Interesting the 8 people affected by the firings are requesting a public inquiry as to what went wrong and why. Clark has apologized and the government says they have to respect privacy concerns due to 2 lawsuits before the courts. It seems to me the individuals have authorized the government to go public. Who else needs their privacy protected? Click here to read the full story or an excerpt below.
Eight people affected by the over-reaching firings from the British Columbia health ministry in 2012 have signed an open letter asking Health Minister Terry Lake to launch an inquiry into what went wrong and why.
“We believe that the strength of democracy depends on unbiased evidence, which depends upon independent inquiry,” says the June 24 letter. “We call on the minister to commission a thorough and independent inquiry.”
While some of the people signing the letter have previously requested a public inquiry, several had not. This is the first time they’ve spoken on the matter with one voice.
The government has since reinstated two of the people who were fired, settled out of court in three wrongful dismissal and defamation lawsuits, and Clark has apologized for some of the firings and for misleading the public.
A review by lawyer Marcia McNeil of what went wrong with the firings was released in December 2014, but McNeil wrote that she could not answer the basic questions of who made the decision to fire the workers or why.
Politicians not involved, says Clark
Lake was unavailable for an interview, but has previously said he’s reluctant to call a public inquiry since there are still two lawsuits before the courts that are related to the firings and due to privacy concerns.
Premier Clark told reporters June 23 that she’s looking for ways to share more information with the public about what happened. “I have always wanted to make sure there is as much information disclosed as possible, to get the information out there so that people can see it,” she said.
“There have been some legal and privacy issues that have made it really hard for us to do that, so what I’m doing now is looking at how we can share as much information, disclose as much information as absolutely legally allowed and make sure we really come up with some answers in a very timely and cost-effective way,” Clark said.
She said the decisions about the firings were made by officials working in the civil service, not by politicians. “Politicians don’t get involved in hiring and firing other civil servants,” Clark said.
And Mike de Jong, the government house leader and finance minister, told reporters an inquiry would be expensive and unnecessary. He asked, “What is the question that is to be answered by an inquiry, that generally will require spending millions upon millions of dollars?”
De Jong was the health minister while the original investigation that led to the firings was underway. Margaret MacDiarmid publicly announced the investigation a day after taking over from him.
Unmask who fired employees and why: Horgan
It’s stunning that at this point de Jong doesn’t know what the question for an inquiry would be, said NDP leader John Horgan. “That staggers me.”
The inquiry would aim to answer the questions McNeil couldn’t, who fired the employees and why, Horgan said in a phone interview.
The inquiry needn’t be expensive as it would be confined to a handful of individuals who were involved in the investigation and decisions, he added. There are people who know what happened who need to fess up and who could do so in a forum where they are protected from the government, he said.
“It’s clear protection is needed from a vindictive government that’s already treated employees so shabbily,” he said.
Many people, including the former health deputy minister who signed the dismissal letters, Graham Whitmarsh, agree an independent inquiry is needed, said Horgan. “The only people who don’t are those who have something to cover up, and that’s the BC Liberals.”