In light of the health firings tragic & despicable scandal, the Plecas report allegations and the weekends W5 report, I thought it would be timely to revisit an older post that still resonates. Not only does it resonate, it clearly establishes a pattern that is still often repeated within public service across Canada when individuals come forward and blow the whistle on wrong that’s been done. Instead of trying to correct the wrong, often the individual is targeted,maligned, isolated from peers, and made to feel ‘crazy’. Only…they aren’t.
This is what needs to be addressed. Whistleblower legislation must protect people, and give them a safe space to come forward, seperate from every ministry.
In reading this, it is also timely to point out one man, Brian Mcadam, must feel somewhat vindicated by many of the revelations that have now surfaced…many of today’s reports of Triads, drug trafficking and money laundering were mentioned back in the Sidewinder report debunked by both RCMP and the federal government of the days. ( surprised no ones talked about this yet in relation to all this,but then that would out the feds under scrutiny again too)
Without further delay, here is that repost from 2012:
Truth does not always come without a cost,personal or professional.
However, these men and women have not not allowed themselves to be bullied, nor silenced, nor do many Canadians know their incredible stories.
This is a phenomenal piece, detailing four Canadian lesser known heroes and how the Canadian government shafted each of them in an effort to silence the truth they bravely came forward to tell..
WHISTLEBLOWERS AND PUBLIC SERVICE GOVERNANCE
OTTAWA SOUTH ROTARY CLUB
Hunt Club Golf course clubhouse
16 July 2012
Canada has witnessed no shortage of major corruption scandals; the following come readily to mind:
Tainted Blood, in which about 60,000 Canadians were infected with hepatitis C, some of them fatally.
The Gun Registry, in which a program with a budget of $2 million spent $1 billion without authorization or adequate reporting of cost overruns to Parliament.
The Sponsorship Scandal, in which millions of dollars of public money were diverted illegally to government-favoured advertising agencies.
Other advanced democracies have adopted whistleblower protection partly as an anticorruption strategy. The U.S. is the pioneer in the field, and took the first steps more than 30 years ago. The UK has had effective legislation in place for more than a decade, which covers its entire workforce. This includes a tribunal system that has processed more than 7,000 whistleblower cases.
The history of such legislation in Canada is one of foot-dragging by politicians and officials alike. Successive governments have promised whistleblower protection for years. We still have no legislation that works effectively and no agency that reliably protects public servants at any level of government, or in the private sector, or in any part of the country. In terms of protecting conscientious and courageous employees from reprisals, Canada is still largely a wasteland.
Our Westminster system of government itself has a serious structural flaw in terms of modern best democratic practices. With the fused executive and legislative branches, our Executive Democracy encourages legislators to defer excessively to party leaders, whether prime ministers, premiers or opposition leaders. In turn, public servants in both national and provincial capitals answer to deputy ministers, not to the general public good or taxpayers.
This institutional and cultural reality is a major reason why, among related governance problems, there has been so little development of effective whistleblower legislation across our country.
Four National Heroes
As a property specialist in the Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade starting in1992, lawyer Gualtieri exposed gross waste and extravagance in the procurement of accommodation for some of our diplomats abroad. In Tokyo, for example, government owned residences valued up to $18 million sat vacant while large sums were spent renting other accommodation senior diplomats preferred. She also discovered that luxury living in violation of Treasury Board policy was the norm in the Americas. Rather than correct the policy breaches, managers retaliated, harassing her and eventually forcing her out of her job in 1995. Both times she attempted to return to her job, she faced the same hostile environment and refusal to allow her to do her work. In 1998, she left the department for good.
Despite acknowledgement in internal documents that her case had merit, the ministry publicly asserted that nothing wrong had been done. When Gualtieri sued, Justice Department lawyers used a range of tactics to drag out her suit for 12 years, forcing her, for example, to answer more than 10,500 pre-trial questions. The strategy was clearly to ruin her with massive legal bills and break her spirit.
