Complicit…or incompetent? Questions continue to pile up for the Premier, who continues to ignore them all.

“Honesty, integrity, and accountability, the values, which should be the hallmark of this government, have instead been thrown under the bus by an arrogant majority, casualties in a misguided campaign to shield from accountability those who abuse this House.”

~ Louise Slaughter

“The fatal attraction of government is that it allows busybodies to impose decisions on others without paying any price themselves. That enables them to act as if there were no price, even when there are ruinous prices — paid by others.”

~Thomas Sowell

It’s been a long time since there has been a singular issue that has created so much outrage and demanded so many unanswered questions of this government.

Even the ethnic outreach scandal dubbed Ethnicgate didn’t garner as much attention by the average citizen. New citizen blogger Merv Adey recently compiled a list of the growing number of examples where our BC government has gone completely off track, and I’ll add to that in a moment:

It’s clear now what I think we’ve all suspected. Christy Clark’s government is defined by its own governing principle, and that is the avoidance of accountability.

  1. 8 fired health researchers: 1 committed suicide (Rod MacIsaac) . No email records found in the senior civil service. No briefing notes or memos.
  2. 80 Community Consultations along the Highway of Tears by the Ministry of Transportation. A political staffer, George Gretes, is forced to resign (not fired), and now investigated for perjury after he allegedly triple deleted not only his own records, but Tim Duncan’s as well, and then lied to an Independent Officer of the Legislature about it.
  3. Zero emails from Christy Clark herself, out of 200 which were tracked, were submitted in response to FOI request.
  4. Christy Clark’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Michele Cardario, reportedly triple deleted without trace every single email she sent during the 2 years since she replaced Kim Haakstad who became toxic after the QuickWins memo was released by the opposition
  5. Minister of Transport Todd Stone admits to triple deleting emails regularly.
  6. While negotiating one of the larger tax giveaways to industry in the history of BC (LNG), Rich Coleman’s COS responded to an FOI request with 3 emails out of 800 which were tracked by Tech Services. He failed to respond with up to 797 emails to important energy industry players like AltaGas and PETRONAS.
  7. Clark’s government, (as Laila Yuile notes – 2 days before the George Gretes scandal broke), removed the application of Section 5 of the Offences Act to the evasion of FOI requirements. That is, they intentionally weakened the penalties for illegal destruction of documents. George Gretes may or may not go to jail for perjury, but he won’t go there for being part of Christy Clark’s political team and destroying public records for political gain.

And there is more since this list was compiled, news that was particularly unsettling when you consider the implications.

We now know that Ministry of Justice lawyers were sent to the Privacy Commissioners office in what appears to be an attempt to halt the release of the damning report:

When B.C.’s privacy watchdog was getting ready to release her bombshell report about triple-deleting emails by government political staffers, she was greeted by Ministry of Justice lawyers attempting to impede the report’s release.

BC NDP MLA Carole James raised the issue in the legislature Wednesday, and said the ministry had sent lawyers who “told her not to release the report.”

“My question is to the Minister of Justice,” she said. “Why did she ask lawyers in her ministry to stall off the commissioner’s report?

“Sending lawyers after the commissioner is truly a new low.”

In her report, Elizabeth Denham, B.C.’s privacy commissioner, revealed a widespread government problem of triple-deleting “transitory” documents related to the Highway of Tears.

“In the course of this investigation, we uncovered negligent searches for records, a failure to keep adequate email records, a failure to document searches, and the willful destruction of records responsive to an access request,” she said in a release.

“Taken together, these practices threaten the integrity of access to information in British Columbia.”

Yes, these practices do threaten the integrity of access to information, but the implications of Ministry of Justice lawyers trying to stop the release of this report are beyond disturbing.

Let me make this clear. This government did not want that report on the table during this legislative session where Liberal ministers would have to face questions and face public scrutiny. This government wanted that report held back until the session was over and hopefully evade on the record discussion. Who gave the order to these lawyers? We don’t know.

Amrik Virk, minister of evasion in charge of this mess, didn’t deny the allegations and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton did not respond to NDP questions. Where is the scrum on this? Where is the demand for an explanation beyond the NDP’s grilling?

Where is the explanation for this, period?  Once again, Premier Clark has been off in China on a non-stop itinerary of photo-ops,a trade mission scheduled rather conveniently  during one of the very few legislative sessions we seem to have -something she has been called on repeatedly in the past.

