I was watching Question Period earlier today as the opposition was asking hard questions of Amrik Virk – again. ‘How is it possible that in all the years of the health firings investigation, there were no documents created across two ministers and high-level staff?’ Dix wanted to know.
Virks responses at first consisted of the usual non-answers Liberals give in QP. But on the last question, he waits a moment, and smirks… before giving another sidestep. Thanks to a reader watching, you can see it for yourself. Considering the seriousness of the issue, it seemed inappropriate.
He doesn’t mention that the 8 wrongly fired health workers objected strongly to an Ombudsman review, or that the Ombudsman himself had grave concerns over his office’s ability to conduct one. Or that the Liberals pushed ahead with it in the face of these valid objections – in a committee meeting,the Liberals outvoted the NDP 5-4 – despite the calls for a full fledged public inquiry.
Chalke previously raised red flags about his office’s suitability to probe the firings of eight health researchers nearly three years ago, noting that the issue has become a partisan matter.
We cannot, must not forget those 8 government health ministry workers wrongly fired for an alleged breach of confidential public health data during this email scandal. It’s related. One of those workers, Rod MacIsaac, a Phd candidate,took his own life mere months later.
“He was a kind, giving man,” MacIsaac’s sister Linda Kayfish said Tuesday. “He was a concise, straightforward, straight-answer guy.”
After two years in which no wrongdoing by MacIsaac has been uncovered and other members of the team have been exonerated, Kayfish is calling on the provincial government to issue a formal apology for her brother’s dismissal.
“I figured that when somebody makes a mistake and ruins people’s lives like this, they had to know there would be repercussions,” she said. “And when you do that, you have to recognize an error: stand up, and recognize that error. Apologize.”
And an apology was made, of sorts, at least in the public realm. But neither apologies,nor settlements,nor ombudsmans reviews will bring Rod MacIssac back.
None of this should have happened in the first place.
When it was revealed in June of this year, that the government had intentionally misled not only the public, but the RCMP, it further called into question the ability of this government to continue with authority to govern:
Despite claims from MacDiarmid’s ministry that its had “provided the RCMP with interim results of an internal investigation,” RCMP emails show the ministry simply gave “high level explanations of the allegations,” and that “the province’s investigation had not reached any conclusions that could support a criminal investigation.”
RCMP investigators tried five times over almost two years to get more information, but received none of the reports the Health Ministry had promised into what it had publicly billed as one of the biggest privacy breaches in B.C. history.
The Mounties closed the file on July 16, 2014, and informed the province. But it wasn’t until seven months later that the government publicly admitted it no longer expected police to pursue the matter.
The records, obtained by The Vancouver Sun through the federal Access to Information Act, show that the B.C. government repeatedly pointed to an RCMP investigation over several years, while at the same time doing virtually nothing to inform police about the case and failing to provide any evidence of a crime.
“Despite inferences in the media that the RCMP has undertaken an investigation or received information from the Province, this has not been the case,” wrote Const. Dean Miller from the RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime section, in a late 2014 report. “No tangible evidence or reports related to the allegations have been handed over. As such, no investigation has been initiated.”
NDP critic Adrian Dix said the documents “show a government that not just misled the public but misled the police. And it’s a very serious thing.”
The government “smeared” the reputation of the researchers by repeatedly lying about a police probe it knew did not exist, said Dix.
One of the researchers, co-op student Roderick MacIsaac, committed suicide after he was fired and it was suggested he was under police investigation.
Think about that. The government deliberately misled the public, the 8 wrongly fired workers- one of whom is no longer with us – and the RCMP.
Who lies about an RCMP investigation that never happened? And then goes… whoops! Sorry about that! Sorry just doesn’t cut it. It is government malfeasance. A clear attempt to mitigate their own culpability in the entire issue.
It’s just not remotely plausible.Not to me, not to the opposition and certainly not, the public.