In the end, the government settled, virtually at the court house in early 2010, thus avoiding a public trial which would have exposed incompetence and waste. Gualtieri now has her life back, although she was harmed from the loss of almost twenty tears in an unequal legal battle seeking to make an example of her as to what happens to public servants who fail to tow the management line.
As part of the settlement, she is today subject to a gag order, preventing her from speaking about the misfeasance she put her career on the line to expose.
A career immigration officer, McAdam learned in 1991 that our immigration office in Hong Kong might have been penetrated by organized crime, allowing criminals to immigrate to Canada. His exposure of corruption, missing blank visas, fake embassy stamps, reports about organized criminals known as Triads, penetration of top-secret files in the computer system, inappropriate gifts to staff, and revelations about Chinese party-state espionage activities were poorly investigated.
Rather than correct serious problems, senior managers instead turned on McAdam, eventually forcing him out of his 30 year government service. As well, they stalled, blocked and undermined subsequent inquiries into his allegations. Much evidence he provided to a joint RCMP-CSIS investigation was destroyed; CSIS top management shredded ‘Sidewinder’,the report confirming his concerns in 1997. The government ignored an Auditor General report corroborating McAdam’s concerns about the computer system, a serious rebuke by the RCMP Review Committee, other agencies intelligence reports, and one of the largest espionage probes ever done in the U.S.
In 2007 and 2008, Chamberlain, a manager at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, experienced repeated sexual and aggressive harassment at the hands of the executive to whom she reported and an excessive workload from managers above him. Instead of disciplining the harasser and moving her, senior management opted to close ranks and deploy the familiar tools, “deny, delay, devalue and discriminate”, breaching workplace human rights and safety policies.
Chamberlain’s doctors diagnosed severe post-traumatic injury and requested that she be relocated to a new organization and position. This was refused despite her strong 20-year job performance. A number of officials from her department and Treasury Board even asked her to remit an assault-form and sign a declaration that the harasser was a “third party”, although he remains today in his position. Chamberlain brought her case to adjudication in the spring of 2009, asked for reassignment help and tried on her own to look for other positions. Her time before the Public Service Labour Relations Board will soon total 35 days without any resolution on the horizon (She is in hearing today).
She has lost her two-decade career; yet the perpetrators of the harassment, breaches and stalling remain, highly-paid, in their public service jobs.
In 2005, former Air Force intelligence officer Bruyea realized there were serious flaws in a new proposal for injured soldiers. It would end the comprehensive life-long benefits provided to injured veterans and replace them with a one-time lump sum payment of much lower value.
Not personally affected, Bruyea nonetheless became an outspoken critic. He also advocated the creation of a veterans’ ombudsman. Veterans Affairs Dept. officials attempted to punish him by seeking to cut off treatment and benefits while distributing in briefing notes distorted interpretations of his medical condition to persons who had no clear need to know.
Bruyea had suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological and physical injuries as a result of his service in the 1991 Gulf war. The briefing notes were given in their entirety or formed the basis of briefings given to cabinet ministers, staff in the prime minister’s office, a parliamentary secretary, his Member of Parliament as well as to dozens of the most senior managers within Veterans Affairs Canada.The notes and associated briefings falsely suggested that Bruyea was mentally unstable.
Bruyea has now received more than 20,000 pages of documents through Privacy Act requests, which were held by more than 400 departmental officials. The Department’s own internal review determined that out of the 614 officials who accessed his computer based files, 54 “did not have a valid reason for access[ing]” those files.
The notoriety of the violations resulted in the Harper government issuing Bruyea, on October 26, 2010, one of only two official apologies given to Canadian individuals in more than twenty years. The Veterans Affairs media relations director has confirmed that not a single official involved appears to have been formally disciplined.
These and many other cases share similar features: hostility towards honest employees whose work threatened to expose shoddy conduct; workplace reprisals; justice long denied by legal and procedural stratagems ; and oceans of tax dollars spent protecting alleged wrongdoers and pursuing truth tellers.
