Former Nisga’a Lisims Government internet technology manager Andre Cardinal. (Facebook photo)

Former Nisga’a Lisims Government internet technology manager Andre Cardinal. (Facebook photo)

Corruption allegations against Nisga’a Lisms Government without merit: report

Former employee behind explosive email says investigation committee was biased

A Nisga’a Lisims Government (NLG) employee’s searing allegations against his employer and elected representatives of the Nisga’a Nation last spring were made without merit, according to a NLG statement announcing the findings of an independent investigation.

In May last year Andre Cardinal, the NLG’s information technology manager, sent photographed financial documents and an eight-page email to 150 people and organizations with ties to the nation. The email contained an array of accusations, including financial misconduct, corruption and nepotism against the NLG executive and members of the elected council both past and present.

A special NLG investigation committee hired Vancouver employment lawyer and consultant Earl Phillips to conduct his own independent investigation, and on March 31 the NLG announced in a news release Phillips had concluded the former IT manager “relied on rumour and innuendo to make reckless inferences and assumptions.”

“This entire incident was personally hurtful to many people and caused considerable distress and strain on NLG, elected representatives, officers, employees, and some of our consultants, and indeed their families,” said Juanita Parnell, elected urban representative and chair of the special committee overseeing the investigation. “We are pleased that this thorough and independent investigation has determined that the many allegations made had no basis in fact.”

READ MORE: Nisga’a to investigate accusations of rogue employee

However in the same release Parnell wrote some of the reports findings raised concerns about certain administrative procedures, which the executive will correct by adopting the investigator’s recommendations.

Parnell did not mention which procedures were being addressed. However in an emailed response to Black Press the NLG stated the general theme of the recommendations was to take steps that increase accountability and transparency.

“We are seeing such things as strengthening whistleblower protection and establishing privacy protection,” the email reads. “There is a general sense that [the report] is a serious response to a serious issue.”

Details of Cardinal’s original allegations are still unclear.

The investigator’s full report was not released to the general public. An executive summary is available to Nisga’a members, but the NLG said they’ve only received a handful of requests. They attribute the low number to the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelming daily life.

In a Facebook post last year Cardinal wrote the lack of transparency and accountability with the NLG prevented Nisga’a members from thriving economically, sparking small protests among Nisga’a members at the NLG offices. The goal of the mass-email was to educate members on the government power structure and how it can be co-oped, blocking common citizens from participating fully in their young democracy.

The NLG eventually fired Cardinal and obtained an injunction preventing him from distributing further information. The government also asked the BC Supreme Court to seal an affidavit in which the email could be read by the public.

READ MORE: Protesters demand transparency from Nisga’a government

Responding to the report’s findings Cardinal called the investigation a “whitewash,” stating in an email the father of the principal person he accused of corruption was chosen to sit on the investigation committee.

“As well, I was told that the investigator they hired decided to go with the ‘Andre is mentally ill theme.’ Funny, I don’t remember being tested recently by a mental health professional,” He wrote in an email to Black Press.

NLG has now filed a Notice of Civil Claim against Cardinal with the B.C. Supreme Court.

Cardinal explained he’s being sued for breaching last year’s settlement agreement by posting documents recently to Facebook, which he says backed up his original allegations.

“I’m not responding [to the civil claim] as there really isn’t anything they can take from me as I’m not a rich person. I’m in the acceptance phase of this thing now,” he wrote.

“The only person who’s life is destroyed is me. No one else lost their jobs: hurt feelings aren’t actionable.”

The NLG did not confirm if a family member of one of the people accused by Cardinal was appointed to the committee, but refuted the idea there was any bias, stating the committee’s only involvement was to find an independent investigator.

“After that was done the committee had no role in the investigator’s work or conclusions,” reads the email from NLG.

“It was a thorough and independent investigation. Nothing was held back. We have had a strong report result and we are now working on its implementation.”

Report’s key findings provided by NLG

1) “Almost all of the Allegations are an unreliable combination of fact assumption, inference and rumour” which are “mistaken beliefs” of which the Investigator sought to limit both “spread and acceptance.”

2) While mistaken, many of the Allegations serve to highlight concerns that the Independent Investigator addressed in his recommendations. These recommendations have been adopted by the Executive.

3) Problems with NEST reporting stem “largely” from different accounting standards. NLG never faced a potential liability for any amount.

4) The fisheries payment referenced in the email was exactly the same as made to other fishermen, just not through Canfisco. The payment was “documented in NLG’s books” and is “the same amount available to other fishermen.”

5) Cardinal, the former information technology manager “did not act in good faith [or] for legitimate purposes”, made reckless inferences and assumptions, and relied on rumour and innuendo.

6) There was collusion only to the extent that the former information technology manager was “implicitly encouraged” to express allegations that were based on inaccurate, incomplete or unreliable evidence. There was no collusion in the personal insults, innuendo or scurrilous rumours contained in the email.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Corruption allegations against Nisga’a Lisms Government without merit: report

Just Posted

The two suspects arrested south of 150 Mile House Tuesday, March 2, following a high-speed chase with the RCMP have been charged. (Will Roberts photo)
High-speed chase suspects charged, remain in custody after arrest south of Williams Lake

John Craig and Maggie M. Higgott appeared in Williams Lake Provincial Court March 4

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to Stoney and Minnie lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

Most Read