Thursday, March 14, 2013

Quick Wins scandal report soft on Clark

The first line of the Analysis and Conclusions section in the Review of the Draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan says everything.
"It is the conclusion of the review team that there were violations of the Public Service Standards of Conduct." 
Put simply, government employees were doing party business on government time, using the public dime. It confirms what you saw here first. That Premier Christy Clark's deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad held meetings during government working hours, contrary to government rules. But it gets worse than that, as you can read below in the full report.

Instead of referring this scandal to an independent watchdog (such as Auditor-General John Doyle) for a thorough investigation, Clark opted for an in-house review. She appointed her Deputy Minister John Dyble -- the mandarin she hired for $310,000-a-year -- to rush it out in two weeks. It was tabled on the morning of the last day of the Legislative session. The scandal dominated the last Question Period, where Clark trotted out her well-rehearsed lines in response to hard questioning from NDP house leader John Horgan: 
"...the essence of leadership is not to hide. It's not to run away. It's not to deny responsibility. It's to accept responsibility when something wrong has been done and then do everything you can to make it right. That is the definition of leadership... When we make mistakes, we have a responsibility to step up, not to deny that a mistake was ever made. We have a responsibility to look into it, not to deny the opportunity for the light to shine on it. And we have a responsibility to fix it so that it doesn't happen again."
On this day, Clark was taking "responsibility" for "mistakes." Admitting no culpability or knowledge, but minimizing the affair, by calling it a "mistake." She might as well have labelled it a "boo boo." It was a well-thought strategy and the Liberals got caught. Clark had previously apologized for only the "language" in the Quick Wins memo and denied that public funds were used improperly. Haakstad and Multiculturalism Minister John Yap resigned. Yap's aide, Mike Lee, also resigned. In the report, Lee communicated with the now disgraced Yap via private email about leaving no trace of evidence.

Clark pledged for the Liberals to repay the government $70,000 for the misused resources. That is the equivalent of 175 of the $400-a-plate tickets to the Liberals' annual Premier's Dinner on April 8 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. 


Dyble seems to have done the best he could under the circumstances, but there are holes that could have been filled by an independent investigator. We might have to wait until June -- after the May 14, 2013 election -- to see some of the 10,000 documents gathered (but not read) as part of the review! (More on that in a moment.)

Dyble only mentioned his boss, Premier Clark, three times: 
Page 3: On February 28, 2013, John Dyble, Deputy Minister to the Premier, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the BC Public Service was asked by Premier Christy Clark and Cabinet to undertake a review of the draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan to ensure that no government resources were inappropriately used or violations of the Public Service Act (Public Service Standards of Conduct) committed.
Page 8: On February 28, 2013, John Dyble, Deputy Minister to the Premier, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the BC Public Service was asked by Premier Christy Clark and Cabinet to undertake a review of the draft Plan to ensure that no government resources were inappropriately used or violations of the Public Service Act (Public Service Standards of Conduct) committed.
Page 19Premier Christy Clark, MLA Harry Bloy and MLA John Yap were all interviewed as part of this review. All of them stated that they had never seen the draft strategy document or work plan until they were in the public domain in the week of February 25, 2013.
That's right, on page 19, she is said to have claimed to have never seen the "Quick Wins" document. The key question that is unanswered is this: did she know about the strategy? 

She met on a weekly basis with Haakstad to discuss communications and event planning. Haakstad was her closest confidant, a sidekick since 2001. 


If Clark, both Premier and leader of the BC Liberals, truly knew nothing, then is she oblivious to the activities of her staff and is she worthy of holding the Premiership?


As for those 10,000 pages, this is what the news release said: 


"With the completion of this review, the review team has directed the approximately 10,000 pages of records be prepared for public release consistent with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act within 60 working days from release of this report, to post them on the Open Information website."

This is a nifty trick played by the government, to keep the background information on Dyble's in-house review secret until after the election. 

Section 20(1)(b) of the Act says a public body may refuse to disclose records that are to be published within 60 days. The government gave public notice in the news release that it intends to release thousands of pages "within 60 working days." So, by my count, there were 43 working days until the election when the report was released on March 14. A "document dump" in early June, perhaps? 


The full report is at the bottom of this post, but read the timeline first. 

