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Security issues existed long before immigration raid at Vancouver racetrack: Attorney General

Last Updated Sep 5, 2019 at 7:16 pm PDT

David Eby responds to claims by former Finance Minister Mike de Jong that there wasn't evidence of inappropriate behavior at Hastings Racecourse while he was in power. (Marcella Bernardo, NEWS 1130)
Summary

David Eby says he's not to blame for issues at Hastings Racecourse, as they were identified by the former government

B.C.'s Attorney General is standing by his claim the former Liberal government ignored suspicious behavior at racetrack

Newly released reports of a 2016 investigation by Auditor General George Morfitt describe security concerns

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C.’s Attorney General has quickly smacked down criticism from an Opposition MLA about suspicious behaviour at horse racing tracks in the greater Vancouver area, as a corruption investigation into a gaming employee continues.

Eby is sticking by his claims the previous government may have ignored evidence of criminal activity three years ago. The province is investigating an employee following the arrest of seven foreign workers in August at Hastings Racecourse.

RELATED: B.C. may look into money laundering link amid gaming inspector corruption probe

In a letter to Eby from then-Finance Minister Mike de Jong in November 2016, he says about the racecourse: “the unit applies horse racing industry best practices, and the unit has an established approach of regular review and improvement.”

Recommendations made by former Auditor General George Morfitt in 2016 to de Jong, however, indicate there were security issues at Fraser Downs and Hastings Racecourse.

Eby says problems identified in that report were not addressed before the raid by border agents Aug. 19 when seven migrant workers, mainly from Mexico, were arrested at the Hastings track.

“Security at both the Hastings Park and Fraser Downs racetracks is not as rigorous as it needs to be, particularly on non-race days,” Eby said reading from Morfitt’s report.

RELATED: Whistleblower alerted ministry to allegations of wrongdoing at racetrack: Eby

He points to the fact that Morfitt found unlicensed people could access the back-stretch, and that needed to be reviewed.

De Jong, however, says Eby’s letter three years ago made no mention of immigration fraud at either Fraser Downs or Hastings.

Eby says de Jong has “some defensiveness” about his history on the gaming file, but he doesn’t understand “why he would suggest that when he gets a report that says there’s an issue with security and access to the back stretch at Hastings and at Fraser Downs in a recommendation, and when it’s looked at by another government that comes in finds there is serious and systemic issue there, why he doesn’t feel some accountability and responsibility for that given his time on the gaming file.”

Letter exchange between Eby and de Jong, and former Auditor General George Morfitt’s report 
eby documents gaming policy hastings racecourse