The House of Commons should give priority to improving the governance of our national public service. A logical first step would be to draw on the experience of countries such as the U.S. and U.K. to enact effective whistle blower legislation without further delay.
The complicated and costly whistle-blower system created by the Accountability Act has been a complete failure. Whistle-blowers are being persecuted just as fiercely under the Harper government as they were in the past. The Conservative promise to protect truth-tellers now looks like a cynical election campaign ploy. In order to show good faith, the government should immediately stop stalling on whistle-blower cases that are before the courts, and take steps now to strengthen this country’s whistleblower protection legislation.
A recent media release by FAIR, the whistleblower NGO, (FAIR Media Release, 29 June 2012)) noted that the Government whistleblower watchdog has failed to deliver after five years. “After five years of bureaucratic charades, taxpayers have essentially nothing to show for more than 30 million dollars spent on the Integrity Commissioner’s office and the associated Tribunal,” said David Hutton, executive director of FAIR. “Not a single wrongdoer has been sanctioned and not a single whistleblower has been protected. It is time for a root and branch reform of this law.”
The new Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion has to date uncovered only one case of wrongdoing out of more than 320 complaints submitted over the past five years. The government has also failed to initiate the five-year review of the Whistleblower Act as legally required.
The time for white horses and transparency promised in 2006 in the cause of better public service governance is long overdue.
With today’s report from Sam Cooper, the German report continues to be undermined if not torn to shreds by the allegations of whistle-blowers from the casino industry in BC. And one big name mentioned in prior stories, has been selling stock shares in the casino company he works for… https://globalnews.ca/news/4927549/bclc-former-casino-investigators-bc-money-laundering/
For f*cks sake. This is exactly why many called foul on certain aspects of the German report. Like this: https://globalnews.ca/news/4508431/exclusive-b-c-casino-review-contractor-previously-consulted-for-river-rock-casino/
“An anti-money laundering expert hired for B.C.’s “arms-length” probe into casino money laundering was previously hired to work for Great Canadian Gaming, the company at the centre of the probe, according to documents and sources.
Documents obtained by Global News and source interviews indicate that, Jerome Malysh — a former RCMP financial crimes investigator — was hired as a consultant to complete compliance audit work for Great Canadian by Robert Kroeker, the gaming company’s former director of corporate security and compliance.
Kroeker left Great Canadian Gaming in 2015, to become B.C. Lottery Corp.’s vice-president of corporate compliance.
After September 2017 Malysh was also hired by Peter German, a former RCMP executive, to complete work for German’s March 2018 report, Dirty Money: An Independent Review of Money Laundering in Lower Mainland Casinos…..
….German cited Malysh’s previous work for B.C.’s Gaming Enforcement Branch. But there is no known mention of Malysh’s previous work for a casino company.
Some critics have raised questions about Malysh’s participation in German’s report. The critics, including current Lottery Corp. staff, wonder if German’s report “minimized” the role of River Rock staff in the acceptance of bags of suspicious cash.
Some critics are alleging that British Columbia’s independent probe of casino money laundering was compromised because reviewer Peter German sits on the board of Richmond’s Olympic Oval with the Great Canadian Gaming executive who is responsible for River Rock Casino’s troubled VIP gaming program.
But there was no conflict, German said in an exclusive interview with Global News, despite his decision not to interview Walter Soo, the man who built River Rock’s extremely profitable VIP betting business.
Asked whether German had disclosed to Attorney General David Eby, the relationship to Soo, German said there was no conflict to report.
“I’m not aware of any conflict,” German said.
Walter Soo , is the man who was in charge of ” River Rock’s ultra-lucrative VIP gambler program — which relied on private high-limit betting rooms, large cash transactions, and cultivation of wealthy Chinese patrons — was developed and run by Great Canadian executive Walter Soo. Soo is reportedly no longer working at River Rock, but is in Toronto, working to set up Great Canadian’s new gaming programs at Woodbine Casino.”
