We've got our eye on you

24 hours has launched a new weekly feature section to highlight Public Eye's muckraking work. In today's edition, we reveal children and family development deputy minister Lesley du Toit's attempt to cut off the flow of leaks from her department. And we report on the expanding number of high-paid, senior bureaucrats at the ministry of health. As always, feedback and tips for future investigations are appreciated.

14 Comments

So let me get this straight - she is a public servant so she works for and is paid by the people of BC - so why is she hiding her activities from us?

Yes, I know it's a rhetorical question.

How pathetic, how sad, how predictable - another great hire by the Premier.

du Tuoit is not hiding HER activities from the tax payers in that she is traveling across the province holding meetings with communities about her vision for transformation.

Mr. Mentality and Ms.Steele

Maybe it's me that should be cast in the Costa-Gravas film, but i'm having trouble defending in my mind the actions of the people who have been providing this particular line of information.

I like and truly respect Sean and the work he does and a lot of stuff people need to know and wouldn't know through the MSM is reguarly published on these pages ... but let's step back for a minute.

Those who flipped these e-mails to people other than their intended recipients took an oath when they joined the public service that they would not do such a thing without authorization. It's a legally-enforceable oath, the compliance with which is an ongoing condition of their employment.

I generally think oaths should be kept and the law upheld, however, I accept that exceptional circumstances arise when people are forced to consider whether they have a greater responsibiity than strict adherence to the law - recall the two doctors working with Health Canada who blew the whistle on that department's cozy relationship with certain pharmaceutical manufacturers and its apparent abdication of its duty to put the safety of Canadian's first.

This was whistleblowing - something those doctors did publicly and openly - and put their professional reputations at stake as they were fired and then publicly vilified by the government.

What have we learned from the (apparently)MCFD staff who have decided to break their own oaths and take the law in their own hands, at absolutely no risk to themselves? That the DM said "the government won't give us the money to do the job, so we're going to cut the number of home visits and apprehensions despite the potential for risk to kids"?? Not quite anything as important or even in the same ballpark, I would argue.

The deputy and cabinet may be to blame for a dismal morale in the ministry. But people who will break their own oaths in order to let the world know such critical information as their DM may be a ditherer, or plans to have a COO, or is taking action to stop further leaks, are not only not blameless, they are not, to my mind, serving either the public service or the public itself.

The deputy is responsible to the public for the outcomes of her work on the ground, in the same way were are all responsible for our conduct, for not harming others or, say, engaging in criminal activty.

For me, to say that the public interest is advanced by making her responsibe for every word she commits to paper and declaring every word to be the taxpayer's property (and saying it's okay for people who've sworn otherwise to treat her words that way) is akin to saying that society would be better served if the state had access to surveillance of every home, the better to ensure that not a single unlawful act could go undetected.

You're right, Heaney. I believe du Toit is responsible for the present lack of trust and respect which, very clearly, staff at mcfd staff are experiencing.

The Premier is also responsible, having hired her into this position rather than as a Consultant or Advisor on Transformation issues. MCFD needs a Deputy Minister who can manage MCFD. Unfortunately, she doesn't appear to have experience that would facilitate this responsibility.

If Ms du Toit doesn't quit, the solution is to hire a co-Deputy Minister to manage MCFD so that mutual trust can be restored and the mandate of MCFD accomplished. Ms du Toit, meanwhile, can continue to travel the province selling her "Vision" for Transformation.

Heaney:

I agree with you that it is inappropriate for civil servants to "leak" documents to the press or anyone else for that matter. Indeed, if one believes that one cannot work anymore for an organization because that organization is fundamentally corrupt, then the appropriate action would be to leave the organization and then "go public" with your concerns.

It is also the case, however, that when working for government one should also be aware of the dictum that you should never write anything to anybody that you don't feel comfortable seeing in the press because after all your ultimate "touchstone" when working as a public servant is to serve the public good.

Ms. du Toit's latest directive - if she actually knew what her job was - goes against that principle - and as such, and like Mr. Dobell's gaft - I wonder what the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Commissioner would think!!!

As to the Premier's involvement - let us also not forget that a "fish rots from it's head".

