Tuesday, June 30, 2015

This Day In Clarkland...They Don't Call Him The Dean For Nothing.


Last Thursday we noticed that Mr. Palmer of the VSun and the current Clarklandian Minister pretty much simultaneously came up with the 'idea' of taking the health care researcher firing mess to the Ombudsperson instead of setting up a public inquiry.

And then Mr. Horgan weighed in, as noted by Cindy Harnett of the VTC:

...B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan argued the province’s new ombudsperson, Jay Chalke, a former assistant deputy minister of justice who starts on July 2, would be in the position of investigating his former staff.

“I think that’s a pretty difficult start to a new job,” Horgan said. “It’s not fair to the individuals or the office.”...

And how did the 'Dean' of the Lotuslandian Legislative gallery respond, almost immediately, in his next column the following day (i.e. Friday)?


...The ombudsman, as noted here Thursday, has all the powers needed to get to the bottom things: summon witnesses, take testimony under oath, seek documents and so forth. The office is independent of government and reports directly to the legislature. And if past practice is any guide, an independent officer of the legislature can get the answers in a matter of months if not weeks, unlike public inquiries, which can drag on for years.

But the office is in transition, with outgoing ombudsman Kim Carter preparing to step down and her successor, Jay Chalke, not scheduled to take up a six-year term until July 1.

He comes highly recommended by both parties in the legislature. The New Democrats and the B.C. Liberals on the selection committee last month signed off unanimously on a report that said he has “an extensive background in … the conduct of fair and independent investigations.”

Sounds like an ironclad testimonial. But as the New Democrats among others pointed out, Chalke has served for the past few years as an assistant deputy in the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General.

The ministry would likely be drawn into any inquiry because of the outstanding question of who decided to put that business into the press release about the fired health workers being under police investigation.

In light of that concern, Chalke could chose to delegate the investigation to the deputy ombudsman or another official, as is permitted under the legislation for his office.

Before getting to that point, he would first have to agree that the office should take on the matter, and he can’t be asked to do that until he takes up his duties later next week. He could refuse, after concluding that this mess was the last thing he needs as the new watchdog on the block.

The Ombudsperson Act does say that the “the legislative assembly or any of its committees may at any time refer a matter to the ombudsperson for investigation and report.”

In that event, the ombudsman must 1) investigate and 2) report back. So if the government really wanted to engage the office, it could proceed by bringing in a motion when the house sits July 13...


Notice how that wee little matter of a potential conflict of interest was deftly swept under the rug by the good Mr. Palmer.


By Sunday that noted deep thinker and all around deep sea 'both-sides-do-it' diver, Mr. Smyth of The Province, went out of his way to try and turn the three-day-old 'Ombuddy Solution' into conventional wisdom:

...Watch for the government to appoint provincial ombudsman Jay Chalke to investigate and produce a public report. It’s not the full public inquiry critics are demanding, but Chalke has the power to subpoena documents and witnesses.

The announcement of such an inquiry may come soon — before the legislature resumes sitting for a rare summer session starting July 13...

Sure Mr. Chalke has the 'power'.

But here's the thing...

Would the Clarklandians, and more specifically, Attorney General Ms. Suzanne Anton, actually let him wield it, especially if his preliminary investigations led him to the 'Executive Council' (i.e. the Clarklandian inner sanctum)?

Reader GWest sent us to the heart of that matter's darkness in the actual Ombudsperson's Act.

Section 18 to be exact:

Attorney General may restrict investigative powers

18 (1) The Ombudsperson must not enter any premises and must not require any information or answer to be given or any document or thing to be produced if the Attorney General certifies that entering the premises, giving the information, answering the question or producing the document or thing might

(a) interfere with or impede the investigation or detection of an offence,

(b) result in or involve the disclosure of deliberations of the Executive Council, or

(c) result in or involve the disclosure of proceedings of the Executive Council or a committee of it, relating to matters of a secret or confidential nature and that the disclosure would be contrary or prejudicial to the public interest.

(2) The Ombudsperson must report each certificate of the Attorney General to the Legislative Assembly not later than in the Ombudsperson's next annual report.

Do you see what's really going on here now?

There's a Club?....You bet there is.
Up next...The public inquiries that Mr. Palmer did NOT tell you about when he wrote the original 'Ombuddy Solution' column...Stay tuned...



North Van's Grumps said...

#15 is over ridden by #18?

15. ......the Ombudsperson may do one or more of the following:

> (a) at any reasonable time enter, remain on and inspect all of the premises occupied by an authority, talk in private with any person there and otherwise investigate matters within the Ombudsperson's jurisdiction;

> (b) require a person to furnish information or produce, at a time and place the Ombudsperson specifies, a document or thing in the person's possession or control that relates to an investigation, whether or not that person is a past or present member or employee of an authority and whether or not the document or thing is in the custody or under the control of an authority;

> C D Etc

Unknown said...

Here is a paragraph from "Necessary Illusions" by Noam Chomsky. It was published in1989. Its subtitle is "Thought Control in Democratic Societies" from page 10.

"Case by case, we find that conformity is the easy way, and the path to privilege and prestige; dissidence carries personal costs that may be severe, even in a society that lacks such means of control as death squads, psychiatric prisons, or extermination camps. The very
structure of the media is designed to induce conformity to established doctrine. In a 3 minute stretch between commercials, or in 700 words, it is impossible to present unfamiliar thoughts or surprising conclusions with the argument and evidence required to afford them some credibility. Regurgitation of welcome pieties faces no such problem."

Lew said...

If this case is turned over to the Ombudsperson by the Legislature for investigation, you can forget about discovering the full truth. The investigation will not be conducted publicly and any findings will be reported back to the Legislature through a legislative committee because in accordance with section 10 (5) of the Ombudsperson Act sections 23 through 26 do not apply. It will be years before the watered down version of the watered down investigation is revealed and the MSM waters even that version down. The report by the Acting Auditor General into the Basi/Virk payoff provides guidance in that regard.

The Acting Auditor General (temporarily installed after the very effective Mr. Doyle was effectively fired for his effectiveness) was quoted by Vaughn Palmer in May 2013 saying that the audit his predecessor vigorously pursued to the extent of taking the government to court to obtain documents would be out in a month and the Basi/Virk deal would probably not figure in the findings at all. Six months later, his report was released and not only focused on the waiver and stated that the audit was only undertaken because of public concerns about it, but slavishly bent over backwards trying to justify the deal to the point of contradicting itself multiple times on key issues. So what changed his opinion in those six months? Or more to the point, who changed his opinion? His report raised many additional questions Vaughn Palmer and his cohorts in the legislative press gaggery will not touch. The BC Liberal majority on the legislative committee examining the audit report also voted down a motion to have key witnesses appear to answer said questions, which remain unanswered to this day.

One of those is how the Acting AG could use the same criteria to reject the loan provisions in the indemnities as he used to accept the amendments.