Apr. 1, 2017

We need a clearer picture of investigation into city council


By Merv Unger

An uninformed public and media are dangerous. When people do not get basic facts they reach for conclusions. There have been a lot of conclusions by both the public and the media regarding the appointment of a special prosecutor to assist the RCMP in their investigation of Nanaimo City Council.

The announcement from the Criminal Justice Branch was unclear about exactly what is being investigated. For those who live in Nanaimo and are somewhat aware, that leaves a very wide field.

To date the RCMP have not provided information, and that's understandable because this is an ongoing investigation. However, when the special prosecutor was announced there was no information about what was being investigated, other than "city council" and a passing reference that one councillor had been detained and released on certain conditions.

Through digging around I uncovered a number of the facts, but respecting what the police sitll have to do, I won't share them. Not knowing what is being investigated I don't want to hinder the investigation.

I had calls from out-of-town media seeking clarification. That was due in large part to the fact that all they were aware of was that there is an outstanding council complaint against Mayor Bill McKay that has not been resolved. Some of those assumptions and reports led to rumours that the mayor was the target of the investigation and had been arrested, which of course was false. It resulted in quick retractions and apologies from both the CBC and CTV.

Lack of information is like a vaccuum, it fills itself with whatever is available. With all due respect, it would be very helpful at this point for the RCMP or special prosecutor to provide the basic facts without compromising any possible evidentiary aspects that are being investigated.

Nanaimo is still small town, and that means rumours spread like viruses. The sooner they are stamped out, the better.