Thursday, May 9, 2013

The $70,000 Question: Answered

On March 14, Premier Christy Clark tabled the in-house Dyble Report investigation into the Multicultural Outreach Strategy scandal. The report was not independent, but conducted by John Dyble, the Deputy Minister who serves at the pleasure of Clark.

The NDP revealed on Feb. 27 -- Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day -- that Clark's staff was doing party work on government time, spending the public dime, in a bid to win votes from ethnic groups in the 2013 election. That was against government rules.

Clark announced that the B.C. Liberal Party had paid $70,000 to the public purse, representing some of Quick Wins co-conspirator Brian Bonney's salary. Media outlets took the Premier for her word and published the $70,000 repayment as fact.

I wanted proof. So I filed a Freedom of Information request on March 22. The government told me that the deadline for disclosure would be May 2.

On May 2, I got a response from six ministries with a few pages of email that appears to be from citizens. But there is one important document missing.

I complained to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and senior staff at Information Access Operations -- the government's FOI clearinghouse. I even left phone and email messages on May 8 for Liberal president Sharon White, encouraging her to release a copy of the cheque.

Finally, a copy of the $70,000 cheque arrived on May 9. Albeit a calendar week late.

Two questions:

Why was it not provided to me on time?

Why didn't Premier Christy Clark -- who claims she champions open information and data -- just order her staff to publish a copy of the cheque when it was written on March 14?

See the request and the documents below.

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