Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Drug companies not involved in ministry purge, says minister

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said there's little she can say in response to explosive claims filed in British Columbia's Supreme Court yesterday alleging the government attacked drug researchers to protect the profits of BC Liberal Party donors.

"I'm really, really limited in what I can say," said MacDiarmid. "What I can say is I have never as the minister been aware that any pharmaceutical companies were involved in this in any way."

The province terminated its contract with researcher Bill Warburton last July as part of an investigation that led to the firing of seven ministry employees.

In his May 6 notice of claim, Warburton alleged that the government fired the researchers because they were doing work that could reduce the profits of drug companies that donate to the BC Liberal Party.

"The Province's acts against Dr. Warburton are part of a bad faith program by the Defendants to end the investigation of harmful effects of drugs which risk leading to diminishing payments to their political contributors," it said.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and the province has not yet filed a statement of defence.

MacDiarmid said she has been privy to more information from the investigation that can't be made public. She was briefed on the investigation on her first day as minister last September, and in January gave a statement indicating the seriousness of the issue, she said.

"Of course, I continue to be really concerned about this," MacDiarmid said.

The province has strong policies and rules about when and how data can be used, she said. When data is meant to be stripped of personal identifiers, it should be, she said. All of the people who the government fired have recieved written information giving them reasons for their terminations, she said.

There have been five wrongful dismissal and defamation suits filed against the province as a result of the investigation, two people are in a grievance process through their union and one of the people who was fired was found dead in January.

MacDiarmid said "there's tremendous pressure on the PharmaCare budget" and the government recognizes the need to make sure dollars are spent wisely.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus