No answers for family of deceased health researcher

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VICTORIA – The government’s review into the shameful firing of health researchers leaves too many unanswered questions, say B.C.’s New Democrats.

“Three months ago, Linda Kayfish came to the legislature seeking justice for her late brother, Roderick MacIsaac. She had only two questions. Who was responsible for her brother’s dismissal, and why?” said New Democrat Leader John Horgan.

In her report released Friday, Marcia McNeil said “Two of the most difficult questions I considered during my review were who effectively made the dismissal decisions, and what factors we considered. These questions remain unanswered.”

McNeill continued, “No one has taken responsibility for making the effective recommendation to dismiss the employees. Instead, those most likely to have made the effective recommendation all pointed to someone else.”

“The premier made a solemn promise to get to the bottom of these wrongful dismissals.  It’s clear now that, even while she was saying that ‘in her heart’ she knew her government’s actions were ‘heavy-handed’, in her head, the premier was already designing a whitewash to protect those in government who are closest to her. Unfortunately for Mr. MacIsaac’s family and British Columbians, the premier succeeded.”

Horgan said that as a result, Ms. Kayfish is no closer to knowing who was responsible for the events that led her brother to take his own life.

The review does not get to the bottom of things. Former Public Service Agency head Lynda Tarras and Deputy Minister to the Premier John Dyble, who approved these wrongful dismissals, saddled Ms. McNeill with restrictive terms of reference and a short time frame to conduct her review.

This conflict of interest doomed the review from the very start. As a result, several fundamental questions remain:

  • Why the government announced that the RCMP would investigate the events that led to the wrongful dismissals when it appears that no such investigation ever occurred?
  • Why the government followed a communication strategy that included making a strategic leak to media and vilifying its own public servants?
  • The extent of the premier’s deputy John Dyble’s role in the dismissals
  • The extent of Government Communications head Athana Mentzelopoulos’ role in the communications strategy
  • The extent of new PSA head Elaine McKnight’srole in the dismissals

“Just this week, government was forced to release suppressed documents on research contracts and privacy protocols after the Privacy Commissioners’ office determined they were not part of any police investigation,” said Horgan.

“Today, Ms. Kayfish repeated that she would not stop her fight to get answers. She believes that a public inquiry is needed to get to the truth, and the New Democrats are calling on government to convene such an inquiry.”