In a press release published January 31, Strathcona Regional District said that "This petition was recently brought to the attention of the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) Board." I would like to examine that statement a little more closely. I believe that while it may be technically true, it is intentionally misleading.
The petition was filed January 2, amended January 3 to add more names.
The Mirror didn't break the story until January 7th.
SRD's hired investigator (Craig Peterson, CSRMC) first came to the island January 8th.
The first SRD Board meeting in January was the 9th.
Most of us on Cortes are well aware that Craig Peterson spoke with at least 20 Cortes Islanders in the course of his investigations. I myself was one of his first interviewees. He made no secret of who he was, who hired him, or why he was here -- heck, he gave us all his business card. He spent plenty of time with each person, and asked me and other people to pass his contact info on to yet more islanders. He must have spent at least 2 weeks commuting to Cortes and conducting interviews -- and then many weary hours condensing all those notes and audio logs into a report; this adds up to quite a lot of hours and travel time. This is not a small expense, this is a big-ticket contract. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that SRD spent a bundle on this.
Am I the only person who finds it a little hard to believe that SRD Board managed to meet -- outside their regular meeting date and with no record -- discuss the matter, select a consultant, approve a significant expense, and sign a contract... all in less than one week from the time the petition was filed? That would indeed be "recent". It would also be miraculous.
If SRD moves at a normal bureaucratic pace, it would have taken at absolute minimum a couple of weeks -- more like three -- to make a decision, go out for bid, select a consultant, authorise expense, sign a contract, and get their guy on site. Subtract the holidays, and it looks to me like SRD knew all about this petition (or at least its content), at the very latest sometime in mid December -- more like early December -- well before it ever became public knowledge via BC government website info about litigations. Do we really call that "recently"?
They may be technically telling the truth, in that the attack on R/D Anderson formatted and filed as a legal petition is of recent date, but their knowledge of the allegations it contains has got to pre-date that by some considerable period. This impression is only strengthened when I consider that R/D Anderson sought legal counsel for the first time back in late October or early November, 2018.
This would suggest that the petitioners -- or some affiliated person or persons?? -- did the "bringing to the attention" of SRD, since no one else would have known about it prior to filing on Jan 2/3. So how "recently" did this all happen? How long has SRD known about these foolish and malicious allegations, without having the courtesy to inform the 13 people and 8 organisations who are maligned (though alas not actionably) along with R/D Anderson? Why did SRD sit on it, keep it a secret?
All this is speculation of course, because SRD's entire process in this matter is concealed behind the convenient "in camera" veil which not only effectively gags R/D Anderson, but prevents her constituents from finding out what the heck is going on and how long it's been going on. My personal feeling, however, is that in this press release the word "recently" is being used with intent to mislead. I want SRD to lift that in camera veil of secrecy, and make the entire process public information.
But, you may ask, would this exposure really be fair to R/D Anderson, the subject of the investigation? I have checked with R/D Anderson and she has no objection to full disclosure; she would welcome it. To my great journalistic frustration, she is not allowed to tell me why she would welcome it; that would mean discussing the content of in camera meetings, and this she flatly refuses to do. But in my conversation with her I got the impression that she has nothing to hide; the in camera secrecy is not protecting her. Whom, then, is it protecting?
There must be more to this SRD investigation story, it can hardly have started from scratch on Jan 2. Whatever came beforehand is being hidden from us. Why?
If you would like to communicate with SRD about these issues and questions, the address to write to is...
The most effective form of communication with a body such as SRD, in terms of formal process, is to ask questions. I'm not going to tell anyone what they should say; express what you need to express. But if you would like to maximise the usefulness of your letter for future process, then requesting clarification or explanation of things that bother you is the most effective format. The letters by Sprungman and the Le Cheminants (in the corrdespondence file are excellent examples of how to word a courteous but specific letter of inquiry.
If you would like your letter to SRD to become part of this archive (the page you're now reading, that is), send a copy to De Clarke at the address below.
This site may not be updated on a regular schedule, so please be patient if your letter does not appear immediately.