BC Liberals

Liberal strategy emerges to contain health scandal

Rob Shaw’s article in the Liberal Party’s urban newspaper of record indicates a search for new scapegoats in the Health Research Scandal is underway. It is reported that departed ministry advisor Alana James is still worried about “conflicts of interest, contracting, privacy breaches, data handling and financial matters involving ministry health research and contracting.”

This is more spin from friends of BC Liberals. James admits that MacIsaac — the person most deserving of sympathy — was a scapegoated victim but only refers to the other fired individuals as low hanging fruit. She reiterates accusations about “conflicts of interest, contracting, privacy breaches, data handling and financial matters involving ministry health research and contracting.”

MacIsaac is the only person absolved by James and she wants the net cast even more widely, perhaps into the middle branches. She does not imply misconduct at the highest levels of the Christy Clark government.

Here is the real crux of the message in the Vancouver Sun:

James also rejected speculation that the firings were related to research about specific drugs, funding for the Therapeutics Initiatives drug evaluation group or the influence of big pharmaceutical companies on the B.C. Liberal party, calling those discussions “a red herring.”

This article may indicate the exit strategy Liberals hope to use.

They need to protect the Premier, the party managers and the business of their corporate sponsors. They can’t admit this heartless effort to end independent drug research was designed by people who sit closely to the Premier. Instead, they’ll leak information that, indeed, serious offences had occurred but crimes by researchers could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, “It’s not that they were innocent, just that they couldn’t be proven guilty.”

plankHowever, the need to contain political damage and assign some degree of managerial blame still exists.  John Dyble and Christy Clark need a mid-level functionary to resign while admitting he or she could have done more to ensure a successful investigation. Public Service Agency head Lynda Tarras retired and former Deputy Minister Graham Whitmarsh lawyered up and refused to be a fall guy. Current Deputy Health Minister Stephen Brown is loyal and was elsewhere when the situation began. The search is for someone who will exchange a little discomfort for a half-million severance and a friendly recommendation or early pension. It’s been done before.

In a case of life emulating art, I’m reminded of an episode of the TV series VEEP, from season 4. Show notes:

“The staff is caught in the middle of a large scandal and starts looking for someone to take the blame… Dan finds new work after being fired from the White House…”

Now who on that very long list of Christy Clark’s political appointees is ready to move on?

Categories: BC Liberals, Ethics

27 replies »

  1. I see your point Norm.

    However, I read the story a little differently, mostly because of what Ms. James had to say about why it would NOT be a good idea to have the ombudsperson investigate.



  2. I side with Norm's analysis. Alana James claims to have evidence in form of correspondence. Whatever evidence she has would be available to senior government officers since they have various archives of old files. (Digital files typically exist in numerous layers, you don't simply have one correspondence file and a single backup. There will be a series of dated backups.)

    Evidence might not meet the test of criminality but government has avoided defending their actions in civil court where the standards are even lower. Instead, Government settled civil cases associated with this matter. That's a strong indicator that no significant wrongdoing took place – stronger than words to a reporter by someone with unknown motives who now lives on the other side of the world.

    The explanation that appears most logical is the one Norm advances. Clark's government was gunning for drug researchers who made her financial supporters unhappy.


  3. A witch-hunt in this affair has already been conducted, but it was the witches that were doing the hunting. Although they collaterally damaged lives (and arguably took one), they failed to impress the RCMP with what they brought home. The Comptroller General wasn’t impressed either, but his office told the RCMP they were facing staffing shortages and legal stonewalling so we shouldn’t have expected much in any case from that shop. It would be interesting to know who inside government was stonewalling the Comptroller General and why.

    Ms. James says she named names higher up than those targeted and specified what they were doing. That would indicate the witches deliberately looked, or were ordered to look, lower; in the wrong place. Which makes one wonder what the hell the RCMP thinks their role is in this matter. Is sitting on their asses waiting for the government to provide evidence of its own wrongdoing on a silver platter effective police work? Have they interviewed Ms. James to get the names she named and their activities, and compared those to the story the government (including the Comptroller General) has provided them so far? Or are they more comfortable as bemused onlookers?

    Anyone willing to take a half-million severance and a little discomfort for wearing what happened to these researchers and Rod MacIsaac would have to be a very special kind of person. Like a guilty one. Or a witch.


  4. And to think that all this time I thought drugs, money, and power, were things associated with dealers, gangs, organized crime et al.