As the leader of this government, which is facing a growing lack of confidence by the public, it is not her job to be in China when the legislature is in session.She needed to be here, answering for her governments performance-or lack thereof.

Which is why it was quite interesting to see Environment Minister Mary Polak, respond to a question tweeted to several Liberal members on why the BC government removed the penalties for improper destruction of government documents.  I asked for clarification and was met with silence.

The continual evasion and silence is both wearisome, and alarming. Government has hoped this would all die down while Clark was in China, but it didn’t. This entire series of highly questionable actions has been kept alive by concerned citizens,former journalists,and there are several ministers who face mounting questions.

Questions like the appropriateness of Clark appointing former BC Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis to the review the handling of documents and Freedom of Information requests by the BC government. 

Loukidelis served the province of BC very well during his time as a Privacy Commissioner,rapping governments knuckles many times. He was highly regarded when it comes to this past position in BC and has intimate knowledge of how government works -or doesn’t work – in this regard – on that front there is no question of his suitability with respect to relevent knowledge and experience.

The question is raised because following his service as the Privacy Commissioner, Loukidelis went onto become Deputy Attorney General – a move that had many critics calling foul. 

The man who has been responsible for ensuring that the provincial government fulfills Freedom of Information requests since 1999 is now deputy attorney general for the B.C. Liberal administration.

David Loukidelis will go from being the independent appointee responsible for ensuring openness and transparency in a government that flagrantly violates FOI rules to being one of the top bureaucrats assigned to keeping documents secret from the media and the public.

And that is seriously wrong in at least four ways.

He served in this capacity until his resignation in May of 2012  and went onto other interests,but for those familiar with BC politics,his appointment to this review raised eyebrows because of this:

Loukidelis may be best known in B.C. for his role in the abrupt Oct. 2010 end of the bribery trial of former ministerial aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk. Along with deputy finance minister Graham Whitmarsh, he approved the $6 million payment to Basi and Virk’s lawyers as part of the plea bargain that halted the trial related to the BC Liberals’ 2003 privatization of BC Rail. Former finance minister Gary Collins was the next witness scheduled. ~

Loukidelis also made headlines after sending a letter to Wally Oppal in 2011 stating the province had limited resources and no money to pay legal fees of participants in the Pickton Inquiry.

Because the murdered and missing women along the Highway of Tears was reviewed at the Inquiry, it’s at the very least, insensitive to have Loukidelis on a review of how the government handled FOI’s and documents, some of which related to the Highways of Tears.

The irony is also stark that the BC government claimed poverty when it came to funding participants in the Pickton Inquiry, yet had more than enough funds to fuel the Basi-Virk trial and  $6 million dollar payout that stopped that same trial… and saved several former Ministers and politicians from taking the stand-including Clark herself. But that’s another story.

Because  Loukidelis played such a critical role in decision behind the Basi/Virk payout, many critics are also questioning Clark’s decision to appoint him to this review.

We’ve come full circle. And as we await the results of both Loukidelis’s review into the governments handling of documents and FOI requests – due December 15th,right at the height of the holiday season –  and the Ombudsman report into the health firings-report date unknown, the questions will continue to mount. Yet silence reigns with the exception of Polak’s tweets last weekend.

With every new aspect of this story that comes out with absolutely no accountability to be seen yet, the question remains… will this government be found complicit…or simply incompetent?

Photo credit: dm gillis
Photo credit: dm gillis

***Merv Adey has a new post up, with more on Loukidelis and…. Graham Whitmarsh.

Backposts in this series:

  4. Changes to Bill 5 -removal of general offence part 1 :

29 Comments on “Complicit…or incompetent? Questions continue to pile up for the Premier, who continues to ignore them all.

  1. I’d opt for incompetent, incorrigible AND complicit!
    Thank goodness there ARE a few concerned citizens and former journalists. We can go on beating these issues to death until the next election (when we will do it all over again?) or we can…..continue to do nothing?

    I’m Aghast that this can continue, that there are no mechanisms to halt the wholesale destruction of our Province and economy.

    And I count myself as part of the blame! Did I vote Liberal the last election? You’ve got to be kidding! I most certainly did not.

    But all I do, the whole day long (there should be lyrics to that) is bitch and complain.
    I’m no leader, but I’m a great follower.

    Somebody tell me how I can help get rid of this scurrilous sp? disease that’s infected our government.

  2. Laila, I posted this over at RossK’s place this morning before your post appeared, and with apologies to those who follow you both, and your indulgence, will submit it here as well because of the Loukidelis issue.

