Commissioner’s investigation into multicultural outreach strategy falls short

(Victoria, 1 August 2013) – The investigation by B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham into alleged information sharing between the B.C. government and B.C. Liberal Party falls short and will do little to satisfy public concerns over the ill-fated multicultural outreach strategy, according to IntegrityBC.

The organization noted that only four individuals were interviewed under oath by the Commissioner’s office for their investigation. They were Brian Bonney, Fiera Lo, Michele Cadario, and Sepideh Sarrafpour. However, of particular concern to IntegrityBC was the fact that the B.C. Liberal party was allowed to name its representative to be interviewed for the purposes of the investigation.

Former chief of staff to the premier and current B.C. Liberal party campaign director Mike McDonald has not been interviewed by either the Dyble Review into the strategy or the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s investigation, even though McDonald figured prominently in email exchanges related to the strategy.

Equally, not a single individual who attended any of the roundtables seems to have been interviewed by the Commissioner’s office and no attempt made to appeal to the three individuals who called the government to complain about the use of personal information collected at the roundtables to step forward.

Former MLA Harry Bloy, who was the minister responsible for multiculturalism when the strategy was conceived, nor former minister John Yap were interviewed, even though it was Yap who acknowledged to the Dyble Review that using personal emails accounts was to avoid freedom of information legislation.

“According to the Commissioner’s findings, B.C. Liberal party operatives are asking the public to buy that the only reasons personal email accounts were ever used is because government issued smartphone batteries ran out, their government email in-boxes were full, or it was easier to print documents,” noted IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis. “Excuses that in 2013 are a bit rich.”

IntegrityBC is calling on the auditor general to conduct a full, thorough and independent investigation into the strategy.

“Piecemeal investigations into the outreach strategy do not serve British Columbians,” said Travis. “The public deserves better than an investigation by John Dyble that through its terms of reference could only scratch the surface of the strategy, followed by a document dump after the May election, and now a cursory investigation into a singular aspect of it.”

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For more information:

Dermod Travis, Executive Director

IntegrityBC

(O) 250-590-5126