  5. It does seem this woman is fairly free, given she now resides in Australia, to state what she knows rather than to try and change the direction. Why not state what she truly knows or says she does??
    She states that she has access to emails and correspondence so why not make them available?


  6. Q “Now who on that very long list of Christy Clark's political appointees is ready to move on”?

    A None, the rats are quite content til the ship is completely under water!


  7. What is it going to take to bring this Government down?
    There is a very long list of BC politicians who have been run out of office for far less.

    Why is Mr. Horgan willing to wait this out until 2017?
    At the very least, there must be something in Hansard exposing lies to the House regarding the “ongoing RCMP investigation.”


  8. You were right when you said on CFAX Weds. that there will be more distractions. Yesterday they got to bury Mt. Polly too.They had the info but apparently don't have to tell the people of a pending disaster.Keep up the pressure.


  9. It is an improvement on Shaw's previous piece but he smears people again:

    “while some of the fired researchers were part of her allegations, others, such as MacIsaac, weren’t accused of wrongdoing but were instead dragged into it by ministry investigators.”

    Shaw knows that the source of the original allegations is not reliable. He should not be repeating claims that some researchers were and some weren't involved in wrongdoing.



  10. At least Rob Shaw reported the accuser and the former auditor general are now married.

    However, it she's “not reliable” maybe he's not the best source either.

    Time for a real judicial inquiry, not a half-baked one by a guy just recruited from the senior ranks of civil servants who have been managing this sad lot.


  11. Clark and de Jong's disingenuous comments (and Palmer's cheerleading) that a public inquiry would be too costly are insulting.

    Here we have a Government that just spent 6.5 million on a doomed referendum, 6 million on an illegal plea bargain, 1 billion on a stadium upgrade; and I could continue, ad nauseum. Such a shameful sham.

    The other is their mocking concern that it would take too long.
    Christy has kneecapped the process for two years. A year ago she promised to get at the truth then handicapped the appointed investigator.

    My God, ordinary working people of BC were gassed here, their lives turned upside down, their personal and professional reputations shredded.

    Mr. MacIsaac took his own life.

    Too costly; too time consuming.
    My Irish Arse!!!


  12. Vaughn Palmers antics with this story have put me over the top.
    He doesn't even try to hide his bias anymore.
    You have to wonder what the little troll gets paid off with…..


  13. There are several individuals who have so far escaped scrutiny in the matter of why the government maintained there was an ongoing police investigation into the conduct of government health researchers. Shirley Bond, Suzanne Anton, and Richard Fyfe.
    The Attorney General Act states:
    The Attorney General
    (a) is the official legal adviser of the Lieutenant Governor and the legal member of the Executive Council,
    (b) must see that the administration of public affairs is in accordance with law,
    (c) must superintend all matters connected with the administration of justice in British Columbia that are not within the jurisdiction of the government of Canada,…
    f) must advise the heads of the ministries of the government on all matters of law connected with the ministries,…

    Successive ministers of health were advising the public there was an active criminal investigation underway into the activities of health research employees in the ministry. Although it would not be appropriate for the Attorney General to advise individual members of the Executive Council that they were the subject of a criminal investigation, it would be consistent with the Attorney General’s obligations under the Act to advise the ministers of health that the public statements they were making about ongoing criminal investigation into the activities of others was inaccurate. Why didn’t Ms. Bond or Ms. Anton do so?

    Richard Fyfe was the Deputy Attorney General through this affair and his responsibilities include police services. Despite a couple of blemishes along the way, like signing the legal agreement on behalf of the Crown in the Basi/Virk payoff that obligated Graham Whitmarsh to sign releases for which it now appears he did not have authority, secretly negotiating plea bargains with the defendants in a criminal trial being prosecuted by a special prosecutor, conspiring to withhold those facts from the special prosecutor or the judge, and overseeing the organization that provided the legal advice in the health firings scandal in the first place, he seems to be a capable deputy. He would therefore have been aware there was no ongoing police investigation and would have advised the Attorney General of that fact.

    A full investigation into this matter must involve the Attorney General’s office. Are we to expect the Ombudsperson, who just came out of the Attorney General’s offices, to fairly examine or be seen to fairly examine the role of his fellows and previous superiors? I think not.


  14. Lew, I hope you're in for the long haul! This travesty DEMANDS a public inquiry and, reading your post, it would seem you know what you're talking about. How about it? Are you up for the show?
    I just wish it would somehow reinvigorate the old BC Rail fiasco.


