A government built on lies,obfuscation and obstruction,is nothing to be proud of.

Newer readers often wonder why I feel so strongly the BC Liberals need to go, when I am not a partisan member of any political party. The reason is clear if you read many of the stories on my Best Of page – most of them focus on the many deceptions and blatant lies the government has tried to pass off as truth.

Even in the face of confidential internal documents and compelling evidence that contradicts the governments claims, I’ve had communications staff boldly deny, deflect and well… just outright lie to me in writing, emails ( which I am sure were immediately triple deleted) and on the phone.

Combine that tendency for government deception with their regressive policy and taxation, and toss in a premier who would rather campaign,pose for photo-ops and crack jokes more than govern… and you get a list of more than a hundred reasons the Liberals have to go that has carried through two premiers.. No worries – any new government will get the same scrutiny and the NDP in opposition here in BC already have felt that.

But for now, we focus on our current government in power, because they are the ones who drive the boat. And this current triple  delete email scandal just stinks to high heaven,

First of all, if you haven’t read the entire report, you need to do so. There is far more contained within these pages than fully reported on. In fact while the focus has largely been on George Gretes,the ministerial assistant who allegedly lied under oath and whose case has been referred to the RCMP, there are two more issues within the report that have largely been skimmed over by many in the press.

From Page 5 of that report:

Amrik Virk FOI

Amrik Virk was the minister of Advanced Education, during the time period of that request, but was shuffled to the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services on December 18, 2014, following revelations that he was actually aware of the secret bonuses give to new executives in the Kwantlen pay scandal.

Interestingly enough, just days before Amrik Virk was shuffled to his new post,this government guide for staff on email deletion, was revised.

emaildiagram.

Here’s a close up on that:

closeupemail

Clearly, it was an issue. And this guide is really a bit ridiculous looking in from the perspective of someone wanting to do an FOI, because in my view, provides many outs that make deleting emails that can be very informative,acceptable! And you’ll note nowhere does it address triple deleting emails.

How Amrik Virk still has his post, is beyond me.As a former RCMP officer he knows very well how the spirit of the law is just as important as the law itself. And yet even with all these scandals through two ministries, he stands, fumbling through justifications and apologies.

The other issue which happens to be an ongoing one in the premiers office, is the lack of emails – period.

premiernoemail

Premier NoRecords cough, I mean Clark, has a long and very serious history of non-documentation during her time as premier, one that also clearly indicates the culture of non-compliance stems directly from the executive office.

It wasn’t so long ago that shockwaves reverberated around coporate and government offices across the country, after it was discovered that there was no written record of an investigation into the inappropriate actions of a former Clark advisor. 

And let us not forget Ethnic-gate, in which political staffers used private emails to circumvent FOI rules.

But I digress- there are so many examples of where the BC government, it’s ministers and staff have circumvented or avoided FOI rules and shown a clear disregard for the spirit of a transparent and open government. I could go on forever but Integrity BC has posted numerous examples on their public facebook page recently,along with other pertinent info.

At the heart of the matter is a refusal for the BC government to include the duty to document in its own legislation. In fact the government has completely ignored Privacy Commissioner Denhams repeated calls to have a legislated duty to document. 

Foremost among my recommendations is the provision for a legislated “duty to document” key government actions and decisions in Bill 5. This was the main recommendation from my July, 2014 special report into the current state of government archiving in British Columbia, as well as my March, 2013 investigation into the increase in no responsive records replies by the provincial government in response to general access to information requests. It is only when key government actions and decisions are documented that access to information regimes and public archives can be truly effective. It remains my view that a duty to document should be included in the Government Information Act

On three separate occasions since 2013,the premier who promised the most open and accountable government,has ignored the commissioners very important recommendation.  Why?

And why, instead of making the duty to document part of the current legislation, did the government instead remove the penalties associated with the improper handling of government documents? 

This bill will do nothing to stop the spread of this cancer on government transparency.

On top of that, the Depression era law replaces, the Document Disposal Act, at least provides for the possibility that someone who gets rid of government records improperly will face justice. Violating the Document Disposal Act could result in charges under the provincial Offences Act.

Bill 5 specifically removes the application of the Offences Act, so there will be no chance of anybody in government facing legal consequences for improper actions dealing with government documents.

This is quite a contrast to the government ‘s actions in the Ministry of Health data breach case, where they called the RCMP about the potential misuse of government information. We hope the government will be able to explain this difference as the bill is debated.

It’s something I’ve written about several times, here, here and most recently, here.