    Stephen Toope (former president and vice-chancellor of UBC, former Dean of Law at McGill University and current Director of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs) was commissioned by the provincial government to look into and make recommendations concerning special indemnities in the wake of the Basi/Virk payoff to end the BC Rail trial. Subsequent his report he sent a letter to Attorney General Bond containing the following paragraph:

    “Guilt in a criminal case necessarily means that the public servant was not acting within the scope of his or her duties or in the course of employment. No BC employment or duty can require the commission of a criminal offense. No valid purpose articulated in my report would be served by allowing for indemnification in such cases, because there is no public interest in protecting the public servant from the full consequences (including financial consequences) of criminal liability.”

    David Loukidelis oversaw the protection of guilty public servants from the full financial consequences of a criminal trial, which is against the public interest according to Stephen Toope, who from his bio appears to be somewhat familiar with the law and related theory.

    David Loukidelis also arranged a legally binding contract between the government and the same guilty public servants directly connecting their guilty pleas as required and under the conditions set by the special prosecutor as a condition precedent to the waiver of over $6.2 million, which according to former Attorney General Geoff Plant before said contract was leaked to the public would constitute an illegal inducement. Mr. Plant has been described as “one of the sharpest legal minds around” by Christy Clark, the current Premier of British Columbia, so it would appear Mr. Loukidelis has some explaining to do on that account.

    The government, under extreme public pressure, later enacted regulations to ensure that what Mr. Loukidelis did in the Basi/Virk case could never happen again.

    Christy Clark also has some explaining to do about why she would appoint this individual to examine recommendations made by the sitting Information Commissioner when her own government and prominent legal minds have cast serious doubt on his previous activities.

    No one in the local promedia herd is asking for any explanations. Which makes one wonder about complicity or incompetence there as well.

    • Is Loukidelis latin for “fixer”? because thats what he seems to do……
      Maybe Christy will throw him under the bus one of these days and he’ll write a “tell all” book from prison.
      I can dream cant i?

  3. Lew, you strike me as being one of the more astute minds that comment here, and elsewhere. Can you not extend your expertise to engage some of those concerned citizens and former journalists of which Laila mentions?
    I don’t have any idea what your background or area of expertise is, but you sound knowledgeable. What will it take to get you to one step further?
    We need Help!

    • John, your frustration is undoubtedly shared by many, who like me don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say this government is essentially running out of control to the extent that it is demonstrably harming, if not contributing to the taking, of lives.

      But here’s our problem in finding a remedy. Our premier, her circle of sycophants, and her corporate masters have made the determination that they can survive this politically. They believe this because they won the last election and a couple before that carrying baggage that would normally condemn a political party anywhere near a functioning democracy to the gallows.

      They believe this because they know they’re aided by a cowardly press, an ineffective opposition (partly because of that press), hand-picked insiders at key public service positions, and a legal services team that is a cancer eating away at our previously independent government institutions. They also believe this because throughout this reign of (deliberate) error, not one member of the BC Liberal caucus has demonstrated the backbone and conscience to mumble a public protest at being part of this cabal.

      They also believe they are legally untouchable, no doubt because of the advice and aid they’re receiving from the legal team that is supposed to be looking out for us and upholding the law instead of participating in its contravention. It is in this area they may have overstepped. I say may; not because I lack conviction some of the aforementioned should be convicted, but because the deck is definitely stacked against us and they know it.

      The RCMP evidently don’t care to concern themselves with any of this, so that leaves it up to a citizen to lay a private information. Very few of those are accepted by the Crown in BC, and when they are the Crown assumes prosecution of the case. Imagine if you will the likelihood of success involving a private information alleging an illegal act by individuals in the organization that also must approve the charge.

      I’ve knocked on a lot of doors in this matter, and as I’ve said before I get tired of having my nose shortened because someone with a lengthening proboscis has slammed a door on it. But I’m not going to quit. I’m going to keep doing what I can in the hope (no, the belief) that the truth and resulting sanctions will out. Given the circumstances, so far that mainly involves making a noise, and unless you have a better idea I invite you and others to do the same.

      • Well, I’ve been making a noise for the last 4 or 5 years. Fat lot of good THAT’S done, except ensure that I’ll never qualify to run for Liberal office.
        I, like you, hope/believe that eventually the truth will out. I’d just like to ensure it happens BEFORE this place is completely devastated and the perpetrators have sailed away with their unjust rewards. (I was naïve enough to believe the BC Rail fiasco would eat their lunch, but they seemed to survive unscathed.)
        Good luck to you sir! I will continue to make noise, and certify my inelectability.