That’s why when his name came across my screen today on insider trading updates, I took note: https://www.fairfieldcurrent.com/news/2019/02/07/walter-soo-sells-5000-shares-of-great-canadian-gaming-corp-gc-stock.html
Hmm. Not huge share amounts sold by most means, but notable as we look to even more revelations with the coming feature on W5, Saturday. Does Walter routinely sell shares? Or is Walter trying to offload, little by little, so no one notices…? Does Walter Soo know something we don’t know? Gee too bad Peter German didn’t interview him… https://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/
It’s time for everyone to Stop Whitewashing the Bloodstains from BC’s Dirty Money Laundromat, and call the full Charbonneau style commission I and many others have been calling for, for years. From Sandy’s excellent piece last year: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/06/30/opinion/stop-whitewashing-bloodstains-bcs-dirty-money-laundromat
….Then there was Coleman’s heated attack in 2011 on RCMP Insp. Barry Baxter, referenced in the German report. In response to a news report by CBC’s Eric Rankin about a gusher of suspicious cash transactions at Metro Vancouver casinos, Baxter stated the obvious. “We’re suspicious that it’s dirty money, and anybody—the common person would say this stinks. There’s no doubt about it.” (Bonus points if you spotted the link between this quote and German’s report title).
Coleman’s response was angry, personal, and it was false.
“Yeah, I know what he said, and I don’t agree with him and neither do all the superiors of his in the RCMP,” Coleman told the CBC.
Yet not only did Baxter’s RCMP superiors agree with him, his statement was expressly pre-approved by their communications office. Moreover, Coleman was well aware of the money-laundering issue in casinos because, according to Rankin’s reporting, the RCMP had informed him of it months earlier.
Why would Coleman personally attack a senior policing expert in the media, a man who was informing the public of the likelihood of money-laundering activity in casinos? Why would he try to mislead the public about the RCMP’s expert opinion, and even what he himself knew?
Did Coleman have any role in Joe Schalk’s firing?
My post tonight was prompted by a discussion I had recently with a green enviro former backroom NDPer type who messaged me out of the blue following Malcomsons win in Nanaimo:
” An inquiry won’t save lives or solve much in my opinion,although I am not opposed to doing so, just more inclined to push government to actually do stuff while they still have power instead of sorting out someone elses mess to no particular end while wasting precious time..”
That statement caught me completely off guard then and hasn’t left me since. Why? His statement ( and I am sure he will never speak to me candidly now for sharing this, but this matters) is one I have seen expressed by others, in different words, in difference venues…and it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It must be both, because corruption costs all of us. In tax dollars fighting crime, drug smuggling and lives.
I honestly think the inner circle in the NDP, the real power brokers behind the mla’s you all elected, are sitting there trying to weigh whether the cost and time involved in a credible arms length,Charbonneau style commission will win enough votes to win a majority government or whether daycare and new walk in urgent care centres will do the job….
You might hate me for saying that, but it’s true. And I think in your heart, you know it’s the only right thing to do. So, I leave you with a few words from Sandys piece linked to above. Because I’m not ready to make nice either.
” There’s a more insidious danger when we brush off the glaring issues that German’s report exposes. Unseen forces can exert powerful influence on public officials, diverting policy and investigations to benefit unknown interests. This is the threat of public corruption. Once a public official crosses the line, they are no longer working for the public, but are using their public office to work for someone else.
Obviously there is not enough information here to draw conclusions, but the warning signs are unmistakable. Ignoring them is not an option.
Only a Charbonneau style inquiry, with subpoena powers and teeth, will restore public confidence in the integrity of the system and our government leadership. Too many governments have foundered on the gambling shoal for us to accept more platitudes from anyone.
Mr. Eby, Premier Horgan, and Mr. Wilkinson, this is a moment of truth. You must, each of you, act.
Don’t try to bury this.
The grave is too shallow, and it’s already full.