A government that doesn’t document investigations into inappropriate behavior, doesn’t use email in the premiers office, speaks in person to avoid FOI’s and triple deletes emails so no one can ever recover them. And the really ridiculous thing is, it is so damn easy to prevent all of this – if you really wanted to.

But they don’t. And in my opinion, heads should roll. This has been going on since BC Rail days when backup tapes of all the emails for Gordon Campbell and the ministers were erased. Oops. 

This government is out of control and unaccountable. And people have died because of it. For the premier to repeatedly  claim a lack of knowledge to any of the incidents involving her office and those closest to her,can only mean one of two things: either she is incompetent, or complicit.

It’s not something to be proud of and I urge those in the Liberal government with integrity to speak up and stand up against this.Because it’s just a matter of time before more people are going to speak out. Some already have.

20 thoughts on “A government built on lies,obfuscation and obstruction,is nothing to be proud of.

  1. Liberals with integrity should speak up? Where the hell would you find any of those? Easier to find Elvis on a unicorn. The real question (meaning ‘possible’ despite no evidence) is where is the opposition? Why aren’t they hysterical? Why are they so continually AWOL? For evil to be done good people only need do nothing…..the NDP are enabling by their impotence. More succinctly: they are both deserving of condemnation!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Destroying public records in contravention of either the previous Document Disposal Act or the new Government Information Act may no longer be subject to Section 5 of the Offence Act, but there are still possible sanctions outside of those provincial statutes that might be considered and recommended by the RCMP.

    The destroyed government information did not belong to those who deleted it. As a government record, it belonged to us. Those who had custody of and access to the record were exercising duties in a position of public trust and the public had a right to expect its interests in the information to be protected according to the law. According to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, that trust was breached.

    Criminal Code of Canada
    336. Every one who, being a trustee of anything for the use or benefit, whether in whole or in part, of another person, or for a public or charitable purpose, converts, with intent to defraud and in contravention of his trust, that thing or any part of it to a use that is not authorized by the trust is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

    I submit that the records were for the public’s use or benefit and they were fraudulently converted by the trustee in contravention of the public’s trust or authorization.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. David Egan

    If the deputy chief of staff in the premier’s office has no evidence of government work done either written or emails and is paid reportedly near $200,000.00 annually what the hell are they doing?

    Like

  4. And, no one ever has to resign starting with Gordo who was in durance vile for driving while pissed.

    My conclusion, highly biased, “if you want to know how good a premier Bill Bennett was, just consider what we’ve had since”..

    Like

  5. John's Aghast

    I agree with your final statement Lew. So, what’s the next step?

    By the way, how is the Ombudsman’s report on the mishandling of the Ministry of Health’s firings coming along? Can we expect bi-annual updating of the progress?

    Like

  6. e.a.f.

    The voters of this province are as bad as the B.C. Lieberals. We keep them in office. There is yet one constituency who is interested in removing their M.L.A.

    Things will have to get a lot worse before the voters of this province un elected this crew.

    The B.C. Lieberals remind me some what of the Harper gang. Harper and his cons won’t answer questions. The B.C. Lieberals ensure there is no paper trail.

    One benefit of deleting all those e-mails, there is no evidence. No shredders to use. May not be ethical but it sure is expedient.

    Children continue to die in care. The B.C. LIeberals continue to act in an unethical manner. Nothing will change until some one is caught with their hand in the cookie jar or there are a couple of dozen dead children. Its just how B.C. works.

    Like

  7. Laila

    And this from today. More deleted emails. “Premier Clark has created and encouraged a culture of deception, deceit, and delete, delete, delete,” said New Democrat leader John Horgan. “We asked for emails from the Premier’s office and got none, then discovered more than a hundred existed and disappeared. We asked for emails from the LNG ministry and got exactly three. Then we found out 800 existed and, again, disappeared.”

    New Democrats made a Freedom of Information request for correspondence in November of 2014 from Tobie Myers, Chief of Staff to LNG Minister Rich Coleman. The request resulted in three emails being released. But newly uncovered message tracking logs showed 800 emails , many of them to key figures in the LNG industry during a period when the B.C. Liberals were finalizing the details of their generational tax giveaway to Petronas.

    “Ms. Myers appears to have been determined that the public would never read these emails,” said Horgan. “Why was the senior adviser to Minister Rich Coleman so dead-set on deceiving the public? What was in those emails?”

    http://bcndpcaucus.ca/news/deceit-and-delete-scandal-spreads-proves-culture-starts-at-the-top/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. e.a.f.

    I think it reasonable to conclude the b.c. lieberals did learn, if there is not proof there can be no charges and/or convictions. They aren’t as stupid after all. Of course they didn’t think it would come to anyone’s attention, so they are stupid. However, they are getting away with it all, so they aren’t that stupid after all.

