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The purloined papers: Louie confronts Global; aide refutes Lee's story

Coun. Raymond Louie has threatened legal action in response to a Global news report that suggested the Vision Vancouver councillor was a suspect in the ongoing investigation into who leaked news of the $100-million Olympic Village bailout.

“The story that aired at 6 p.m. last night on Global TV casts aspersions on me that are completely untrue,” Louie told a Thursday afternoon news conference.

“I am considering legal action over the insinuation that I had any involvement with regards to Coun. Ladner’s in-camera document,” Louie added.

Anonymous caller tipped Global

Louie was reacting to a Nov. 12 News Hour report at the top of which anchor Chris Gailus said, “A city hall internal investigation may have singled out one councilor at as suspect.”

Ron Bencze reported on the Vancouver Police Department investigation, and then provided the following timeline of city hall events on the evening of Oct. 16:

“At 5:14 p.m., councilor Lee swipes in. About half an hour later he leaves for dinner.”

“At 5:56 p.m. Councilor Raymond Louie swipes in. For over an hour, he’s all alone, until Councilor Kim Capri swipes in at 7:06 p.m.”

“B.C. Lee returns five minutes later, discovers the documents and informs the deputy mayor.”

Bencze told The Tyee that Global received the key card data from an anonymous caller on Tuesday night.

“It wasn’t until afterwards, on Wednesday, that we got independent verification of that timeline,” he said.

Bencze said he personally inspected a printout of the key card data. When asked who showed him the printout, he said, “A high ranking employee at city hall. I won’t get too specific.”

Lee’s assistant refutes Global report

Coun. Lee’s assistant, Cecelia Smith, refuted the Global version of events in a sworn statement released by Vision Vancouver this afternoon:

“On Thursday, October 16, 2008, sometime between 2 p.m. and 3:46 p.m. when I was in my Councillor’s Assistant cubicle, Coun. Lee motioned me to come to his office.

“I immediately walked to his office and entered it. He told me to close the door behind me, which I did. He then told me that he had found the missing in camera document. I asked him where he found it and he said on his table; he also said it wasn’t there on his table when he looked previously.”

Smith’s statement concluded with a note about why she had come forward:

“I am making this declaration because I was advised by Councillor’s Assistant Marie Kangalee that she had heard on the 6 p.m. news today that the missing in camera document was found after 5 p.m. on October 16, 2008, and I know this not to be true or accurate.”

Louie said he had provided Smith’s statement to the Vancouver Police Department, and welcomed the outcome it its investigation.

“Someone at City Hall is maliciously putting out false information to the media in an attempt to destroy my reputation,” Louie said.

Lee refutes Smith’s sworn statement

The Tyee read a portion of Smith’s statement to NPA Coun. Lee shortly after it was released.

“That’s impossible. Totally impossible,” Lee replied. “No. No.”

Lee said the sequence of events reported on Global was correct.

“I am absolutely certain that I found it shortly before the public hearing,” he said. “The sequence is correct. The exact timing, I do not recall.”

Lee, who is not seeking re-election, said that, until Thursday, “I had no idea that when we swipe our card it was all recorded.”

Louie not 'all alone' after all

Global reporter Bencze said the key card data only shows when an employee enters the councillors’ office area; it does not indicate whether or not they departed.

“We can only assume Raymond Louie didn’t leave,” he said.

And Bencze clarified Louie was not the only person in the area, just the only councilor.

“There were other people who did swipe in, such as cleaners or security staff,” Bencze told The Tyee. He said that was part of why Global excised the line, “For over an hour, he’s all alone,” when it rebroadcast the piece on its 11 p.m. newscast.

“We certainly got an earful from Vision,” Bencze said. “So we edited that one part out.”

Bencze said the Canwest station tried to reach Louie for a response on Wednesday night, but said the councilor did not return their calls.

“I think it was a fair piece,” Bencze said. “We tried to delineate the timeline, and leave it for other people to make their own judgement.”

Yet another city leak?

NPA mayoral candidate Peter Lander has confirmed that his document went missing for about two days.

No one has confirmed whether or not Ladner’s missing document was the source by which The Globe and Mail verified Gary Mason’s Nov 6 column – or even if there was a source.

Vancouver city spokesperson Leslie Bolt refused to confirm the Global timeline, and said the city “would never release security details” such as the key card data.

When asked whether the Global report constituted yet another leak of confidential information, Bolt told The Tyee, “We can’t comment on this matter because there’s an ongoing police investigation.”

Louie decried the continued lack of response from the city.

“The culture of secrecy and cloak-and-dagger politics is unnecessary and is absolutely an embarrassment to our citizens,” Louie said. “There needs to be a clean break from NPA politics.”

Monte Paulsen is investigative editor of The Tyee.

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