Following the release of the German report last year, I posted a video of Rich Coleman being interviewed by Sean Holman, with a dissection of what he said and how he said it. You can find that post here: https://lailayuile.com/2018/06/27/money-and-corruption-are-ruining-the-land-2
Since then, Sam Cooper has broken story after story of how completely out of control the situation is in BC casinos, with criminals having washed an estimated billion dollars plus in a completely unfettered manner. ( you can find his stories in that embedded link)
That’s why the decision to disband the IIGET still makes no sense, nor do the many explanations given by Rich Coleman then, or since. Frankly, the decision stunk more than old herring eggs washed up onto the beach do, after sitting in the sun for a few days…
In fact, his statements have most often been at odds with documents Holman obtained via FOI requests, and with statements given by others…and after going back to look I saw Sean had more Coleman videos on the same story.
Just for posterity, I wanted to bring all that info here in one post to make it easy for you to watch and read. One article or video alone takes on a far greater context when it is read and compared to the others.
Let’s start with this video posted October 2009, the fall after the decision to disband the IIGET was made.
Huh. According to Coleman, everything was awesome at BC casinos, BCLC has all eyes and ears and surveillance in casinos, sophisticated equipment most problem gaming happened at illegal gaming houses (he disputed Fred Pinnocks statements. )
We’ll get back to this all in a moment, but here is Holman with Coleman again, asking more questions following documents that contradict his statements.
So,to be perfectly clear, at different times, Coleman has stated: that the board made the recommendation to disband; that he consulted with senior members of the RCMP; that the unit was inefficient and had not achieved directives; that it was redundant with the increase in officers and funding in other units that would cross over investigations with organized crime.
Yet as Sean Holman pointed out here: http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004457.html , that’s not what some RCMP were told was the reason for disbanding:
” Last month, Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Colemantold Public Eye the government-funded RCMP team wasn’t shutdown because of funding pressures. Instead, he said the team was shutdown because it hadn’t prepared a business plan and the government wasn’t “getting the results we wanted.”
But, in March, the RCMP’s criminal operations branch cited urgent “funding pressures, criminal enterprise activity and/or other operational and investigative priorities” as the reasons for that shutdown, which took place on April 1.
This, according to a message sent to officers in British Columbia and obtained via a freedom of information request.
That’s consistent with what a RCMP spokesperson earlier told Public Eye.
And it seems to support former unit commander Fred Pinnock‘s statement that illegal gaming was pushed to the backseat because of a need to focus on other enforcement priorities
In an exclusive interview, Pinnock said those priorities included criminal activities that would “keep (the RCMP) positioned to ensure the renewal” of their provincial policing contract in 2012, such as gang violence.
The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned message.
To: All Members “E” Division
From: Criminal Operations Branch
“E” DIVISION BROADCAST
Dissolution of Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET)
Established in 2004 under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB), Police Services Division (PSD) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), IIGET was created due to a growing concern about the enforcement response to illegal gaming in British Columbia and acted within the regulatory framework of the Gaming Control Act.
IIGET was dedicated primarily to preserving the integrity of legal gaming in this Province and targeted illegal gaming activity such as; illegal lotteries, common gaming houses, the distribution of illegal video lottery terminals, animal fights, bookmaking, and internet gaming.
Other activities of the IIGET included; the education of partner agencies, the gathering and recording of intelligence and reporting on the scope and extent of illegal gaming provincially.
On 2009-02-18, given exigent funding pressures, criminal enterprise activityand/or other operational and investigative priorities, a decision was made not to seek a renewal of the current MOU for the IIGET.
Please be advised that effective April 1, 2009, the IIGET is to be collapsed and will cease to exist as a unit. As IIGET will no longer be in a position to take on illegal gaming investigations, the relevant “police force of jurisdiction” will now be responsible for illegal gaming investigations.
Funding pressures….or an inefficient, redundant unit?
Lets move on again, to the infamous video
interrogation interview Holman conducted in 2010…part 1 here, followed by the second portion.