    Horgan has spoken on the subject in the leg. You’ve written about it. Do we see much of it in the MSM. Any of the MSM written editorials condemning the practice? Didn’t think so.

    The b.c. lieberals are doing what they want, leaving no trace, and getting away with it. Not bad,. Oh, to wish for another raid on the Legislature. Sure would be a nice Christmas present. I’d settle for an Annon. hack, even if it is illegal.

    Like

  9. nonconfidencevote

    Well, the BC Rail “trial” involving two senior members of Gordon Cambells govt. forced his resignation( at the 11th hour just before they were to testify). All with an (unauthorized by cabinet), illegal $6 million dollar deal that paid the “guilty” defendants’ legal fees and ultimately….their enforced non disclosured silence.
    This was how Christy Clark came to be the leader of that illustrious( if somewhat seedy) party.

    The NDP should have won that election but their campaign strategy of pandering to the unions and promising everything to everyone ensured voter unease was enough. ( Not to mention the hilarious tv ad in the final days of that snap 30 day election showing an NDP weather vane twisting which ever way the wind blew. That simplistic Ad “settled it” for a plethora of undecided voters).

    As the old saying goes, “Give the devil a horse and he’ll ride it straight to Hell”.
    I fully expect Premier “Photo Op” to continue her blithering inanities at endless staged media events where “tough” questions are completely avoided with folksy stories of Christy’s previous life experiences which dont deal with the question at hand in any way, shape or form.

    Then, as always when Christy opens her mouth for more than 60 seconds…… her nervous, prosituted, former media “experts” will sternly announce,” Thats it for today! No more questions” .
    At which point, Premier Photo Op will beam her perfect toothed million watt smile at the cameras and happily announce her reluctant departure with her ever intelligent and carefully contemplated “Bye bye”.

    Im sure her political science profs as SFU rue the day she ever first set foot into class ….but her rise from “Bar maid” to Premier would make an excellent masters degree study in the “idiocracy’ that now poses as western democracy…

    Rant over.

    Like

  10. After reading your excellent blog and the replies from your readers, I feel compelled to bring up something that I think is important to this latest scandal: Premier Clark has appointed David Loukidelis to ‘review’ the Commissioner’s report.

    Now, anyone who has lived in B.C. for more than a decade knows who David Loukidelis is, he’s the former BC Liberal Deputy Attorney General who decided that the BC taxpayers pay Basi & Virk’s $6 million legal fees, AFTER they pleaded guilty in the BC Rail corruption trial.

    Am I the only one who sees what Christy Clark is up to now? I, for one, would like nothing more than to see Her Corruptness led into prison in handcuffs a la Dean Del Mastro.

    Like

    1. nonconfidencevote

      Christy Clark should be breaking rocks in an american prison for her alleged insider information leaks during the BC Rail sales scandal. A US company was involved in the bidding process and any time anyone tries to illegally influence a bid involving an American company….the US justice system can investigate. Time will tell if she’s gonna pay for her stupidity. I just hope Im around to see it.
      No, I think any rational, honest, thinking person realizes what a whitewash this “review” will be.
      Its’ along the lines of John Furlong heading a committee to “investigate” the Stanley Cup riots. As if John Furlongs’ experience running the 2010 winter “Owe- limp-icks” instantly transformed him into a criminal investigator. VPD Chief Chu was an inept, visible minority promoted way, way beyond his abilities. Vancouver city Council partisan politics at its worst. He was in the crowd when the riots broke out and did nothing.
      The “riot report” ? It was a placebo for the masses. But Furlong was paid a hefty sum for that gig. Not bad when one considers he had nothing else to do.
      A whitewash for the general public that spends more time discussing Kim Kardashians latest fashion faux pas than realizing how badly their taxes are being squandered on “Bollywood” extravagandas, Queen of Chilliwack bargain basement sales, and my personal favourite….endlessly rising ICBC rates.
      Yes people.
      You can bitch and moan so long as you vote.
      If you didnt vote I dont want to hear one simpering word from you……
      Have a nice day.

      Like

    2. Rick

      Same group of criminals operating under different titles. Not one of these criminals is going to be brought to justice until the people convene their own courts as the establishment courts are only to turn a profit and give the illusion of some chance of remedy to the slaves.

      Like

  11. Pingback: TEA & TWO SLICES | On The Left's Future And Dreaming Out Loud Of Clark Replacing Harper | Scout Magazine

  12. Pingback: Complicit…or incompetent? Questions continue to pile up for the Premier, who continues to ignore them all. | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

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