Opinion: “There’s been no effort to lock down the evidence!” Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson railed.
You would think a former cabinet minister under investigation by the cops for alleged criminal wrongdoing would be immediately relieved of her ministerial cellphone, laptop and other evidence-storing devices.
Instead, Jinny Sims was allowed to keep her devices all weekend, and she even had them with her when she emerged from the legislature after a raucous session Monday afternoon.
“They are with me,” the now-former NDP cabinet minister told me. “I’ll be handing them in.”
But handing them in to who? “I don’t know,” she told me.
Sims resigned as minister of community services on Friday, after Premier John Horgan’s office confirmed she was under investigation by the RCMP and an independent special prosecutor.
On Monday, the Opposition Liberals demanded to know what steps the NDP government had taken to preserve evidence in the mysterious affair.
“There’s been no effort to lock down the evidence!” Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson railed.
Asked specifically if anyone seized Sims’s laptop and cellphone, Attorney General David Eby said he didn’t know. But Sims had them all along. She told me she used her ministerial cellphone to check her calendar.
“Then I shut them all down,” she told me.
The premier’s office said late Monday that Sims’s log-in I.D. was disabled on Friday, locking her out of her laptop and her e-mail account. An official also said her iPad was “frozen” on Saturday, even though it was not taken away from her until Monday afternoon. She still had access to her cell phone, but couldn’t access her e-mail, the official said.
But why she still had access to the devices at all is curious indeed. After I questioned Sims in the legislature hallway about all this, a government official called me to say she had finally been relieved of the devices. That happened late Monday afternoon, about 72 hours after she resigned from cabinet. Her office key card was also disabled, her passwords were cancelled and her online access to cabinet documents was cut off.
Better late than never, I suppose!
What is the police investigation all about? Nobody will say, and even Sims said she’s in the dark.
“I have no clue,” she said.
But the Liberals want to know if it’s about a letter from a government whistleblower that emerged last spring. The letter, written by a former staffer in Sims’s office, said Sims wrote visa sponsorship letters for citizens of Pakistan, some who were later denied entry to Canada. The whistleblower’s letter suggested money had changed hands in the affair, though the Horgan government denied it after an internal probe.
Horgan and Eby both insisted they don’t know if the RCMP probe is about the Pakistani allegations or something else, though Horgan stood by Sims.
“It’s difficult to say whether this was fair or unfair,” Horgan said. “I have every confidence in Jinny. I’m confident she will be able to clear the air.”
I’m told the government, meanwhile, has safely stored Sims’s cellphone, laptop and iPad, just in case the cops want to take a look at them.
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