Thursday, June 25, 2015

Health Care Research Inquiry...Vaughn Palmer, Policy Maker?


Which came first, the column or the Minister's 'new' idea?

Both were published today, Thursday June 25th, in the VSun (sans time stamp so I'm not entirely sure who was first as I'm just catching up now, at 7pm, due to busy sci-geek day).

Here's a bit from the 'double-happ(il)y' column by Mr. Palmer under the header 'Public Inquiry not always the best option':

...Happily, there are other options for getting answers and holding the government to account. The keys are independence, coupled with the ability to seek documents, summon witnesses, take testimony under oath and then to write a report that lets the chips fall where they may.

The independent officers of the legislature have the power to do all that and they exercise those powers whenever the need arises. They do so without the spectacle of public hearings and report back to the legislature in timely fashion.

Granted they sometimes incur substantial legal billings as well, though rarely to the extent of a public inquiry. In most instances, they complete their work on budget and in a matter of months.

Mindful of those possibilities, there have been suggestions — from Health Minister Terry Lake among others — to call in the auditor general on the health firings.

In an open letter to Lake Wednesday, seven fired researchers and the sister of an eighth who killed himself expressed a “strong preference” against the auditor general because of the office’s role in passing on the whistleblower complaint that led to the firings in the first place.

Happily there is another option, namely the provincial ombudsman. The leading precedent for that office to inquire into allegations of government wrongdoing was set back in the 1980s, when then ombudsman Stephen Owen reached some damning findings on political interference in the awarding of a pub licence on Knight Street in Vancouver....

And here's a bit from the happy Minister as reported by Rob Shaw:

...B.C.’s health minister says he’s considering asking the province’s independent ombudsperson to investigate the health firings scandal that has plagued the government.

Terry Lake told reporters Thursday that a probe into the botched firings of eight health researchers by the ombudsperson’s office is one way to conduct an independent inquiry without spending too much money or taking too much time.

Lake said asking for an independent watchdog to investigate the file would also address any conflict that exists between having members of the civil service, who were involved in the 2012 firings, continue to decide what information about the case can be released publicly.

“The office of the ombudsperson is potentially that,” Lake said, when asked Thursday...



Regardless who thought of this potential 'solution', (which the Keef has already given his blessing to, btw), all of this has me wondering...


As in why, suddenly, are the previously stonewalling Clarklandians now bending over backwards to pretend(?) that they are actually amenable to some kind of independent inquiry?


There is the following, which definitely did come out after both the 'column' and the Minister-babble late today, to consider:

Does anybody not understand the significance of this?



Anonymous said...

would they have also declined yvr taser death inquiry from Braidwood?

what would stone wally say?

ron wilton said...

A third 'option' would be to have the relevant law enforcement agency do the job they are supposed to be doing, even though palmer and the comptroller-general, whoever or whatever that is, found no 'evidence' of criminal wrongdoing.

Let the police make that decision.

Advice to clark and lake and company...when you find yourselves in a deep hole...stop digging.

Anonymous said...

Makes one wonder if the province's Ombuddy will have the gumption to look beyond the firings (including former Auditor Doyle's) to the root cause: corporate malicious meddling in the public service... I have little hope.

Remember that the BC Liberals slayed 2 very worthy drug review initiatives before these firings went down.

There is a record of crony corporate maleficence puppeteering the BC Liberals.

Lew said...

The brand new Ombudsperson is a former ADM from the Justice Ministry, arriving just in time for this assignment.

Is there a government agency, board, or commission in BC that isn't conflicted?

Don F. said...

This sorry bunch of fools, including Palmer, are over their heads with this and too stupid to even see it.
What don't they understand? They think that they the instigators are now going to decide how and when it gets dealt with and they have Vaughn Palmer trying ridiculously to lead them through it. I think not!
Someone has taken his life because of their games and they act as though, no they are saying, it's too expensive to deal with. How absurd!
I have seen these people do a lot of boneheaded things, ridiculous things, childish things and embarrassing but this is something different, some people really got hurt with this one and all they were guilty of was doing their jobs.
I ask Vaughn Palmer to show a little integrity and if it isn't in him to muster integrity then to shut up.
I ask that we as bloggers and commentors commit to not letting them sweep this one. That we are like pittbulls in keeping this alive so that there will some consequences. We have to make a stand here and now. We must be a voice for these people.
That could easily been my son, or your son, that they push to his death with their bullying and threats.
I have watched things progress from bollywood to murder and have seen enough.
This simply can't fall by the way and be forgotten. If need be I will champion this myself but believe together we will be stronger and bring some justice, if possible, to those who seek it.

Anonymous said...

The Ombudsperson Act

Anonymous said...

information control, marketing and bossing people around?

Anonymous said...

