly's special committee on conflict of interest is considering how to handle what it did not hear.

NNSL photo

Lee Selleck: A response to his refusal to testify will be made after the special committee tables its report in the legislative assembly.

In its report, due to be released Oct. 23, the committee must recommend what, if anything, should be done about CBC reporter Lee Selleck's refusal to testify.

Selleck appeared before the committee, but refused to be sworn in or testify.

His lawyer, James Brydon, told the committee it was his intention to file an application before the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories challenging the committee's authority to compel Selleck to testify.

That application has not been filed. Selleck referred all questions to CBC North chief journalist Mike Linder.

Linder would not explain the reasons why the CBC reversed its decision to file the application.

"It's not in our interest to be making a bunch of headlines right now," he said Tuesday. "Essentially, we have to respect the committee process and wait for its conclusion."

Assembly clerk David Hamilton said any response to Selleck's refusal will be made after the special committee tables its report in the legislative assembly.

"Only the assembly can determine any actions on (Selleck's refusal to testify)," said Hamilton.

One of CBC's arguments for not getting involved with the hearing was that Selleck could offer no information relevant to the bias allegation the committee is investigating.

The committee and lawyers for both conflict commissioner Carol Roberts and cabinet minister Jane Groenewegen disagreed.

Groenewegen alleged Roberts' handling of two conflict-of-interest complaints against her raises "reasonable apprehensions of bias."

The health and social services minister said she believes Selleck told Roberts that Groenewegen was listed as a director of her companies before he interviewed her for a story that alleged Groenewegen was violating conflict-of-interest law.

Groenewegen argues that the commissioner should not have commented on conflict-of-interest law for the story, knowing the reporter was targeting a particular MLA.