Saturday, May 11, 2013

Surrey Liberal candidate contests lawsuit, faces regulatory challenge

The two sides in a medical negligence lawsuit disagree on many counts, but the most important fact cannot be disputed. A baby boy was not born to an immigrant from India.

Why it happened and who is to blame (if anyone is to blame) are at issue. Saroj Bala filed a medical negligence lawsuit in late-2010 against four doctors. One of them is the BC Liberal candidate in Surrey-Green Timbers.

Dr. Amrik Singh Tung is looking for a new job in Victoria. He is challenging NDP incumbent Sue Hammell to become the riding's MLA.

Tung was the lead doctor in treating Bala's pregnancy, which ended in tragedy when the fetus was stillborn on May 21, 2009.

Bala claims she was traumatized and sought psychiatric help after the death. Tung claims he followed procedure and denies the allegations.

Below are Bala's statement of claim and the statement of defence by Tung et al.

None of Bala's allegations has been proven in court. 

Here is my story from Business in Vancouver.

Bala separately complained to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. against Tung. The College concluded that Tung's record-keeping was insufficient and he did not ensure timely transfer to an obstetrician.

Bala was not satisfied. She wanted action against Tung. An appeal to the Health Professions Review Board was successful. It directed on Sept. 14, 2012 that Bala's complaint be sent back to the College for further review.

HPRB panel chair Lori McDowell refers to Tung not by name, but as "Registrant No. 1," in her findings. In considering the autopsy, McDowell wrote that "the only possible contributor to the stillbirth" is chronoamnionitis (fetal membrane inflammation due to bacterial infection).
"No conclusions could be drawn by the existence of gestational diabetes and no other findings were made to explain the stillbirth. There is no definitive cause of death noted. No reference is made to natural causes."
McDowell concluded:
"The disposition concluded that Registrant No. 1 be directed to meet with Registrar staff for a concluding interview to review these criticisms and secure his commitment that he will make changes to improve his record keeping and proactively direct similar patients to receive appropriate care...
"With regard to the complaints against Registrant No. 1 I find that the disposition was not reasonable. I direct that the matter be sent back to the Inquiry Committee for reconsideration with the following directions:
"(1) The Inquiry Committee must provide more information regarding their final directions to Registrant No. 1. In particular, the Inquiry Committee must detail the remedial approach if one was applied, specific education requirements, learning outcomes, follow-up, monitoring if that was required and any other consequence applied in this case.
"(2) The Inquiry Committee must provide information regarding the commitments obtained from Registrant No. 1 to ensure improved record-keeping and continuation of care for future patients."
Tung did not respond to my repeated requests for comment on the lawsuit and regulatory matters.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The $70,000 Question: Answered

On March 14, Premier Christy Clark tabled the in-house Dyble Report investigation into the Multicultural Outreach Strategy scandal. The report was not independent, but conducted by John Dyble, the Deputy Minister who serves at the pleasure of Clark.

The NDP revealed on Feb. 27 -- Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day -- that Clark's staff was doing party work on government time, spending the public dime, in a bid to win votes from ethnic groups in the 2013 election. That was against government rules.

Clark announced that the B.C. Liberal Party had paid $70,000 to the public purse, representing some of Quick Wins co-conspirator Brian Bonney's salary. Media outlets took the Premier for her word and published the $70,000 repayment as fact.

I wanted proof. So I filed a Freedom of Information request on March 22. The government told me that the deadline for disclosure would be May 2.

On May 2, I got a response from six ministries with a few pages of email that appears to be from citizens. But there is one important document missing.

I complained to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and senior staff at Information Access Operations -- the government's FOI clearinghouse. I even left phone and email messages on May 8 for Liberal president Sharon White, encouraging her to release a copy of the cheque.

Finally, a copy of the $70,000 cheque arrived on May 9. Albeit a calendar week late.

Two questions:

Why was it not provided to me on time?

Why didn't Premier Christy Clark -- who claims she champions open information and data -- just order her staff to publish a copy of the cheque when it was written on March 14?

See the request and the documents below.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Exclusive: Flip this house, by order of the court

Photo: Delighted to have the support of former NDP minister Gordon Wilson. Says Gordon: "I've worked with Adrian Dix. I've worked with Christy Clark. Christy Clark would make the better Premier."
Clark and Wilson: debt free? (Facebook)
Gordon Wilson was the man who drove the BC Liberals from zero to 17 seats in the 1991 election, lost the 1993 leadership vote to Gordon Campbell (in the wake of his affair with Liberal house leader/future wife Judi Tyabji), formed the Progressive Democratic Alliance with Tyabji in 1995, sailed into a 1999 cabinet post with the NDP and took over the Fast Ferries file.

Yes, there's more! He ran for the NDP leadership in 2000, but Ujjal Dosanjh was the eventual winner who led the NDP to oblivion in the following year's election against Campbell and the Liberals.

Now, a dozen years later, Wilson is back in the BC Liberals' fold. This time supporting Premier Christy Clark and her "vote for me and we'll be debt-free in 15 years" campaign leading to the May 14 election. Clark's "Debt-Free B.C." slogan has been attacked by the NDP as the "fact-free" campaign, for errantly claiming that bond rating agencies called the Liberal budget balanced. The 2013-2014 pre-election budget proposes increasing the debt by $6 billion and forecasts a $69 billion debt in three years. That doesn't include the list of $96 billion-plus in long-term, contractual obligations.

What is Wilson's true motivation for urging disaffected Liberals to "come home"?

Wilson is known by the nickname "Flip" for all his party changes. But he's not wilfully flipping his house on the aptly named Random Road in Powell River. That is also the address listed for his Duddles' Lair waterfront sheep farm.

The property is offered for $842,900, according to the listing below. A B.C. Supreme Court judge in Powell River ordered the immediate sale on Jan. 7. A summary of the case and the court's foreclosure order are both below.

On his blog, Wilson lists himself as the chairman of the board of Tugboat Enterprises Ltd., which owns Selkie Software data recovery and migration software. But the link from Wilson's blog to Tugboat Ventures goes to a website that is "down for maintenance." A toll-free phone number is listed, but the operator was unable to connect me to Wilson. A phone number on the Tugboat website registration is not in service.

Tyabji and Tugboat are listed as defendants in the long-running defamation lawsuit by former West Vancouver Liberal Member of Parliament Blair Wilson, who is unrelated. Another defendant is Mark Marissen, the ex-husband of Clark who remains a BC Liberal campaign strategist. Blair Wilson sued in fall 2008, after he switched to the Green Party. I have other documents that indicate this legal battle has not been kind to the wallets of Tyabji and Tugboat.

I reached out to Tyabji and Gordon Wilson late Monday afternoon via email and on Twitter, appealing for them to contact me. I have not had a response. I must assume that they can offer me a reasonable explanation about the legal and financial challenges they have faced. A home foreclosure cannot be a pleasant experience. I sincerely want to hear their side of the story and hope they will contact me as soon as possible.

UPDATE: The Wilsons' legal and financial woes are connected to a lawsuit involving Premier Christy Clark's ex-husband Mark Marissen (who remains a Liberal strategist) and an apparent failed attempt to sell Tugboat. Read the details here in Business in Vancouver.

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