Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Who sent Bob Virk on a year's paid vacation?

B.C. Opposition Leader asks Minister of Transportation this question, as recorded in Hansard 26 April 2004, four months after police raided aides' offices in the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance:

J. MacPhail: Okay, but what I'm trying to figure out here is how the government came to the conclusion that this was a personnel matter ... I could save the Premier a lot of time if the minister could explain to me how this is a personnel matter, because then I'll at least know that the government has done some sort of analysis of this and that that's what the Premier will be using as well. It's just completely inappropriate for this minister to upload to the Premier and perhaps at the same time mislead me by saying that I can get some answers there. That's why I'm trying to figure out what the government's rationale is.

Either Martyn Brown or the head of the Public Service Agency or the minister's own personnel director or industrial relations director: who gave the minister advice that this was a personnel matter? The minister is using that as a shield because it has legal consequences, legal implications to it. There must have been some advice.

Hon. K. Falcon: I've answered this question repeatedly. As I told the member many times before, this is something she can extensively question, if she feels it's appropriate, at the Premier's estimates. Bob Virk is a staff member. Clearly, there's a personnel aspect related to that. She'll have every opportunity to engender herself in the questioning through the Premier's estimates.

J. MacPhail: Let me put this to the minister. There's no personnel matter here. Mr. Virk is on paid vacation at the taxpayers' expense. That's what he is. There's not one iota of personnel matters or legal matters involved here, because the minister can't put it on record. He's on paid vacation leave. That's what he's doing, and the public has every right to know why he gets a vacation at the taxpayers' expense. He isn't being disciplined. "He is innocent in the eyes of everyone," says the Minister of Transportation.

There is no grievance filed. There's no disciplinary report on Mr. Virk's file. This isn't a personnel matter; this is a shameful giveaway to Mr. Virk of thousands of dollars every month for him to sit God knows where. He doesn't even have to report in. He's probably out of the province on vacation. It's shameful that the minister is trying to hide behind this being a personnel matter. There's not one legal scintilla of reason why this minister can claim this as a personnel matter, yet he refuses to answer questions.

You know, this government refusing to answer questions about Bob Virk and Dave Basi is embarrassing -- absolutely embarrassing. It just kind of indicates that they have something to hide. Who determines what Mr. Virk's vacation is? ... Is Mr. Virk collecting vacation credits while he's suspended with pay? These are all absolutely legitimate questions. They're not personnel questions unless the minister can stand up and say: "The reason why this is a personnel issue is because there's some area of disagreement between the ministry and Mr. Virk and his treatment." The minister cannot demonstrate that at all.

Hon. K. Falcon: I actually have no idea. I would have to find that out for the member, or perhaps more appropriately, when she has the opportunity in the estimates of the Premier's office, she could probably ask them.

J. MacPhail: Okay. I'm going to ask the Premier about the vacation pay being built up by Bob Virk. I can hardly wait. I can hardly wait to get into the Premier's estimates. Mr. Chair, let's move on. I'll be preparing all of these questions to the Premier ...

"She'll have every opportunity to engender herself in the questioning through the Premier's estimates."

Is the man who gives raptor birds a bad name suggesting that Joy is getting a sex change. I guess I'll have to look up engender (if it is in the dictionary at all).

Thanks for digging up all this old hansard stuff, I'm not contributing much these days - spending time outside and on other things too much - not that that's a bad thing, just wish I had more time and energy. Other than the raid itself, the differential treatment early on, one guy fired, one guy on paid vacation indicated the Gordo was acting on information that we can still only guess at, and made me curious.
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