It was rather ironic to stumble upon the story that British Columbia’s gambling regulator “is investigating the management of River Rock Casino for the handling of alleged incidents in the Casino’s VIP gaming rooms, including an alleged sexual assault involving a VIP gambler and River Rock employees,” as Global News reported—back in mid-August 2018.
And while little has been said about this matter since then, let’s still give B.C. Attorney General David Eby credit where credit’s due, since he did respond to one or more anonymous whistleblowers and ordered B.C. Lottery Chief Executive Jim Lightbody to “immediately look into these serious allegations.” Notably, B.C. Lottery is the gaming enforcement branch that licenses and regulates B.C.’s casino service providers.
Yet, it remains to be seen whether real action with real results will take place. Forgive our skepticism, but Awakening News for nearly 10 years has been reporting that sexual abuses and scores of other problems have been taking place in Ontario’s casinos, particularly Casino Rama near Orillia.
The difference in Ontario is that whistleblowers are effectively muzzled by being told to “get a lawyer” if they contact the Attorney General’s office about virtually identical allegations about Ontario casinos. It’s like night and day. “Get a lawyer” means a closed door for whistleblowers.
Therefore, we’re cautiously optimistic about B.C.’s apparent resolve to take action, especially considering that Canada, as a whole, tends to make a big fuss when something first happens but then casts the matter into an “informational dungeon” until the matter is forgotten—a memory hole that we call “The Time Machine.”
These two examples suffice to explain this concept:
- The Casino Rama data breach of 2016 where the authorities, at first, exhibited lots of apparent “resolve” to get to the bottom of data from thousands of employee and customer files being hacked. But soon, the government went silent.
- The Wilson Letter—correspondence written in February 2015 by MPP Jim Wilson to then-Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne—that tried to call her attention to a thick packet of information detailing alleged sexual abuses and human rights violations under the roof of Casino Rama, along with ongoing workplace hazards that have caused injuries to staff and customers, while violating labour laws.
MPP Wilson was the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) Party’s interim leader at that time in early 2015, but he fell from political grace this year amid vague allegations that he had engaged in sexual misconduct—which resembled the claims that totally befell former Conservative leader Patrick Brown. In both cases, the allegations were made—not through charges filed in a court of law, nor even by way of a police report filed by the alleged victims—but by the shadowy accusers who simply use the media like a proxy prosecutor.
Point of clarity: Brown lost his political seat altogether, while Wilson lost his party position but stayed in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as an independent member. Back when Wilson was part of the PC caucus, he was chosen by his fellow caucus members on July 2, 2014, to serve as interim leader of the PC party and Leader of the Opposition following the resignation of Tim Hudak. He continued to serve as Opposition Leader until September 2015 when the new party leader, none other than Patrick Brown, entered the legislature.
Anyway, the resulting unsubstantiated media reports about sexual misconduct too often become the “indictment” in the media’s “court of public opinion,” with the readers and viewers functioning like a “jury.” From there, the accused, in this case Brown and Wilson, are put out to pasture largely by their own party colleagues who are not above “eating their own” to maintain the status quo.
Brown, a former MP, was outspoken about key issues and was well on his way to becoming head of the Conservatives and Premier of Ontario. And regarding Wilson, we cannot help but wonder whether his letter about the packet of potentially explosive Casino Rama allegations (the packet and letter evidently are still in the files of the Premier’s office, now under Doug Ford), might have been a factor as to why he was kicked out of “the club” alongside Brown.
Granted, this may sound quite speculative. But the Awakening News, and citizens and former casino workers with whom we’ve spoken, are often left with nothing but speculation when silence is the only response from the Ontario Premier’s office and other government agencies that were contacted regarding the Wilson letter.
Indeed, one would have thought Premier Wynne, and now Premier Ford, would have informed the Ontario Attorney General’s Office about Wilson’s letter, using the very same procedure to respond to victims’ allegations as is being followed by B.C.’s authorities about River Rock Casino.
Thus, Ontario’s government should emulate the B.C. authorities, who have at least showed some initiative. But the real test will be whether B.C. can overcome the hypnotic effect of millions of dollars in casino revenue annually flowing into government coffers and into the advertising budgets of the news media. Global News did report B.C. intentions regarding the River Rock allegations but for Canadian media, that’s the rare exception and not the rule.
This massive gravy train of casino revenue, borne of heavy dependency on casinos as an employer and tax-funding spigot, is the chief reason why Ontario—which is pursuing even more growth in its gambling industry—refuses to follow B.C.’s lead. Meanwhile, the stark double standard concerning sexual abuse allegations, which boots politicians out of their positions on a whim but leaves large commercial enterprises like casinos untouched, is the key thing that needs to closely be examined and laid to rest. Enough is enough. Excessive gambling with money is bad enough, but gambling with the rule of law is quite another.
IN OUR NEXT POST: A second look at news of money laundering at Canadian casinos