VANCOUVER – New documents show that the Liberal government misled the public by claiming the RCMP was investigating wrongfully fired health researchers.
“On Sept. 6, 2012, the Liberals announced there was an RCMP investigation implicating researchers they had just fired and different research bodies, including the Therapeutics Initiative,” said New Democrat MLA Adrian Dix. “But new documents reveal they had not yet provided any evidence to police to warrant an investigation, and would fail to do so for two years.
“In fact, the government didn’t transfer any information to the RCMP about the decisions to reinstate contracts and rescind terminations to clear individuals and agencies from this smear.”
Dix said the new revelations only further the need for a full public inquiry into this Liberal government scandal.
“Why did the Liberals choose to mislead the public, the RCMP, and the wrongfully terminated researchers over retracting the smear? Why did the Liberals choose to ignore legal advice against mentioning the RCMP in the first place? These and other important questions regarding this abuse of government power must be answered, can only be answered, through a public inquiry at this point,” said Dix.
One of the facts emerging from the latest documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun is that in September 2012 the government’s own information did not support a criminal investigation.
“The fact that RCMP had not received evidence at that time warranting a criminal investigation from the Liberals reinforces that senior members of the premier’s inner team chose to ignore legal advice to not mention the RCMP publicly,” explained Dix.
Last week, Dix released a legal services chronology showing that the government’s communication arm, then headed by the premier’s close advisors, received legal advice three times in a 16-hour period about mentioning the RCMP at the Sept. 6, 2012 press announcement.
The latest documents also reveal that the Liberals maintained the pretense of an RCMP investigation even after the police informed them last summer it was closing the file due to a lack of information.
“This is a scandal that led to the death of one researcher, Rodney MacIsaac, and damaged the lives and reputations of seven others,” said Dix. “If the premier was serious about getting to the bottom of this, she would order an independent inquiry into what her senior officials knew and what her cabinet ministers knew.”
FOIs show that the Christy Clark Liberals announced a RCMP investigation to smear wrongfully terminated researchers for over two years:
-On September 6, 2012, the Liberals hold a press conference where they say there is a RCMP investigation that implicates ministry health researchers and contracts awarded to independent drug evaluation groups.
“The Ministry of Health has asked the RCMP to investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct, contracting and data-management practices involving ministry employees and drug researchers.” (Source, Ministry press release, September 6, 2012)
“We cannot and will not tolerate anyone who attempts to break the rules, standards and laws for any reason. We will be working closely with other agencies to ensure that this data is used appropriately and ethically. This is part of an ongoing RCMP investigation so I cannot provide any more specifics at this time.” – (Source, Health Minister Speaking notes prepared for the September 6, 2012 press conference)
“We have been in contact with the Corporate Crime Section of the RCMP. We have provided the information we have gathered through our investigation for their review and action as appropriate.” (Source, Ministry Qs and As in relation to the September 6, 2012 press conference)
-However, according to the Liberals own briefing note prepared in the same time frame, the RCMP have not yet received the relevant findings and evidence on September 6, 2012. This information instead is to be forwarded on September 19, 2012.
“Complete investigation phase 1 by September 15, 2012 to ensure all evidence is prepared for transfer to the RCMP by September 19, 2012.” (Source, Government Briefing Note, prepared September 4, 2012)
-The RCMP does not receive this evidence by September 19. Instead, the government provides a high level overview of the allegations on October 15, 2012. According to RCMP summary notes, “the province’s investigation had not reached any conclusions that could support a criminal investigation.” (Source, RCMP Internal Documents)
– Over the course of 2013 and 2014, the government misses every promised deadline to provide information, four in total. As a result, the RCMP informs the government on July 16, 2014 it is closing the file due to a lack of information. (Source RCMP internal documents)
-Furthermore, in the intervening two years, the Liberals miss every opportunity to forward information to the RCMP about its decisions to reinstate drug research contracts and rescind terminations: Contracts with the Therapeutics Initiative and UVIC ADTI were reinstated in October 2013, and by September 2014 seven wrongful terminations were effectively rescinded.
-On October 8. 2014, when asked by the Official Opposition to rescind the allegations made to the RCMP, Premier Christy Clark and Health Minister Terry Lake stay silent about the police receiving no information from the government during the past two years. (Source, Hansard, October 8, 2014)
– On February 23, 2015, the government finally sends letters to the wrongfully terminated researchers saying it is not interested in the RCMP pursuing the 2012 allegations. However, Health Minister Terry Lake admits on May 26, 2015 that he has not yet called the RCMP to express this. (Source, Hansard, May 26, 2015)