Holman does a complete write up with the above video here: http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004991.html
But here’s what continues to confound us: neither of those reports recommended shuttering the team – quite the opposite. Other records obtained by Public Eye also show the RCMP and the minister’s own communications staff were offering opposing explanations for its closure – citing funding pressures and the need to focus on other policing priorities. And those explanations are more consistent with what the team’s former unit commander Fred Pinnock told us last year during an interview in which he questioned the government”s commitment to “meaningful” illegal gaming investigations.
So what was the minister’s response to that inconsistency? Well, you can see for yourself what he had to say when we spoke to him last week in his office.
But, it gets better. Here is the second part of that interview
From Holmans report: http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004995.html
Who made the controversial decision to shutdown the province’s anti-illegal gaming enforcement team? In October, Rich Coleman told reporters he did. Later, the gaming minister explained he only meant to take “responsibility for that decision” – which was actually made by the team’s consultative board. But internal documents obtained to-date by Public Eye suggest the board may have had little involvement in disbanding IIGET. Here’s why: for starters, that decision was supposedly made on February 18, 2009. But the board’s last minuted meeting happened on January 26, 2009. And those minutes don’t record any discussion about disbanding the team. Although its members did discuss “the uncertainty of future funding for IIGET.” Then, there’s the email that was sent on February 18, to the gaming policy and enforcement branch’s general manager Derek Sturko.
“Did iiget get the funding or not?,” wrote Larry Vander Graaf, executive director of the branch’s investigations and regional operations division.
“No, but we have not yet advised them,” replied Mr. Sturko, who was also a member of the consultative board.
He then went on to add the director of the ministry of public safety and solicitor general’s police services division Kevin Begg “will advise the RCMP and let me know when he’s done so. Until then, the decision is confidential.”
Then, a month later, another civil servant asked Mr. Sturko whether “the Board and OIC of IIGET” needed to be told of the team’s status.
The response: “IIGET is being discontinued. The IIGET Board knows,” later adding in a separate email, “I think they all know. Certainly Dick Bent does” – a reference to the RCMP’s deputy criminal operations officer in British Columbia.
But if the team’s board had made that decision in February, why would there be any uncertainty about its members knowing IIGET was being disbanded?
These are the questions we had for Minister Coleman when we spoke to him earlier this month in his office.
His response: “The minister doesn’t deal with everybody else’s emails. So what Derek is writing to one person or this person is writing to that one is never an issue for me…I don’t get into the minutiae of the little discussion going back and forth. And I can’t speak for those guys little minutiae of discussions. I just know for me it was, it wasn’t working, looked at the budget, got the board decision, shut it down.”
The minister later stated that while the consultative board may have recommended shutting down IIGET, he was responsible for executing that decision.
Later that summer, in August 2010, Holman posted this: http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/005198.html
The province’s gaming minister has said an RCMP team targeting illegal gaming was axed, in part, because it “never, ever” prepared a “business plan” – a document describing how it would be managed over the long-term. But records obtained via access to information requests show the team did prepare a pair of “business cases” arguing for its expansion in 2007 – with the more detailed of the two including a three-year budget plan. By January 2009, it had also completed the research needed to write a “five-year strategic plan,” as well as a “final business case” that would have included short and long-term objectives and performance measures for the team. Three months later, though, the provincially-funded unit’s doors were closed – with a government spokesperson later stating a business case isn’t a business plan because it only explains why a particular program is needed.
In an action plan written during the early months of 2008, Wayne Holland – the officer who was then in charge of the team – acknowledged the more detailed, 19-page business case he had prepared for his RCMP superiors was “somewhat lacking in content.”
The reason: according to the inspector, the team hadn’t yet prepared a threat assessment on the “scope and extent of illegal gaming” in British Columbia.
But once that happened, Insp. Holland promised the team would be able to paint a more comprehensive picture of the team’s future – including “timeframes for the recruitment and training of additional staff and the infrastructure required to support them.”
That threat assessment – which warned Asian and Italian organized crime figures, as well as Hells Angels, were likely involved in illegal gaming – was ready by January 29, 2009.