  4. Every so often a photo of the “real” Christy Clark emerges, This one is truly priceless From presumably some Rememberence Day we get to see the face without the photo op, the face of a vindictive, power hungry wretch who has got the majority of this province thinking she’s something she clearly is not, That says it all for me for this not so shocking mess we find our government in.

    • I watched the 6pm ‘news” on Nov 11th and they had a very short clip of Christy babbling nonsensically at the podium during Rememberance day ceremonies in her riding in West Kelowna( gee a nice safe place to “appear” Christy? No protesters?”)
      While she was babbling, veterans in the background were talking and laughing.
      I guess that usually happens when someone has nothing intelligent to say.

  5. Need to create several world-class political groups is all.

    A world-class city/province without several world-class political groups for residents to select from, is like a hamburger without a pattie, spaghetti without sauce, sex without…uh…well you get the point.

    Certainly creators of a world-class city and province shouldn’t have too much difficulty creating several world-class political groups. Vancouver and BC are saturated with world-class leaders. Laila, Norm Farrell, Alex Tsakumis, Merv Adey, Harvey Oberfeld and Trevor Linden to name just some that immediately come to mind.

  6. The immaturity of the woman (and her team) really knows no bounds. My favourite is her reset on “Om the Bridge”, arguably as stupid an idea as any that ever came out of the any Premier’s office, but one with so few political consequences as to make an instant back-track and mea culpa a virtual certainty. Yet the province was given nothing but a tweak of the nose, accused of being “yoga-haters” and of having an insufficiently-developed sense of humour. In the five days that the issue took to develop and resolve, you could see the little harridan casting about for someone to throw under the bus – Christians, Gregor Robertson, natives, the sun, moon and stars….

    If she can’t backtrack on a simple cost-free little mistake like this, what hope do we have that she will ever cop to – or, more importantly, take steps to correct – a big one? People have died under her watch – people the government was directly responsible for, accountable to, or had taken punitive and juridical action against.

    If “I’m sorry” cannot cross her lips; if she can’t ever appear in public without the makeup of all-knowing, all-clever, all-wise applied to her visage; if she cannot be counted on to answer questions in public by the people who own her job description, pay her salary, and deliver her performance review, she has no business appearing before the Speaker in the Ledge again. Contempt has become her stock in trade.

    Gawd, it must be tough to be a civil servant in this province!

    What, then, are we to do? The only tools we have are recall, swearing an information, or attracting a medical diagnosis. Because, I tell you from personal experience, this woman has a severe personality disorder that prevents her from governing this province with any measure of responsibility, and the populace is at as great a risk as it would be if she were careering down the Coquihalla on a holiday weekend in an 18-wheeler fully loaded with gasoline and dynamite, brakes un-checked and no Class 1.

  7. And I’m quite serious about the personality disorder (PD). Studies in the US, UK and Norway have found that between 4 and 14% of the general population in those countries suffers from at least one type of PD. Is it so unlikely that a member of the Ledge is one of those?

    There are ten types, loosely grouped into three categories. Christy Clark is a Group 1 (or Cluster B, if you go by the DSM-4/5) comprising a mix of trait disorders such as Antisocial PD, Borderline PD, Histrionic PD and Narcissitic PD. I see Christy Clark suffering from manifestations of Antisocial and Narcissistic PD.

    Though the manifestations make diagnosis of the sufferer a little unclear, what’s perfectly clear is that the onus is on the people around the sufferer to come to an accommodation with how the sufferer views the world. (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health webinar on Personality Disorders )

    This is something BC cannot afford. At the risk of stigmatizing our Premier, she needs professional help. Both are fulltime jobs – she cannot do both. Premier Clark must resign immediately to seek help and save the province from further harm.

  8. Pingback: Why David Loukidelis Can’t be the Right Choice on FOI |

    • It should be noted that Mr. Whitmarsh wielded the pen of purported authority in both the Basi/Virk payoff and the health ministry firings. He did not have the legal authority in the former, and lacked the moral authority in the latter. In both cases the key Minister behind the curtain was Michael de Jong.