Making it even more appalling, Clarks trying to swing this one by saying only the person who originated the email has to keep a copy. But she fails to get the point that when no records are being handed over in an FOI by anyone,it indicates even the original email sent, is gone. She’s playing semantics. Does this government really think the public is that stupid? Apparently so.
But I digress. We cannot forget that so many of the admissions of willful deleting of emails, or no records happened in the case of the health ministry firings and the Highway of Tears FOI. They involved peoples lives, and their deaths.
These weren’t deleted emails on a coffee meeting about a new ad plan, these were records directly relating to two very sensitive issues, one of which involved horrific abuse of government power and malfeasance.
That’s why when I read this new article on how over the last 23 years, it’s always been the same issues in government, instead of thinking what a good perspective it was,I felt disappointed and honestly, a bit sad.
I very much respect the author- he has produced some excellent work but to me, it seems to minimize the seriousness of what this current government has done, as business as usual. Only, it isn’t.
The examples he’s brought up are egregious by any standard, but do not come close to the current governments handling and what now looks like a cover-up, into the health ministry firings and the Highway of tears meetings. These events are so reprehensible that it still amazes me the Liberals allowed Clark to remain in power.
His article also doesn’t mention one startling fact that still remains largely unreported or discussed in media: that the Clark government removed the offence act, the penalties for improper destruction of records, two days before Tim Duncan blew the whistles on the emails George Gretes allegedly deleted to avoid the Highway of Tears FOI.
I’ve written about this removal twice, back in May when it happened. Doug Routley tried to amend the Bill but he was overruled and the bill passed on division.
The NDP put out this release a few days later:
So while prior governments have indeed tried similar tactics to avoid scandal, this government has taken it completely above the law. Completely. No penalties,no deterrents and because Clark and now Virk have completely ignored Commissioner Denhams 3 separate recommendations over three years to legislate Duty to Document, everyone is getting away with it.
Except poor George Gretes of course, whose case has been handed over to the RCMP for investigation for allegedly lying under oath. And rest assured, someone else will get tossed under the bus before this is over.
But take a look now at this. Denham wrote this letter to Amrik Virk in February of this year reminded him again of the need for a legislated Duty to Document key government actions and decisions, before Bill 5 was passed.
I know a lot of people in law enforcement and one thing they all hate is a loophole. So one would think that Virk, a former RCMP officer, would want to ensure every loophole would be removed, right? But no, Bill 5 passed without a Duty to Document. Which leaves this government free to do what they want with little documentation.
During the federal election I wrote how we seemed to have lost all honour, integrity and common sense in politics. Clarks government has now ensured we have no legislated requirement Duty to Document key government decisions and actions (Aka Boosenkool human resources investigation), and removed the penalties if you get caught. And for all intents and purposes, I see not one bit of remorse. I’m disappointed her caucus hasn’t publicly distanced themselves from this.
Glen Clark resigned as premier over a patio deck/casino license deal. Despite Ethnic-gate, the Boesenkool affair, the Health firings scandal that resulted in a suicide, destroyed emails relating to the Highway of Tears and more… yet Premier Clark still stands.
AmrikVirk still stands.
Other ministers involved in these scandals still stand…and none of them deserve to. They were elected to represent their constituents yet I highly doubt this is what they had in mind. It is an unforgivable breach of the public trust.
There are far more things in life that matter more than power. People. Personal integrity. Your character. Honour. Accountability.
The only recourse left is for Clark, Virk and others to resign.
Because this isn’t her government. It’s yours.
** Two great posts I have to direct you t on the email scandal are here: http://www.bcveritas.com/index.php/2015/10/28/a-level-of-bullshit-never-seen/ and here: http://blog.cleverelephant.ca/2015/10/government-email-deleting-intent-matters.html
**Here is the link to the BC Liberal MLA’s. If you have a Liberal MLA, please contact them and ask why the penalties for improper document destruction were removed from Bill 5, and ask them why they have refused to legislate Duty to Document rules after 3 years of recommendations. I also urge you to join the call for a resignation of Premier Christy Clark. #ResignChristy