Three months later the team’s doors were closed with no record of any further business cases – or plans – being written.
Every single reason Coleman is on record for, has been contradicted or opposed. In documents or by statements from people like Fred Pinnock, and almost entirely by Sean Holman. In fact other than a report in the Globe and Mail by none other than Sean himself, it really doesn’t appear that the press really picked this up back then, which is a shame. ( This isn’t surprising considering how some of the older members of the press gallery recently acted, attacking Plecas prior to the release of his report)
You can access Seans archived stories on this here:http://publiceyeonline.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&tag=integrated%20illegal%20gaming%20enforcement%20team&limit=20
Why does all this matter?
Because as Coleman finally started getting put under the spotlight last year about this, he still pulled out all these old reasons that have been largely contradicted… https://rock101.com/news/4315391/rich-coleman-says-bc-liberals-did-everything-we-could-to-crack-down-on-casino-money-laundering/
“Coleman told CKNW’s Lynda Steele Show that it is “load of garbage” to suggest his government knew money laundering was going on and didn’t stop it because the government was addicted to the gaming revenues.When Coleman was serving as solicitor general, the government decided to scrap the Integrated Illegal Gambling Enforcement Team (IIGET) even though there were reports that showed substantial money laundering in B.C. casinos.
“I think we tried. I think the challenge was IIGET didn’t work. I thought IIGET would work better than it did. And I think that was our biggest disappointment,” said Coleman.
“We did everything we could. I had the confidence to do my job arm’s length from any interference with any investigation from police.”
But as we have seen above, neither report recommended shuttering that team, and RCMP issued a statement following this segment refuting Coleman.
And as far as having an arms length from BCLC decisions and operation…we know that’s not quite accurate either. https://lailayuile.com/2013/01/23/time-for-minister-rich-coleman-to-step-down-calls-to-surrey-councillors-absolute-political-interference-in-process/
Last night I took a few moments before bed to re-read the older posts I’ve written on past spending and accounting scandals in the legislature, because I couldn’t stop thinking about the 17 people alleged to have been let go for raising concerns about spending or procedure.
We will get back to that shortly, but there has been a lot of confusion for newer readers as to what the LAMC is and what they do. OR don’t do which is really more appropriate, considering the details of the Plecas report.
The Legislative Assembly Management Committee aka LAMC, was created and empowered to : “consider any matters necessary for the efficient and effective operation and management of the Legislative Assembly, including reviewing estimates of expenditure for the Legislative Assembly under Vote 1. “
Sounds great in theory, but in practice it has been a disaster and quite honestly, a running embarrassment for the entire legislature. I’ve done two posts on this in the past, once in 2012 ( all of these issues should have been fixed then, but were not ) https://lailayuile.com/2012/07/27/politics-without-principle-makes-hypocrisy-a-governing-force-in-the-legislative-assembly/
Then, in 2014, we again took a walk down the unaccountable road of many excuses and promises to fix the issues : https://lailayuile.com/2014/03/26/politics-without-principle-2-0-just-because-you-candoesnt-mean-you-should/
The only issue is, that Craig James himself was in charge of a good amount of those improvements ( bulletproof, I believe he has been quoted as saying) and clearly that hasn’t worked out so well for anyone…least of all the 17 people who were let go.
So who sits on this mysterious committee?
For the 39th parliment, which ran from 2009-2013, the members were:
For the 40th Parliment, which ran from 2013 -2017, members were:
There is Linda Reid above, committee chair and currently under fire for allegedly asking an assistant to submit improper expenses…he refused and was subsequently fired he claims.
The current committee makeup is as follows below, and remember them, because these will be the people you need to hold responsible, along with every current mla, for fixing this once and for all.
Clearly, in past years the BC Liberals have outnumbered the NDP members of the committee… and as the auditor general said yesterday, the political will was just not there to enact substantive changes to prevent this and give actual true oversight to the committee.
