BLACK PRESS file photo

BLACK PRESS file photo

Former solicitor general could be asked to testify in logging lawsuit in Nanaimo

Rich Coleman has been put on the witness list for a lawsuit against TimberWest

  • Jan. 22, 2019 12:00 a.m.

B.C.’s former solicitor general Rich Coleman may be called to testify in a lumber company lawsuit which is being heard in court in Nanaimo starting today, Jan. 22.

TimberWest is being sued by the former owner of a major logging contractor, over a bankruptcy in 2008.

Ted LeRoy was president of Ted LeRoy Trucking (TLT), one of three major logging contractors working for TimberWest in the mid-2000s. The contractors did everything from cutting trees to building roads to sorting logs for TimberWest.

According to court documents, TimberWest wanted to break up its work among more, smaller contractors to save money. TLT alleges that to do that, Timberwest needed to drive TLT out of business to terminate a contract. TLT alleges that TimberWest lied to TLT’s bankers and to union officials about the contractor’s finances, refused to allow TLT to log certain areas, and refused to negotiate annual rates in good faith, among other things.

None of the claims have been proven in court, and TimberWest has denied all the claims.

At the same time as TimberWest was allegedly feuding with its contractors, it was negotiating for new financing. That effort eventually turned into a new investment from the B.C. Investment Management Corp. The BCIMC is a provincially owned company that manages pension funds for current and former government employees. BCIMC and the Public Pension Sector Investment Board eventually bought TimberWest several years later.

Coleman told Black Press that he was called to testify because of a “conspiracy that didn’t exist.” Lawyers for TLT allege that Coleman influenced BCIMC to purchase TimberWest.

“I had no involvement in it at all,” Coleman said.

He is still on the witness list, but doesn’t know if he’ll be called to testify in the actual trial, which is expected to take more than a month.

TLT claims damages including $150 million in lost revenue and $957 million in enrichment to TimberWest.

In 2014, a judge found against TimberWest in a similar lawsuit launched by a different contractor, Munns Lumber, which was headed at the time by former Vancouver Canucks player Geoff Courtnall.

Justice Jon Sigurdson ruled that TimberWest did not negotiate with Munns in good faith, and handed down a judgment of $2.75 million against TimberWest. That amount was reduced by money that had been owed by Munns to TimberWest before the lawsuit.

Nanaimo News Bulletin

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