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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BUSINESS BUZZ: Baldface Lodge continues work on new headquarters

Our columnist also reports on a new tourism association and a Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism contest

VIDEO: Nelson grandmothers on virtual walk across South Africa

Grans to Grans are raising money for African grandmothers

Nelson police: cougar seen in Nelson

The animal was last spotted Tuesday evening on Anderson Street

First Energy Metals set to start gold exploration work in the West Kootenay

The work will be conducted at two of its sites near Nakusp and Nelson

Nelson skateboarders charged with assaulting Trail police officer

Incident happened at the skate park in Trail

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Most Read