The Boessenkool affair: why it matters

Why all the fuss about Boessenkool?

Because it matters.

Last September, after a Liberal fundraiser, Ken Boessenkool – the Chief of Staff to the Premier – groped an assistant to a cabinet minister.  A month or so later Boessenkool resigned.

That much we can agree upon.  The rest is shady.

According to Premier Clark, Lynda Tarras – the CEO of the BC Public Service Agency – conducted a two week investigation into the allegations, finding Boessenkool in the wrong.  Clark then fired Boessenkool.

Case closed, or not.

Both Bob Mackin and Jonathan Fowlie used FOI to obtain records of the investigation.  Turns out there aren’t any.  The entire investigation was conducted orally.  “Consistent with PSA policies,” Finance ministry staff told the Sun with perhaps some bending of the truth.

Mackin went a little further and sought Boessenkool’s diary for the period.  Turns out he didn’t even meet with Tarras, which went unexplained by the government.

There are two possible explanations for all of this.  The first is the Dobell doctrine.

Bob MacKin and my friend over at the Pacific Gazetteer have argued persuasively for this version of events.  The Doctine basically states that you write down nothing you don’t wish to see in print.  No notes, diary entries, memos, reports, emails.  Nothing.  You scrub it all clean – who cares about rules and procedures.

Following the Doctrine, the Boessenkool inquiry was conducted orally with no trace to be seen by inquiring minds.

That’s one theory.  I don’t buy it.  Here’s mine:  There was no inquiry.

Here’s what I think happened.  Boessenkool groped the woman.  A complaint was made and that’s all that happened until a reporter for Global News got wind of the story and called the Premier’s office about it.

The Premier’s office went into damage control.  They knew they couldn’t contain the story.  Too many reporters knew about the assault.

So they dumped Boessenkool.  But they needed a story to deal with the month that passed between the complaint and the firing.  Hence the “investigation.”

Of course there are no records.  What records would there be of an investigation that never took place.

One of these two stories is the truth about the Boessenkool firing.  Both are bad.

One says the Premier and her staff are will hide the truth when it doesn’t serve their purpose.  The other says the Premier will lie when that will serve her purpose.

Both explanations say the Premier and her staff can’t be trusted to do the public’s business openly and honestly.

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6 Responses to The Boessenkool affair: why it matters

  1. Ara Hepburn says:

    Thank you for the time and effort you put into your writings. This article presents one of the things we’d been thinking.
    Also wonder if Boessenkool is really off the payroll or is the phone/skype lines burning?
    We wish there was some way to charge Clark and co-horts with treason against the people of BC. The list of charges would be endless.

  2. Merv Adey says:

    Good analysis Ian..I had mulled both versions in my mind without coming to a conclusion about which was true. No docs or no investigation at all? Truth is, we can’t prove it either way…the Premier doesn’t care to prove or disprove either version…and that’s a problem.

  3. RossK says:

    Not that I am wedded to the Double-D hypothesis or anything…But I will remind Ian and his readers that the Dean also kinda/sorta tongue-in-twit invoked the doctrine as well….

    And, of course, there is always the developing Quad-Dee hypothesis to consider (a.k.a. ‘The Dobell Doctrine Double-Down!’)…More on that one later.

  4. Stevie Ray says:

    In my position, it was stressed to me that leadership is to be done by example. That I could not ask anyone to do something or behave a certain way if I did not demonstrate it myself. I believe this is ethical. I also believe that the example set does set the tone for the workplace. Just like at home I have to demonstrate the ethics and morals that I want my children to have. It is pretty basic stuff. Obviously people in positions of power in Victoria do not feel that burden of leadership. It would seem their moral compass is set on themselves, what they want, and without regard for anyone else. It demonstrates to me that they are not leaders at all, and should be tossed out of whatever leadership position they hold as they obviously are unqualified for the position.

  5. Don F. says:

    The fact that Mr. Boesenkools shedule did not include any communication with Tarras would indicate just that. In order to investigate requires that. Ms. Clark lied obviously that it took place. Ms. Tarras lied also that it took place. What other conclusions would seem logical? If Jahal hadn’t requested answers all would be left in the dark but dammit he did.
    Heads should roll over this because in it’s most basic it had to have been presented to the puplic though lies.
    This is not science needing proof. Their lies are quite staight forward.
    Heads shou

  6. dm5158 says:

    The lack of a paper trail is either intentional or no investigation occured. In Labour Law, the balance of probabilities is the test of innocence or guilt. The fact that there is no paper trail and no evidence of an investigation, then based on the balance of probabilities, both statements are true. Either way the actions of Clarke and Tarras are unethical to say the least, Clarke and Tarras need to go. Clarke knew about the innappropriate conduct but kept Bosnekool on. Really!? What does that action say to the victim and the people of the province? Furthermore, Clarke can try and blame Tarras but a women in Clarkes posiion knows very well the potential risk of a human rights case and is fully aware of the need to investigate serious misconduct and the protocals in place to follow when a complaint is made. Clarkes conduct is as disgraceful as Bosnekools. As for Tarras, who is the head of the PSA, thats provides human resourse services to ninistries, the balance of probability is that she was aware of the situation. Come one, Clarke wouldn’t put Tarras’name out to the press without some discussion. It was Tarras’ duty to ensure due dilligence for an investagation to occure. These two women had a higher level of responsility to esure the dignity of the victim was maintained and that a fulsome investigation took place. The lack of documentation shows that none of this was done and these two should not be trusted.

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