Christy Clark can run but she can’t hide from health firings scandal

Christy Clark

Photo courtesy of Province of British Columbia

These days, Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals are acting like a government with a lot to hide.

Let’s pick up where we left off last time. Following revelations that the B.C. government misled the public about the supposed RCMP investigation into the health researchers who were fired back in 2012, pressure on the government has been steadily rising this month. Demands for a full public inquiry are proliferating.

Sensing the government’s vulnerability, after an embarrassing series of evasions and quasi-apologies from Premier Clark, the Opposition NDP and leader John Horgan have pressed the issue.

And now the mainstream media has turned up the heat.

In a rare front page editorial last week, The Vancouver Sun went in hard: “Enough of the obfuscating, weaseling, dissimulation, doubletalk, verbal subterfuge, stonewalling and other distasteful conduct that hangs like a miasma over the shameful events surrounding the precipitous sacking of eight ministry of health employees in 2012.”

This tone is quite remarkable, coming as it does from a Postmedia newspaper that always endorses the B.C. Liberals at election time. The fact that they put this scathing editorial on the front of the paper signals they mean business.

The June 17 cover of the Vancouver Sun featured a rare editorial.

The June 17 cover of the Vancouver Sun featured a rare editorial.

Vaughn Palmer, the Sun’s senior correspondent covering provincial politics, has been leading the charge for the past few weeks on this issue. Palmer, the unofficial “dean” of the legislative press corps in Victoria, has repeatedly excoriated Clark and her ministers for their evasions – in one article he literally called the Premier out for “BS.” He recently wrote that the only way to get to the bottom of the 2012 firings is to get the current and former B.C. Liberal government Health Ministers before an inquiry: “Put them all under oath and let the chips fall where they may.”

When the editors and senior writers at Postmedia are taking the gloves off like this, you know the government is in trouble.

In my last column, I wondered when a scandal would finally stick to this government, which has been in power for over 14 years. The health ministry firings are now unquestionably sticking to Christy Clark, Teflon Premier no more.

Can the government scrub off the stain from this scandal, and why have they been acting like they have so much to hide?

After The Sun editorial made the rounds, Health Minister Terry Lake, for the first time, sounded as if the door to a full public inquiry had been cracked open. When asked if an inquiry was needed, he responded, “I’m not ruling anything out.” In subsequent interviews over the weekend it sounded like more would be forthcoming in the next days from Minister Lake.

NDP leader Horgan summed up the emerging consensus: “No government has the right to withhold information from the citizens that elect it. That is the key to this whole thing. The media gets it, the public gets it, the only people who apparently need to think about it a bit longer are B.C. Liberals.”

What would an inquiry uncover? Well, for one thing it would force people in authority to testify. In a government so lacking in transparency – remember they were just called out by a whistleblower for wantonly deleting potentially sensitive emails – it is essential that those in positions of power be compelled to answer questions under oath.

A full public inquiry of the proper scope would also be able to follow the money, including the big donations in recent years from pharmaceutical companies to the governing B.C. Liberals.

As I’ve argued before, an inquiry is overdue, and it is the bare minimum required in this matter.

Let’s remember that PhD co-op student Roderick MacIsaac took his own life after he was among those fired in 2012.

Why were he and his colleagues fired in the first place? What did the Premier know and when did she know it? Why did the government mislead the public for years about a so-called RCMP investigation? What, if any, role did corporate influence have on the decisions that led to the 2012 firings?

A man is dead. His family deserves answers. And the people of B.C. deserve answers too.

One thought on “Christy Clark can run but she can’t hide from health firings scandal

  1. Do you Think because they would be under oath that they would actually tell the truth? I’m not to be thinking so.

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