Appendix D: Detailed Chronology

March 14, 2011: Harry Bloy appointed Minister of Social Development and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism.
September 26, 2011: Harry Bloy appointed Minister of State for Multiculturalism, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. 
December 1, 2011: Kim Haakstad calls the Meeting: Brian Bonney, Dave Ritchie, Mike Lee, Barinder Bhullar, and Pamela Martin attend along with caucus employees, Primrose Carson, Jeff Melland, Lorne Mayencourt, a fourth caucus employee and Fiera Lo for the BC Liberal Party. 
December 5, 2011: The first draft of the excel spreadsheet (work plan) is developed by Mike Lee and Dave Ritchie. 
Dave Ritchie sends the first draft of the work plan to Primrose Carson. 
December 20, 2011: Stephen Harris creates the first draft of draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan. 
January 6, 2012:  Dave Ritchie sends the documents to Primrose Carson (Caucus) as the “coordinator” of the documents. His note says that Kim Haakstad’s edits are incorporated. 
January 10, 2012: Kim Haakstad uses her personal email to send the final drafts of the documents to some of the meeting participants using their personal email accounts. She references a conference call on January 11, 2012. 
January 11, 2012: Kim Haakstad chairs a conference call at 11:30 am to discuss the documents.
February 29, 2012: Dave Ritchie is appointed Ministerial Assistant to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. 
March 16, 2012 (sic):  Minister of State Harry Bloy resigns. (Bob note: Resignation was March 15). 
March 24, 2012: John Yap is appointed Minister of State for Multiculturalism, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. 
May 3, 2012: Chair of Treasury Board approves spending plan for Minister of State for Multiculturalism office. 
May 28, 2012: Fiera Lo is appointed Executive Assistant to Minister of State for Multiculturalism. 
June 11, 2012: Request for Qualifications for Multiculturalism Community Liaison Contractors is released. 
June 16, 2012: Minister Yap attends an event in Richmond organized by one of the Community Liaison Contractors. 
June 28, 2012: Mike Lee confirms to Minister Yap by email that he has assisted with three prospective proponents with the procurement process. 
July 4, 2012: Request for Qualifications for Community Liaison Contractors closes. 
July 31, 2012: Shannon Baskerville, responsible Assistant Deputy Minister with the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, confirms with Minister Yap by email the names of the six people confirmed as qualified for the community liaison consultants. 
August 2, 2012: A decision note is prepared by program director Mark Seeley to Shannon Baskerville confirming the decision to select and proceed to contract with four of the six community liaison consultants. 
August 7, 2012: Minister of State Yap sends an email to Sarah Welch, Fiera Lo and Brian Bonney suggesting an agenda for a meeting to be held with the caucus outreach workers and the community liaison contractors. 
August 7, 2012: Mike Lee is appointed Executive Assistant to the Minister of Transportation and Sarah Welch is appointed Ministerial Assistant to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism. 
August 9, 2012: Brian Bonney sends an email to Minister Yap confirming that he’s booked the room for a meeting on August 13, 2012 and suggesting that he’ll call both the caucus outreach workers and the community liaison contractors to confirm their attendance. 
August 13, 2012: A meeting is convened in Minister of State Yap’s office with Minister Yap, Brian Bonney, Fiera Lo, Sarah Welch, the two caucus outreach workers along with the four proposed community liaison contractors. 
August 14, 2012: Brian Bonney sends an email to the four community liaison contractors saying he would like to set up individuals meetings with them to go over job duties, expectations and processes and references a template document that he will soon be sending to them. 
September 5, 2012: Minister of State responsibilities are transferred to the Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology and John Yap is appointed the Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology and the Minister responsible for Multiculturalism. 
September 18, 2012: Brian Bonney sends an email to the community liaison contractors advising them to submit their event profiles but not to use the “party” form that had previously been provided. 
September 26, 2012: Another anonymous call is made to Mark Seeley, Multiculturalism program director. The caller advises Mark that they provided their name and personal information, which seemed odd to them at the time. Following that, they began receiving political information at their home and made the connection that this must have resulted from the meeting. 
September 28, 2012: Anonymous call made to Deb Zehr, the former Executive Director at Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, to complain that they were being “threatened” that if they didn’t put on an event for the minister, their organization may not receive funding under the grant program. 
Early October, 2012: A third anonymous call is made to Madhavee Inamdar, (sometime between the 5th and the 16th of October). The caller states that they were at a function and pressured to provide a full list of the names and phone numbers of all club members. The names of Fiera Lo and Brian Bonney were mentioned. It was also suggested by Fiera Lo that the caller should not call the Chair of the Multicultural Advisory Council to report this as it would make trouble for the organization. 
October 24, 2012: Dawn Minty, Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for the Multiculturalism program meets with Rishi Sharma and Sarah Welch, the two Ministerial Assistants to Minister Yap, and advised them that she will be recommending that the contracts not proceed with the community liaison contractors. 
November 9, 2012: A letter is sent to the four proposed community liaison contractors to advise them that the contracts will not proceed. They are invited to submit invoices for any planning work undertaken. 
January 15, 2013: A payment is made to one of the contractors in the amount of $6800.00. 
January 24, 2013: Brian Bonney resigns with an effective date of February 21, 2013. 
February 27, 2013: The memo with the draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan attached is tabled in Question Period.

2 comments:

G West said...

So, the "strategy" which would seem to have begun more or less from the time Ms Clark became the 'leader' and continued (if we accept the indications) until the present is meant to have been done without the knowledge of Ms. Clark?

Stretches one's credulity - given the numbers of people (and their connections) involved.

It remains to be seen how 'easily' Clark will get off.

mark mounce said...

Great work, Bob. It will be interesting to see who received the 10,000 e-mails, especially the 1100 that Bonney reportedly sent.

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