      At the time the Basi/Virk deal was conceived, Gordon Campbell was in the big chair, and according to the public statements of cabinet member Bill Bennett, “You have almost a battered wife syndrome inside our caucus today, inside our cabinet.” Yet we are led to believe that in this atmosphere two bureaucrats would take it upon themselves to come up with a convoluted scheme to end a sensational criminal and kiss off $6.2 million in public funds without a nod or direction from above. Not likely.

      In the health ministry firings, de Jong was making noises all over the place about how the BC Liberals were going to create an atmosphere conducive to pharmaceutical investment in BC. He was fresh back from making this pitch at a major biotech conference in Boston. Would bureaucrats in this atmosphere fire eight drug researchers without a nod or direction from above? Not likely.

      It was also very instructive to watch the actions of Mr. Whitmarsh when the excrement started hitting the fan on this. He lawyered up and went public with squeals that he thought the government was going to scapegoat him for the whole thing. Because he knew two things; that’s how they play, and it wasn’t his idea.

  9. Interesting how our media ignores Loukidelis. No background about him at all since obviously quieter is better… for the BC LIeberals.
    Not one word from any media at all that hiring David Loukidelis BIO is a most egregious bit of conflict of interest. The FIX is in. Just a way to slip him $50,000 of Our money. He was also heavily involved in the BC Rail scandal, signing off on the deal, which involved both Basi and Virk switching their corruption pleas to guilty. The writeoff — which REVERSED THE CONCEPT that indemnities are repayable if guilt is determined- — was approved by him.
    When Campbell was Premier, he tasked deputy attorney general Loukidelis with the sole purpose of protecting the ‘government documents’ and ‘their inner communications’ and he made substantive changes to the FOI policy which undermined the democratic process of records keeping.

    More at:
    Friday, November 09, 2012
    Doubling Down On The Dobell Doctrine CoverAllTracks
    Here is how Stanley Tromp called it, in the Tyee (IMBED LINK, in 2007:
    …(T)he insidious shift towards “oral government” is growing. E-mails must be preserved and accessible under FOI laws. A debate is looming over Blackberry records. Yet the premier’s multi-tasking assistant Ken Dobell startled an FOI cc conference in 2003 by announcing frankly that “I delete my email all the time as fast as I can.” (then Privacy Commissioner David) Loukidelis later reprimanded Dobell for publicly admitting he avoids taking notes so they aren’t uncovered by reporters under FOI.
    The fox in charge of the proverbial hen-house.

  10. I do hope at least one of the NDP caucus reads your blog, Laila. I contacted them when I found out that Loukidelis was going to be getting his grimy hands on the delete, delete, delete file, hoping they would bring some of his history up in Question Period, let B.C. voters forget, but so far they have chosen to ignore it.

    • That’s ‘lest’ we forget……….and thanks, JDC. We really need to do something to break this pattern…………a revolution, perhaps?

  11. For evil to be done in politics requires only that the opposition does nothing. All our MLAs are limp or impotent. Mute. And they do nothing well. Constantly. Our media are tired. Our people are politically illiterate and the fix is always in. BC is like a free smorgasbord and the pigs are at the head of the line. And that seems to be the BC way… is embarrassing.
    Weaver is a lone voice but strangely muted as well. Why? Is there no backbone in this province…..even amongst us? Can’t we sue them? Can’t we elect good people unafraid to speak up? Basi-Virk was a crime amongst many. Integrity and honesty are dead. It is time to vote the independent not because they will change things but because their hands are NOT tied. I further suggest old people – because some of us will speak the bloody truth!

    • Very seldom we can elect good people, as big money tends to buy elections. This starts at the civic level and when one hones their skills on graft and corruption, they run provincially or federally.

  12. I come from a long Liberal background and tend to know more about those in power than most.

    This woman is not incompetent, she is a scheming bit of nasty who craves power and at all costs.

    If she is not incompetent, then she is complicit in the activities now happening in Victoria.

    She has surrounded herself with the “not so bright”, as all despots do, for fear that one of her lackeys, sorry cabinet ministers, would be smarter than herself.

    The government is in the hands of a psychopath, who cares nothing but her own gratification, whether it be travel abroad or the largess of office.

    What is really sad is that those who support her remain blind to the evil which infests Victoria like an oozing pustular sore, leaving the province adrift in a sea of ennui, hubris and corruption.

    This is Gordon Campbell’s legacy, brought to you by the grossly inept NDP and their daft advisers. I weep for BC.

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  15. If they had nothing illegal to hide, would they still delete…………..? Nothing to see here folks, please move along now.

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