theBreaker wanted to know what went on behind the scenes at the University of British Columbia for the hiring, firing and re-hiring of ex-Vancouver 2010 Winer Olympics CEO John Furlong as keynote speaker for its annual athletics fundraising breakfast.
Furlong had been scheduled to speak at the Millennium Scholarship Breakfast on Feb. 28, the seventh anniversary of the 2010 Games closing ceremony. Shortly after it was announced, he was replaced by UBC President Santa Ono.
In a nutshell, Furlong had concealed his initial entry to Canada — in 1969, as a lay, Catholic missionary from Ireland, teaching gym class to aboriginal elementary students in Burns Lake. Journalist Laura Robinson revealed that, and numerous allegations that he had abused his students, in a September 2012 Georgia Straight expose. Furlong sued Robinson and the newspaper, but later dropped his actions. Robinson unsuccessfully sued Furlong for defamation. Contrary to many media reports, the allegations against Furlong have never been tested in court. The judge in Robinson’s defamation case against Furlong did not allow the accusers to testify and Furlong has never sued the accusers.
The RCMP did not recommend charging Furlong and three civil lawsuits did not get to trial. The Mounties are taking a second look at what some believe was a flawed investigation. Several of Furlong’s former students have filed a federal Human Rights Complaint against the RCMP and Trudeau government. They ultimately want Furlong fired from chairman of Olympic athlete funding agency Own the Podium.
So theBreaker filed five Freedom of Information requests for various aspects of the event. Documents should have been released between Jan. 30 and Feb. 22. UBC ignored each and every one of the deadlines, so a complaint was filed April 4 with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
UBC decided to release them on April 24 to theBreaker. The very next day, by some strange coincidence, Douglas Quan of the National Post did a story on the 916-page document dump.
What are some of the highlights?
Page 449: Aug. 25 email, when athletics department staff were considering retired NBA star Steve Nash and Hockey Night in Canada host Ron McLean, but their cost and availability were obstacles. Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro couldn’t fit it into his schedule.
Page 452: Sept. 5 email from Marty Zlotnik of sponsor ZLC Financial’s email to Shantal Cashman on Sept. 5.
Page 453: Furlong’s Sept. 23 Speaking Engagement Contract, which called for $11,000 to be paid to Furlong, plus one table at the event in his name, and reimbursement of expenses, such as ground transportation.
Page 472: A Dec. 20 email to athletic director Gilles Lepine and vice-president Louise Cowin mentioned that Linc Kesler [Director First Nations House of Learning and senior advisor Ono on Aboriginal Affairs) “has raised concern regarding the keynote choice for the Millennium Breakfast with Prof. Ono.”
Page 475: Dec. 22 cancellation letter to Andrea Shaw from Shantal Cashman in UBC Athletics.
“As per the contract terms, this notice has been given within the 2-6 month advance period, and we acknowledge that we forfeit our 50% deposit.”
Page 490: Dec. 30 complaint email – “I am furious that you have cancelled John Furlong as key note speaker… I am not paying $200 to hear the new president speak.”
Page 670: Jan. 5 complaint email – “I do not know Mr. Furlong, except through various news media stories. He strikes me as being a thoroughly decent man, one who has done much for his community and country. My wife… and I were giving serious consideration to making a six figure financial bequest to UBC. Because of the Furlong affair, that is now much less likely to happen.”
Page 709: Dec. 28 complaint email – “I took the opportunity to go to the UBC website and to give a gift of $0.01 in recognition of this cowardly decision. Hopefully the cost of processing that will far exceed any benefit and it is the last penny I will ever give willingly to UBC, including funding any further tuition for my children and their grandchildren. If I had the ability to eliminate every dollar of my tax money that ends up in the UBC coffers, I would go out of my way to make this happen.”
Pages 351 and 833: References to prominent UBC donors David McLean, Brenda McLean and Sacha McLean. The former email, on Jan. 9 and CC’d to Brenda and Sacha McLean, said: “I am so very proud of you and this decision, you have corrected a terrible wrong. “
Pages 720, 752 and 817: Letters from Robinson to Financial Post’s Christie Blatchford, citing various inaccuracies in one of her columns on the controversy, UBC anti-harassment activist Glynnis Kirchmeier’s statement to Ono with evidence from alleged Furlong victims, and links to media coverage about the allegations of abuse.
Page 292: Ono’s Jan. 7 re-invitation email to Furlong and Furlong’s reply.
Page 444: Jan. 19 email from Kathryn Harrison, Acting Dean of Faculty of Arts, reporting a “threatening letter received in my mailbox.”