Yesterday, in estimates debate, Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman said the decision to shutdown the RCMP's provincially-funded integrated illegal gaming enforcement team was made by a "decent" majority of its five-member consultative board - three of whom were from government. But the minister wasn't able to say "who voted what way" because he wasn't at that meeting. This, despite the fact gaming policy and enforcement branch general manager Derek Sturko, a consultative board member, was at the minister's side during the debate - advising him on how to respond to Mr. Simpson's questions.
"I think it's safe to say that it wasn't unanimous, because one of the members of the board is a member of IIGET," Minister Coleman said, adding "the six or eight who were there at the time on the particular team" also likely opposed its shutdown. But that decision, according to the minister, had support "from the management side, from the senior management side, and from the people that give us advice on the operation of police services in B.C."
During the debate, Minister Coleman also responded to former integrated illegal gaming enforcement team commander Fred Pinnock's statement that there's a "ton of criminal activity" being conducted at the province's casinos - activity that BC Lotteries security and the government's gaming inspectors don't appear to be having much of an impact on.
Asked by Mr. Simpson whether he would "dismiss the concerns of Mr. Pinnock entirely" or look into the former unit commander's statements, the minister said, "Look, I'm not going to get into the discussion into the expertise or the reputation of an individual member of the police in British Columbia. The member opposite should know that that's not the only person that would give us information with regards to what goes on in their facilities, and we are always live to any issues in regards to that, whether by this individual or anybody else or any complaint or activity."
But, that being said, the minister added "anytime we can get information that helps us to do better, we will, because that's the only way you improve."
In an earlier scrum, Minister Coleman said he made the decision to shutdown the team. But he backed away from that statement yesterday telling Mr. Simpson, "probably I said that I'd take responsibility for the decision."