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

Abbotsford demonstration planned for Friday

Organizers say they don’t intend to block rail or road traffic downtown

Victoria, Abbotsford recorded biggest jumps in rent prices nationwide: report

Toronto and Vancouver had priciest rentals in Canada

VIDEO: Abbotsford stabbing sends one to hospital

One person received non-life threatening injuries after stabbing early Sunday morning

PHOTOS: Family Day at the Mission Leisure Centre

Families participating in events including floor hockey, bouncy castle, skating, swimming and more

VIDEO: Bear Hide Campaign March goes through downtown Mission

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men stand up against violence towards women and children

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Most Read