Timing of New BCLC Audit Shows it is another Liberal Whitewash
Today’s announcement by Premier Gordon Campbell’s hand-picked B.C. Lotteries Corporation (BCLC) interim CEO Dana Hayden is more about damage control and BCLC’s profits than actually getting to the bottom of B.C.’s retail lottery scandal, said Harry Lali, NDP’s new Critic for B.C. Lotteries.
Lali was referring to a narrowly-focused internal review made public by Hayden, which pre-empts a comprehensive, independent audit into BCLC and the Campbell government's gaming enforcement branch scheduled to be released in late October. The audit also comes out on a day that the BCLC quietly released details of the severance package payout to the fired BCLC CEO Vic Poleschuk.
"The severance package payout to former CEO Vic Poleschuk proves that Poleschuk was the government's fall guy for the lottery scandal and subsequent cover-up," said Lali, the MLA for Yale - Lillooet. "Since taking office in 2001, the Campbell Liberals have perfected the art of deception and have a pattern of covering up their mistakes instead of actually solving the problem."
When Ombudsman Kim Carter issued her damning report on lottery retailing on May 29, she specifically stated that the responsibility for oversight of BCLC rests with the minister. Yet Solicitor-General Les refused to take responsibility for the lottery fiasco, instead letting the B.C. Liberal-appointed Lottery Corporation board fire CEO Vic Poleschuk later that week.
"Ms. Hayden, the Premier’s own former Deputy Minister, was sent in to replace Poleschuk as the Premier's fixer on this file," said Lali. "Today's audit release is yet another PR exercise designed to deceive the public and protect BCLC's public image and bottom line. The truth remains that after breaking their 2001 promise not to expand gaming, the Campbell government has turned BCLC into a cash cow while sacrificing oversight."
"Solicitor-General Les has consistently failed to show leadership on this file. Last December, he emphatically claimed that the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch had found nothing wrong with lottery retailing in B.C., but he was later forced by the Ombudsman’s report to admit that there were serious deficiencies. Now after ordering a comprehensive independent audit to be delivered to him in October, Les has been upstaged by an internal BCLC audit that attempts yet another PR whitewash.
"Clearly, John Les no longer has the moral authority to remain the minister in charge of B.C. Lotteries – and it is time for Premier Campbell to fire the Solicitor-General," continued Lali.
Lali also stated that the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, which is the oversight body responsible for keeping BC Lotteries on the ‘straight and narrow,’ should not be under the purview of the same minister who is also responsible for BCLC and revenue generation. "Clearly, there is a conflict of competing interests to have both functions under one Minister. The Premier must immediately shift the oversight function to another ministry," said Lali.
Lali said that today’s review only looks at 190 files on prizes over $10,000 and fails to answer the bigger questions surrounding B.C. Lotteries. "Once again another internal review fails to address the fundamental concerns about the mismanagement and oversight of B.C. Lotteries by the Campbell Liberals - and provides no basis to reassure British Columbians about the lottery system in this province," said Lali.