BC Politics

After Wrongful Firing and Suicide, Roderick MacIsaac to Get His PhD

‘It’s been a little bit of closure,’ says his sister.

By Andrew MacLeod 7 Jun 2018 |

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

image atom
Roderick MacIsaac: Researcher who killed himself shortly after being wrongfully fired by B.C. government is to receive the PhD he was working to complete.

Six years after Roderick MacIsaac committed suicide following his wrongful firing by the B.C. government, the University of Victoria has awarded him a PhD.

“For me, it’s been a little bit of closure,” said MacIsaac’s sister Linda Kayfish on the phone from her home in Armstrong. “It’s been a long haul. What can one say.”

In a May 24 letter to Kayfish, associate registrar Laurie Barnas wrote, “The University of Victoria and the Faculty of Graduate Studies were very much saddened by the tragic loss of your brother, Roderick.”

She offered condolences on behalf of the university and said, “In recognition of his academic achievement, the university has awarded the enclosed degree to him posthumously.” The degree is a doctor of philosophy and his area of study was public administration.

Kayfish said she considered attending the convocation, but in the end decided not to make the trip to Vancouver Island. “I’m very happy we all achieved this for Rod,” she said. “Nothing we do will bring him back... It’s a nice gesture and everything, but it’s sad.”

MacIsaac was fired in 2012 from a co-op student position in the Ministry of Health. Government officials said at the time he and others were fired following an investigation into alleged data breaches, conflicts of interest and contracting.

They also said the matter had been turned over to the RCMP, though the police later said no evidence had ever been submitted that would justify them investigating. Some of the fired employees were rehired, and five wrongful dismissal and defamation lawsuits were settled out of court.

In 2017, a report from Ombudsperson Jay Chalke, “Misfire: The 2012 Ministry of Health Employment Terminations and Related Matters,” found the firings were “wrong and unjust” and that none of the employees deserved to be fired.

MacIsaac killed himself a few months after the firing but before government officials had admitted the firings were a mistake.

Rebecca Warburton, herself among those wrongfully fired from the health ministry, was MacIsaac’s advisor at UVic. She applied last fall to have his degree awarded.

“I’m really pleased about this, obviously,” Warburton said. “It’s kind of a gesture universities make when some unfortunate event prevents someone from completing their studies.”

The award is symbolic, but it’s clearly something MacIsaac was working towards and wanted, she said. “There’s a limit to the number of things you can do.”

Following a recommendation from Chalke, the government also committed to establishing a $500,000 endowment fund for a scholarship at UVic in MacIsaac’s name.

The provincial government hired a retired judge, Thomas Cromwell, to oversee the implementation of Chalke’s recommendations. That process is still under way and includes claims for financial losses from some 40 people affected by the firings.  [Tyee]

Read more: Education, BC Politics

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Get The Tyee in your inbox

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Do not:

  •  Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully, threaten, name-call or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, downvote, or flag suspect activity
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities


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


The Barometer

If and when the time comes to give up your license, how do you plan to get around?

Take this week's poll