B.C. Citizens’ Services Minister Jinny Sims, MLA for Surrey-Panorama. (Hansard TV)

B.C. information minister accused of secret MLA office dealings

Jinny Sims on defensive in legislature as letters released

A woman fired from the Surrey constituency office of B.C. Citizens’ Services Minister Jinny Sims has accused Sims of keeping questionable office matters out of reach of freedom of information laws.

Managing emails and other information according to those laws is a key part of her duties as minister, and Sims says she has complied with her own ministry’s rules.

Opposition MLAs questioned Sims for a second day Tuesday about a letter from the former constituency assistant’s lawyer, alleging she was fired in February after questioning the way information was exchanged through text messages and Sims’ personal WhatsApp account.

The former office staffer, Kate Gillie, said via her May 12 lawyer’s letter that Sims conducted ministerial business on personal accounts, and that Gillie was fired in February, six weeks into the job, after Sims warned her repeatedly that “I need loyalty.”

B.C. Liberal critics released a second letter Tuesday that Gillie sent to Premier John Horgan’s office in March. Among other things, it describes people coming into the office, offering to pay to have assistance from federal and B.C. officials with their immigration applications.

The letter describes “attempts to bring foreign nationals who are on a security list into the country, in exchange for money,” B.C. Liberal Mike de Jong told the legislature.

Responding in question period Tuesday, Sims called the accusations “a load of nonsense.” She told reporters later that she was aware of the letter to the premier’s office since some time in March, including its claims about a constituent offering money if Sims could help with a lawsuit he was facing from the City of Surrey.

“Not true,” Sims said. “Individuals come into my office and say ‘we’ve got something stuck in the city,’ and all we do is direct them to the right person in the city, and no money was collected.”

Sims noted that Gillie worked in her office for only six weeks, and she would not speak about the reasons for terminating her because it is a human resources matter.

READ MORE: Sims reviews FOI public release policy

READ MORE: ‘X’ gender identity allowed on B.C. drivers’ licences

Attorney General David Eby told the legislature Tuesday he received a copy of the lawyer’s letter at his Vancouver constituency office late Sunday, noting it was addressed first to B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy.

“This is the proper office for this concern to be brought to,” Eby said. “For your information, [freedom of information legislation] does not apply to MLAs or the office of a person who is an MLA, because MLA offices are not public bodies.”

De Jong reminded the legislature that it was exactly a year ago that Sims and Horgan admitted Sims had not been following proper procedures in the “duty to document” provisions of record-keeping for cabinet ministers.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Theatre renovations uncover the past

Historic Studio Stage Door gets extensive upgrading; renos at the ‘putting-back-together stage’

National energy conference wraps up in Cranbrook

Provincial, territorial and federal ministers discuss energy policies, challenges and opportunities

East Kootenay Xtreme gets ready for provincials

The team will be heading to the Senior B Ladies Provincial Championships from July 26-28

UPDATED: RCMP confirm one death in accident

Two motorcycles ran into the back of a vehicle towing a boat trailer on highway near Cranbrook

Feds announce battery technology challenge at energy conference

Provincial and territorial energy and mines ministers talk policy, challenges at annual meeting

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Most Read