You had to know this would be coming. One week ago, City Scope documented a totally unsubstantiated claim by Ontario health minister Deb Matthews, tossed out at last Saturday’s liberal nomination meeting where Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands was acclaimed, that PC leader Tim Hudak is running pharmacists as candidates across the province.
An obvious jab at St. Thomas pharmacist Jeff Yurek, sporting the Tory banner in Elgin-Middlesex-London for the fall provincial vote. And a claim Matthews is unlikely to repeat beyond a room full of her supporters.
In a letter to the T-J, (read full letter here ) Yurek writes, “While I am flattered Ms. Matthews would think that I was hand selected by the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, Tim Hudak, her statement is false.
“Through a democratic process, I was elected from a field of five candidates by members of the Elgin-Middlesex-London riding association.
“Mr. Hudak played no role in the nomination process. I was elected by the party membership because of their confidence in my experience and abilities.”
We won’t put words in Yurek’s mouth, but is he contrasting the PC process with the lack of viable candidates on the Liberal side of the fence which resulted in the acclamation of Baldwin-Sands?
OUT OF CONTROL
In an effort to shed light on the termination of a health inspector at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health, this corner placed several calls to the office of CEO Cynthia St. John.
Seems she’s on holiday, although her voice mail alludes to meetings in London, so we were the recipient of a phone call from acting medical officer of health, Dr. Frank Warsh.
To quickly get up to speed, after an internal investigation by the health unit, the matter of the wayward health inspector has been turned over to city police, on the advice of legal counsel.
So, we asked Dr. Warsh to elaborate on which specific element of the internal report raised the red flag?
“The details of the investigation, including what we found out, we can’t comment on now. That would be construed as evidence.”
As to the internal investigation, who was involved in determining what exactly led up to the dismissal, with cause, of the inspector?
“Basically all of the staff was involved,” acknowledged Warsh. “The management team, Cynthia St. John herself, the inspectors in that department were involved.”
While the T-J has reported the employee in question was a male inspector, we are now led to believe it was a female inspector who was let go, although Warsh would not confirm or deny.
“We’re talking about a small team (eight inspectors) so we’re actually not identifying the gender.”
However, the initial media release did refer to a male inspector.
This corner also understands the time frame involved could have been as long as two years and this was not an isolated incident.
“There was a substantiative amount of evidence or information that was gathered,” Warsh advised. “What constitutes evidence, police and legal counsel will be the ones to make that determination.”
As to the health inspector’s immediate supervisor and what disciplinary action, if any, they might face, Warsh noted, “it would have been the director of health protection . . . at this point I can’t really comment on that (possible discipline) or even if there has been a determination on that. They are confidential personnel matters.”
We’ll say it again, any investigation of the health unit should not be limited to this lone health inspector.
SCHOOL FOR THOUGHT
The city’s new CAO, Wendell Graves, called over late Friday to announce the city has formerly taken possession of Wellington Street Public School.
The deal has been in the works for some time, as the property (purchased for $410,000) will prove valuable for overflow parking when the new consolidated courthouse opens a few blocks to the west.
As for the heritage building which first welcomed students in 1898, a committee has been struck consisting of Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman, Ald. Tom Johnston and Ald. Mark Cosens, to entertain possibilities.
Graves, who you can bet will offer sage advice to the committee, told City Scope they will certainly seek public input to move forward with a heritage project far more likely to bear fruit than the Michigan Central Railway bridge undertaking.
Unique offices, restaurant/cafe, gallery, artistic workshops — the school is a blank canvas with exciting possibilities, minus the potential liability issues presented by conversion of the railway trestle over Sunset Drive into a walking trail.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We’ve obviously taken the matter as seriously as possible and we’re are always re-evaluating our ways of making sure we’ve got the appropriate checks and balances. We had an individual who was really actively looking to circumvent those.”
Dr. Frank Warsh, acting medical officer of health, on whether any recommendations emanating from a police investigation into the dismissal of a Elgin St. Thomas Public health inspector will be made public.
City Scope will now take a two-week hiatus for a trek across the U.K. and return May 14.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.