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

Kimberley schools are open with social distancing in place

Some, but not all, Kimberley students return to school this week, as… Continue reading

Homes evacuated in Fairmont due to localized flooding from heavy rainfall

RDEK has issued a state of local emergency, RCMP going door to door in affected areas

Kimberley Arts Council keeping the arts alive during pandemic

Centre 64 is Kimberley remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but… Continue reading

The Weed Warrior: an invasive weed, new to the East Kootenay

Wild Parsnip is a plant that most of us don’t want to have a Close Encounter of any Kind with

Selkirk graduation in Kimberley will look very different this year

We have all had to change things in the face of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

UPDATE: B.C.’s Central Kootenay issues evacuation orders for hundreds of residents due to flooding

An evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

PHOTOS: Thousands gather at Vancouver Art Gallery to protest racism

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Number of students returning is a wild card as B.C. schools reopen Monday

A common model will see other teachers work four days a week in class then the fifth remotely,

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

Most Read