The long awaited report in the health firings was released by the Ombudsman office yesterday, and having read through it, like many, I was left sickened.
For those needing to get up to speed, from Justine Hunter of the Globe and Mail :
In the fall of 2013, a year after B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s government made a public show of firing eight health researchers over a data breach, bureaucrats knew their case against the workers had fallen apart. It took until Thursday, and the release of a critical Ombudsperson report on the firings, before the head of the provincial public service offered an “unqualified and comprehensive” apology.
The apology, which was delivered at a news conference by Kim Henderson, deputy minister to the Premier, extends to the family of Roderick MacIsaac, a student researcher who killed himself after enduring “badgering” interrogations by government investigators, and then being fired just two days before the end of his student co-op term. Ms. Henderson said the province accepts all the recommendations in Ombudsperson Jay Chalke’s report, including a proposal to establish a $500,000 university scholarship in Mr. MacIsaac’s name.
In his report, Mr. Chalke concluded that the firings were driven by a flawed and needlessly rushed investigative process prompted by a whistle-blower’s complaints. He found there was no political interference in the decision to fire the researchers, but Mr. Chalke said the government misled the public about RCMP involvement, and then bungled the fallout as it slowly retreated from its initial allegations of wrongdoing.
You can read the full report here:https://www.bcombudsperson.ca/sites/default/files/OmbudsReport%202017%20533-web-sm.pdf
There is so much to say and after a long day I’ll try to keep it to the most salient points.
First, this statement from the lawyer representing three of the health care workers, that Shane Woodford posted to Facebook:
The lawyer representing three health researchers wrongfully fired by the provincial government in 2012 is not expecting much from the BC Ombudsperson’s investigation.
Gary Caroline says the report is already flawed.
“There was never any agreement to provide documents that our clients wanted to see before they were questioned. They were never provided with funding for legal advice. They were never questioned. We represent three of the health researchers and the sister of Roderick MacIsaac who killed himself as a result of this, at least in large measure. So the report will not reflect anything that our clients have said to them because they were never asked their opinion.”
As for the report itself.
“I suspect that Mr. Chalke will target the mid-ranked bureacrats, or government officials, and will not go after, or say anything negative, about the government itself.”
Caroline says the government needs to say sorry and reveal who made the decision to fire the eight researchers.
“This is a golden opportunity for the government, especially before an election, to clear up some of the mess they have created over the last five years by telling us exactly, telling the public and the researchers, exactly who decided to fire them.”
He says none of his clients have recieved a penny despite being wrongfully fired and enduring years of stress and misery.
“All the health researchers we represent got out of it was that their dismissals were turned into resignations. Ramsay Hamdi never received a cent of severance pay even though he had served 30 some odd years for the ministry. Nothing. Not a penny.”
An egregious oversight to not include their testimonies and now that the report is out, he is not far off. Chalke determined there was no political interference so Clark, De Jong and others are breathing sighs of relief.
But this should not be let go. Not just because the investigation was flawed, but because a man, a very good and kind man from all accounts, was needlessly bullied, harassed and made to feel his career prospects were over. And he took his own life.
He took his own life.
And where exactly is the accountability here?
The investigators whose abusive behavior is documented in the ombudsman report is incredibly damaging. The lead investigators methods and demeanor during interviews was mentioned several times. Pages 145-147 of the report are clear.
So who was the lead investigator for the government at that time? None other than Wendy Taylor, as reported by Vaughn Palmer back in 2014:
That led to the establishment of an internal investigation, headed by Wendy Taylor, director of privacy investigations for the ministry of citizens’ services. Seeking assistance on the allegations regarding contracts and procurement, she turned to the comptroller general. He gave the assignment to Dan Peck, director of the special investigations and forensic unit in his office.
Now let me make it clear, I don’t know if Ms. Taylor was the one who questioned Rod MacIssac in that room where he denied 14 times in two hours. But I do know as lead investigator her behavior and tactics were called into question as she appeared to go rogue and she would be responsible for the behavior of any other investigator on her team.
