A man is dead and now it turns out the government misled the public for years
It’s a scandal so big it could take down a government. That is, if anyone were paying attention.
Last week, documents revealed shocking new dimensions to the B.C. government’s scandalous handling of the firing of seven health researchers back in 2012. At the time, and in the following months and years, the B.C. Liberal government and health minister claimed that an RCMP investigation into the researchers was underway.
But nothing ever came of that so-called investigation. Most of the researchers ended up settling wrongful dismissal cases with the government. One of them, co-op student Roderick MacIsaac, committed suicide after he was fired.
It turns out the government was lying about that RCMP investigation. It never happened, but the government misled the public into believing it was ongoing, even as it failed to provide the RCMP with information that could have been used to carry out a proper investigation.
This shocking fact was revealed in documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun through a Freedom of Information request:
“‘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.’”
In other words, for more than two years, the B.C. Liberal government carried on with a fake story about a very serious matter that contributed to the death of one person and damaged the livelihoods and reputations of others.
In 2014 the government apologized to Roderick MacIsaac’s family, but only after his sister called them out publicly. And what was the government’s response to the revelation that they had been misleading the public all this time? Another forced apology. Or rather, a non-apology apology.
When questioned by reporters last week, Premier Christy Clark at first refused to apologize for the small matter of her government carrying on for years about a non-existent RCMP investigation. According to CBC News, Clark said, “I don’t have anything more to add to that… what I’ve said in the past is we, government, very much regrets that mistake that was made. It shouldn’t have been made and (government) has apologized for it. It was wrong.”
According to the report on CBC, it took a follow-up question to force an apology: “Asked whether she was referring to an apology for the firings or for misleading the public, Clark answered, ‘Both’.”
So Clark offered a forced apology, sounding a bit like, “Sorry you’re so offended we lied to you.”
The Health Ministry firings and their fallout are just one example of just how opaque and arrogant the B.C. Liberal government has become. Recently a former employee exposed the government for deleting emails requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
Whistleblower Tim Duncan paints a shocking picture of an unethical government almost out of control behind the scenes. He objected when his bosses told him to delete emails related to the investigation of missing women on northern B.C.’s Highway of Tears. He told the Vancouver Province, “Here was the government playing games with these families. Instead of helping them get the answers they deserve, they were deleting emails and playing political games.”
These scandals make the news, but it often feels like the B.C. government is out of sight and out of mind for most people. Maybe it’s because the legislature has so rarely been in session in recent years, but no scandal, no matter how outrageous, has yet to really stick to Premier Clark.
The Teflon premier just moves on to the next shiny photo-op. In this case that meant standing on the shore of False Creek behind a podium decked out with the logos of Lululemon and AltaGas and announcing that on Sunday, June 21, the Burrard Bridge would be closed all morning for a giant yoga session.
Let’s not be distracted by the LNG-sponsored yoga spectacle. British Columbians need to work on being more mindful of provincial politics.