Shucks.......there does seem to be a lack of trust in our INDEPENDENT officers of the legislature. Rightly so. And individuals appointed with straight jacketed terms of reference.....well that's problematic too. Let's see perhaps we could call on someone who has already proven themselves.....ah who would that be ??? Stonewally Oppal......nobody to blame. David Loukidelis.....let's pay the legal bills of the perpetrators?

Hey, maybe Glen Greenwald. He's got some integrity and the province of BC is awash in cash or soon will be with LNG profits rolling in just after the next election. So we could afford to pay whatever it would cost. He might even be interested in digging into BC's challenged truthiness as symptomatic of the New World Order's ....ahhh hiccups.

Bottom line is we need a pile of inquiries and forget about the costs. We need some truth because the BS is costing us oodles of monies and LIVES. Turpel Lafond gives us regular updates on some of that sleaziness.

Oh...and public inquiries don't work that well????? Well change that. Just like Christie's hockey player commercials said.......Gid 'er done ...Christie.

Wayne in Victoria

Anonymous said...

This is an account of how ineffective the office of the ombudsperson is and how conflicted they are being appointed by the legislative assembly.

David E said...

Isn't it hilarious how Palmer and the Keef keep trying to find a way for the liberals to weasel their way out of their criminal actions.

And a public inquiry will be too expensive? Since when did these free spenders care about the public money. They have added $140 billion to the provinces debt in 14 years. Why don't Palmer and the Keef write about that?

Anonymous said...

all residents of BC should presume all facets of BC have been politically optimised?

Don F. said...

The RCMP were asked by the government, on behalf of the people of this province, to investigate these matters. It follows that for the people of this province they now have a mandate to do so.
The government represents the people and were asking as the people for an investigation.
The RCMP are obligated by their duty to the public to continue this investigation on our behalf.
Withholding evidence from the RCMP as the government has done, is that not in itself a criminal offence?
I ask that the RCMP continue their work on behalf of the people as is their duty to them.

Norm Farrell said...

Something I wrote last year at my place:

"[Vaughn] Palmer is very capable and years ago, he demonstrated how to hold the sitting government to account. But, those were the days when he was a full time journalist.

"Now, as an entertainer, he has to please the customers and he would not be depositing as many checks for speeches and public appearances if he didn't make the crony capitalists feel warm and fuzzy about the way they do business."

G West said...

Have a look at Sec 18 of the Ombudsperson's Act - The AG has the power to derail the whole shebang - only an inquiry under the Inquiries Act has the beans to get to the bottom of this - Palmer ought to know this.

RossK said...


Mr. Palmer was helpfully (and/or happily?) offering up Ombudsperson 'alternatives' to get around Horgan's concerns re: the new Ombud being forced to interview/interrogate his own previous staffers in today's column.

It's so good of the Dean to orchestrate things for the rest of us, eh?


G West, Victoria said...

It's not just that, sec 18 of the ombuddy act gives Ms Anton the authority to restrict the ombuddy's inquiry into any matter that concerns the deliberations of the executive council and or committees of that body. If, and it is a big if, the ombuddy actually got to sniffing around for any evidence that 'might' involve the premier and her minister(s) in the firings which (under the explicit terms of that section) she 'deemed' it NOT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST to disclose such materials or evidence to the ombuddy. Kinda a BC version of the 'executive privilege' argument (but enshrined in the very act that gives the ombuddy his or her authority) that Richard Nixon used to derail the special prosecutor in the Watergate matter in the US.
IF you want the truth there's only ONE sure way of getting it and that's using the powers under the INQUIRY ACT...

RossK said...


Got it.

Thanks GW.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of Health scandals...

Here's one that The Tyee's Andrew MacLeod dropped a few months ago...

"Cardiac surgeons on a selection committee at St. Paul's Hospital manipulated the hiring process for a training position so they could hire a student who was the son of their boss and of a provincial cabinet minister."

"The Tyee reported in 2013 that Kevin Lichtenstein received a residency position in cardiac surgery at St. Paul's Hospital through the University of British Columbia, where his father Sam Lichtenstein is the head of the division of cardiovascular surgery.

Sam Lichtenstein is also the director of cardiovascular thoracic (CVT) surgery at St. Paul's and the medical director for the regional cardiac science program at Providence Health Care and Vancouver Coastal Health.

"Kevin Lichtenstein's mother is Moira Stilwell, who was the minister of social development in Premier Christy Clark's cabinet before the 2013 election --though she's since been demoted to the government's backbench -- and who as a parliamentary secretary to the health minister wrote a report in 2011 titled "Action Plan for Repatriating BC Medical Students Studying Abroad." She is also a radiologist who before being elected was head of nuclear medicine at several hospitals, including St. Paul's."