VICTORIA – With the Vancouver School Board by-election fast approaching, Education Minister Rob Fleming is refusing to give voters the full, uncut versions of reports into bullying and harassment that resulted in the firing of the Board.
“With some of these same people running again in the by-election, the extent of their involvement in the harassment and bullying of staff should be revealed to voters,” said BC Liberal education critic Mary Polak. “Without the full reports, voters could be unwittingly voting for candidates who were directly responsible for this shameful behaviour.”
Two reports, one conducted by an independent investigator and another by WorkSafeBC provide damning commentary even in their incomplete form.
A blunt assessment from the independent investigator reads: “…the conduct of the Board and individual Trustees contributed to the creation of a toxic work environment…” and “…there was credible evidence that members of the senior management team were subject to direct bullying and personal harassment…”
From the WorkSafeBC report: “When witnesses were asked why they did not report any behaviour or comment they believed was bullying and harassment, they all answered they were fretful for their jobs and future careers.”
When in opposition, the NDP regularly demanded the release of private information when it was in the public interest. In one such case, their demands resulted in a ruling by the privacy commissioner that compelled government to release otherwise private information because it was in the public interest.
“Now, with the investigations complete and a by-election looming, it is obviously in the public interest for voters to know which trustees were responsible,” said Polak. “The Minister should do the right thing and release the uncut versions of the reports and allow Vancouver voters to make an informed decision when they vote.”