This was reflected in the Plecas report:
In 2012, strengthening oversight was identified as urgent…2012…then again in 2014, it was still urgent. And yet here we are today. Ask your Liberal mla why this happened.
To be fair, some changes were made to how things were accounted for, but those changes were largely engineered by Craig James( appointed by the BC Liberals against objections, remember) But who has oversight over Craig James? Apparently no one.
Lets go to those 17 employees now,because what was written here is disturbing for several reasons.
Chilling. Apparently nothing was learned from the tragic health firings or the suicide of Rod MacIsaac. This line from the page above is very telling: ” this is a broader issue that appears to be modelled at the top of the hierarchy, but extends elsewhere in the Legislative Assembly. ” It is unacceptable that such an environment was fostered and allowed to continue unchecked.
Having been in power for 16 years, having unilaterally appointed Craig James to a lifetime appointment and having also outnumbered the NDP contingent on the LAMC, this all lands squarely on the shoulders of the BC Liberals who did nothing to fix this. They controlled everything.
But one must still ask, in the interest of it never happening again, why the alarm wasn’t sounded by the NDP members past and present on this committee? Particularly when you see statements like this in the press:
If there were signs that things were off Premier Horgan,why didn’t you act? If there are rumours of wrongdoing or other issues in the hallways, isn’t it your job, particularly while in opposition, to look into it,or have someone else look into it? How does all this happen in the legislative assembly and no one says or does a thing about serious issues that have been reported as a well known secret, until Plecas comes along? How?
To me, that is a big issue, and where immediate legislative powers of authority over the Clerk and other senior management officials in the legislature, along with explicit protocol detailing oversight and accountability of their work , must be granted to the LAMC. That this wasn’t done many years ago is without argument, a failing of the Liberal government to be sure, but also for those committees past and present. And while the new government has brought forth whistleblower legislation for the public sector, it doesn’t seem to have applied here. ( done in time? Or needs to be expanded to legislative employees for protection) https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018AG0026-000729
This is why todays presser with BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is a joke if not an insult to every Britsh Columbian. It truly is just a repeat of what those of us who have been around long enough to remember similar assertions from past leaders.. as well as the broken promises to fix it. https://www.radionl.com/2019/01/24/opposition-leader-calls-for-an-end-to-partisan-sniping-and-for-work-to-begin-to-restore-faith-in-the-legislature/?sc_ref=twitter
Still under fire for ignoring if not aiding money laundering and speculators, his plea to halt partisan sniping comes off as self serving, considering he has yet to show enough class to even apologise to Plecas and Mullen for their very partisan smearing of the men prior to the report being made public.
Even Mary Polak, also on the LAMC committee, stands firm in her assertion Plecas did the wrong thing by not coming to the committee or the auditor general first with his concerns. ( Really Mary? And tip off the one person he had to establish a pattern of behaviour with, substantiated with evidence? Insert eyeroll here) Wilkinson talked around most questions today…which should tell you a lot about what more there may be to come from the rcmp investigation.
( not to mention a public inquiry which I suggest, AGAIN, Horgan get off the fence on)
The bright light here now, is that the current LAMC has two people that I think, will ensure the appropriate changes will finally be done. Sonia Furstenau and Gary Begg.
Gary is a former RCMP officer from Surrey and doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Sonia has shown herself to be a fierce defender of the people outside and inside the legislature, and I know she won’t be silent until it’s right.
Remember this and take it to heart. The people who work in the legislature, whether elected or not, serve the people of British Columbia. As we well know, some of those people have grown too comfortable over the years and have become entitled. It is my opinion that the benefits given to an MLA are too generous in this day and age, and clearly the salaries and benefits given to other senior employees are as well. Considering people on disability in this province are still living on meagre allotments that are leaving many homeless, the entitlement to claim per diems you haven’t used or take spouses on trips, or claim a cash option housing allowance with no receipts is just wrong. Period.
I’ve gone too long here so let me leave it with these two things:
READ the entire Plecas report and recommendations below