  15. Hopefully we’re all in for however long the haul takes on this one, John.

    As for the BC Rail issues, I devote time each day looking for avenues that will lead to some accountability for the folks that pulled it off, and am never going to quit. One of those who assisted greatly in attempting to bury the details of how the trial was concluded was Acting Auditor General Russ Jones, and there isn’t a mainstream journalist with the backbone and wit to hold him to account for it in all of British Columbia. I’d love to get an hour over coffee with one that would.


  16. John's aghast;
    I understand where you are coming from here and always enjoy reading your comments but…

    Let's not expect “someone” to do something and leave the heavy lifting to the likes of Lew. We all need to do our part by dogging our opposition MLAs, repeatedly if necessary, until there are no questions remaining.

    You, every reader of this blog and I need to be “in for the long haul.”

    I'm not one to write letters to MLAs but feel strongly about this and will be sending brief pleadings to:

    >Gary Holman, my MLA
    >John Horgan,Opposition Leader
    >Judy Darcy, Health Critic
    >Mike Farnworth, Justice Critic
    >Leonard Krog, Justice Critic
    >Carole James and Kathy Corrigan, just because I have faith in their dedication to us

    If the opposition fails us on this single issue, we might just as well give up on what is left of democracy.

    Those of us who can take the time to comment on blogs can surely find the time to send a simple, strong email to those we elected, to act and earn our continued support.



  17. Regarding Hawgwash's advice to “send an email to those we elect”.Well I took the time to send a strongly worded email to EACH sitting MLA of all stripes regarding the firing of the Health care Employees and subsequent misleading the Electorate and the Federal Police Force. That was 10 working days ago.
    Here is the responses received.
    A Form letter from my Liberal MLA “inviting me to contact his Office, so as to book an appointment to speak with him”.
    As I'd be out of pocket for FOUR ferry trips {return} I'll pass on listening to his handlers spin, and talking points, and let his actions speak instead. So far, nothing.
    A thoughtful personal reply from 7 NDP MLA's, Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver, one Independent, and a personal phone call from John Horigan's Office.
    Add to that a Form Letter (and I'm working from memory here), but I'd estimate 65% of the Opposition MLA's.
    From the 49 sitting Liberals, excluding the aforementioned, I received not as much as a confirmation, much less a reply.
    Their silence is deafening…………………….
    Gary L.


  18. Given the above information and commentary one can conclude that;

    A conspiracy to hide a truth or serious truths is ongoing.
    The individuals who were fired, obviously found far more information about government involvement with
    “big pharma”, than the government cares to let on, some of which may be damning,
    The conspiracy involves the Health ministry, the Premiers office and the office of the Attorney General.
    The “intent” of the cover up, involved using a so called 'Police Investigation”, to stall or hide the process of an investigation.
    At the very least, it is abuse of legislative process, at worst it borders on obstruction of justice.
    The original inquiry was a political sham. The rehiring of those involved part of an elaborate cover up.
    A second enquiry using a member of the Attorney Generals office, is not an acceptable solution, due to a probable bias and the past
    involvement by that office.
    Government officials are “lawyering up” for the coming “retribution and scapegoat selection”

    Why have not records from the Attorney Generals office, the Health ministry, and the Premiers office not been seized by the police, as part of an investigation of the “party's” involvement in this. This fits the definition of an organized conspiracy.
    This is “NOT” democratic governance, this is contempt for the people involved, the legislative process, the public, and the taxpayers.
    This is organized “white collar” crime.
    Where are the police?


  19. “The original inquiry was a political sham.”

    Remember, Marcia McNeil, the “independent” lawyer hired to conduct the health ministry examination, was the wife of an information officer appointed by Order-in-Council of the Liberal Government.

    Press gallery members can't report details like this because a number of members have similar arrangements. It can be financially rewarding to treat Government and friends as they wish to be treated.



  20. An easy method of adding to established facts here would be for Clark's Government to declare that the fired workers who received financial settlements for wrongful dismissal are no longer bound by confidentiality clauses of the settlements.


  21. Dear Hawgwash, Thanks for your reply and suggestion. I did not do as you suggested as I anticipated a response similar to that received by Gary L and I don't handle rejection well. As well, I'm not as erudite as some of you (and perhaps I'm just old and lazy). I believe that there are some out there in the interhaze that are as disgruntled (not strong enough word!) as I and are capable of pursuing this issue to its just conclusion. Me? I'm just an ember fanner trying to set the blaze afire. Please hang in there!


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