With a government as secretive and misleading as the Gordon Campbell Liberals, I'd say we need every scrap of information we can get our hands on to deal with the constant flow of evasions, and coverups this bunch seems to think of as business as usual. What about THEIR oaths? Are they not supposed to act in the best interests of British Columbians? I'd suggest that the state is NOT serving society, they're serving themselves.

Ditto, relayer.MCFD promotes policies and services that serve systems and bureaucrats.That is why they are paranoid and conducting business behind closed doors.Social workers are the enemy as well and are often the last to know, or would not know if it was not for leaks or the Sean Holmans.There is little loyalty to social workers as well so Ms.Du toit will not receive loyalty back.No surprise really.Batten down the hatches as more changes are coming in the new "transformation".Changes without consultation and top down. Social workers , when they are not dissociating and overwhelmed, do speak up for the clients.This is strictly verboten.

Let's get real Heaney. If we are going to get on a high horse about oaths of office and ethics, let's start at the top.

I think we can all list dozens of situations where politicians, who must also take oaths of confidentiality etc., etc., have been anything but true to the letter or even the spirit of the law.

Broken promises, outed individuals and outright lies seem to be ok as long as it's an elected person shovelling the stuff, but when a senior official is in deep trouble with her own troops because of her own decisions, then it's immoral for the little guy to leak.

Give me a break.

Yes, it's bad when public servants open the flood gates, but then, it's my understanding (and I'm not a politician or a public servant), that when people get frustrated and face brick walls ingenuity often presents options that might otherwise be overlooked.

Frankly, I'm still waiting for the names of the people who leaked the damaging information about the police raid on former premier Glen Clark's home.

I'm sure you remember that nasty little episode where BCTV beat the search warrent bearers to Clarks door. Of course it snowballed from there into a crucifixion of sorts effectively killing a political career before the courts could look at the evidence and toss it all out the door with a not guilty finding.

So, yes, it's terrible when leaks happen, but some happen out of desperation while others are mean spirited dirty political moves involving players who have more than just an internal process to be ticked off about.

'when a senior official is in deep trouble with her own troops because of her own decisions, then it's immoral for the little guy to leak.'

The leaks are likely a plea, by individuals committed to the work of MCFD, who want to replace du Toit with a Leader who knows that to get things done requires a group of people with whom she has established mutual trust, respect and loyalty. It's not enough to talk the talk as a Deputy Minister. In my opinion, given her experience with Transformation initiatives, she would be much better used as a Consultant to a Transformation Team led by an experienced Deputy Minister.

Are you listening Premier Campbell? If not, you are risking another failure at MCFD.

You are right on experienced.

Some of us have been waiting 8 months to hear whether we'll even be *interviewed* for a position. So much for respec!

I think that a DM's instructions to staff to intentionally destroy documents to prevent them from obtained by the public (via a leak or even an FOI act request) is of public interest and I have no problem with the email being leaked.

A policy of destroying every copy of a document to avoid disclosing it or acknowledging it under FOI sounds unlawful.

A policy of destroying all but 2 or 3 copies of a document considered at a deputy's meeting sounds like good management at some points in the deliberation and planning processes - and bad management at other points

And it sounds perfectly legal - the public has a statutory right to know of the document's existence. How much of it the public will read is a matter of the Act and Commissioner precedents in BC and other provinces.

The system seems built such that it can only be regularly defeated by liars and - I don't agree with bleedingheart - i don't think our system is rife with liars or that we should throw our hands up and accept that or use it to justify other deceit.

I do agree with bleedingheart - I'd give my eye teeth to know who all put the case together against Clark and who knew and talked about it prior to it being public.

I think the fact that you have someone at MCFD who spends more time flipping internal emails to Sean Holeman instead of trying to honor the commitment they made to serve those most in need speaks volumes why this ministry is so screwed up.

Kevin Larsen: how long does it take to flip an email to Sean? You must know since you assume something about time in your accusation.

You also assert that "this ministry is so screwed up". It's not the people who do the work on the ground who make it so and to suggest otherwise is irresponsible, mean spirited and agenda driven.

Most of us working in this ministry honour our commitments every hour of every day. Our commitment is to the children, youth and families of this province, not to the Premier's appointees. We accomplish our commitments despite them and their grand schemes.

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