So when I read a statement yesterday from Rod’s sister stating some of the people involved in that had gotten promotions, raises…I had to see at the very least where Ms. Taylor ended up.
Well. Looks like she did well for herself immediately following those investigations. Accountability? How is she, or any other abusive or heavy-handed… and wrong.. investigator still working? Why are the communication people who put forth the info an RCMP investigation was underway still employed?
Most interesting was the statement by Premier Clark under oath that she did not recall ever being briefed on the health firings.
That I found incredibly hard to believe, in fact it’s actually laughable considering everything that happened at the time. Even more-so considering she just did an interview with Nardwuar and had no issues recalling where even obscure bands played back in the day and who attended with her and that people were even spitting all over… http://nardwuar.com/rad/nardwuar-vs-premier-christy-clark/ Truly, the woman has an amazing memory. But I digress, only a little.
She said under oath that she couldn’t recall even being briefed on the decision to terminate those workers…
Which is why her statements today in the press as reported by a station in Kamloops are all that more interesting…
At 12:33 in this media scrum today start listening to hear her exact words regarding her actions and responsibility at the time of the firings:
It’s quite clear. Under oath she said she didn’t recall being briefed.( Chapter 8 , pages 134-135)
To reporters, she said, twice, she did ask questions at the time, she asked a lot of questions and they were assured that the firing was the right thing to do. Who was assured besides her? Who was she talking to about whether or not those workers should be fired? Who assured her it was the right thing to do? Did she just admit to political interference? Who actually made the call on firing these researchers?
So did Premier Clark lie under oath? Or did she lie to the reporter asking the question?
Shane Woodford has posted this portion on his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1510233658989652&id=680043878675305&substory_index=0
What responsibility does she take for this situation?
“That is why government has apologized more than once and offered our deepest condolences. That is why government will be supporting the reparations fund.”
Clark was asked if at the time she asked questions about the health firings investigation.
“Well I did ask a lot of questions at the time and, as I said before, the assurances that we all received were that these were absolutely justified and the right thing to do. Again as Premier I know that it is wrong, absolutely wrong, for politicians to interfere in hiring or firing decisions in the civil service.”
Clark was also asked is misled the Legislature when she said the Mary McNeil review had the powers to get to the bottom of the health firings scandal.
“No I didn’t.”
Either way, she’s not telling the truth somewhere. And this is not over because despite her reference to the health firings and Rod’s suicide as a tragedy, it’s not.
Having a heart attack is a tragedy. Being systematically bullied, harassed, wrongfully accused and fired in the public light to a point of despair and suicide is not a tragedy, it’s a heinous and reprehensible travesty. There has been no accountability when people responsible for this are still working. There is no path to healing and closure until a true acknowledgement of the grievous nature of this wrongdoing is acknowledged face to face, until reparations are made.
The premier giving shockingly contradictory statements to the press that oppose a sworn statement under oath, only tells me there is far more to be learned here. At least one complaint has been made to the Ombudsman, by pundit David Schreck.
More next week.
Today I made an appearance downtown
I am an expert witness because I say I am
And I said gentlemen, and I use that world loosely
I will testify for you, I’m a gun for hire,I’m a saint, I’m a liar
Because there are no facts, there is no truth
Just data to be manipulated
I can get you any result you like
What’s it worth to you?
Because there is no wrong, there is no right
And I sleep very well at night
No shame, no solution, no remorse, no retribution
Just opportunity to participate in the pathetic little circus
And winning, winning, winning
It was pretty big year for predators
The marketplace was on a roll
And the land of opportunity
Spawned a whole new breed of men without souls
This year notoriety got all confused with fame
And the devil is downhearted babe, cause
There’s nothing left for him to claim
(Don Henley, Garden of Allah lyrics)