The news story of the day involves Liberal Peter Dawe — who unexpectedly pulled out of the byelection race in the provincial district of Topsail on the same day that the election date was set in stone for Tuesday, March 16th.
Dawe, former head of the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society, said he was bowing out of the race due to a medical condition. He didn’t elaborate.
The news comes two days after The Telegram published a letter to the editor by Dr. Pradip Ganguly — a top cancer specialist who serves as chief of radiation oncology with Eastern Health — slamming the provincial chapter of the Cancer Society.
(On a side note, CBC TV reported that the letter was written in December, but "lost" until last week.)
Ganguly wrote that Daffodil Place is in serious financial crisis, criticizing the decision to build the $7-million, 24-room hostel in the first place.
He says the money needed to keep Daffodil Place afloat is diverting much-needed funds from more important causes and needs.
Ganguly said he expects a thorough analysis of the Cancer Society’s books.
This isn’t the first time questions have been raised about the financial practices of the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society.
The following article was published in the Nov. 2-8th edition of The Independent.
Former cancer society executive says donations
used improperly; society denies allegations
By Ivan Morgan
A former director of revenue development for the Newfoundland chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society says she was fired last spring when she raised concerns about a $250,000 donation.
Edie Newton, who was hired by the society on Oct. 2, 2006, says she was fired in May for insubordination for questioning why money donated by the Loyal Orange Lodge Association, specifically for Daffodil Place, a hostel the society is currently building for people living outside St. John’s who must travel to the city for cancer treatment, was instead applied to the cancer society’s operating funds to cover a large operating deficit.
“You cannot include that in your operating funds. It has to be kept separate,” Newton tells The Independent.
“It (the donation) has to be used for Daffodil Place and it also has to be clear in your financial statements that that what the gift was for. That’s not what they did.”
Newton says it was common knowledge within the cancer society that there would be a deficit because revenue targets were not reached in the summer of 2006. She alleges the money was put in operating funds to cover the targets in order to apply for bridge funding from a local bank.
Newton says the society presented audited financial statements which she alleges are untrue, and she has filed a formal complaint against the society’s independent auditor with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Newton says as a fundraising professional she felt duty bound to question why restricted funds were used the way they were. She questioned both the donor and the outside auditor herself personally.
Newton says a spokesperson for the Loyal Orange Lodge Association told her they had no discussion with the society about the funds being used for operating expenses.
Judy Barnes, of the Loyal Orange Lodge Association, who also sits on the Daffodil Place’s management committee, says she is familiar with the accusations.
“I don’t have any problem with it. It is all above board.”
She says the money did not go into operating funds. She says the money was earmarked for Daffodil Place and “that’s where the money has gone.”
On the advice of her lawyer, Newton says she asked the executive director about the matter, which she says led to her firing, despite previous positive performance reviews.
Newton says she has complained to the national office of the Canadian Cancer Society, filed a complaint with the RNC, and filed a complaint against the society’s auditor.
Peter Dawe, executive director of the local chapter of the Cancer Society, says there is no substance to the allegations, which he says are totally false.
He says Newton’s complaints were investigated by the national organization and they found no evidence of misuse of donated funds.
“The bottom line is that the Loyal Orange Lodge donated $250,000 to build Daffodil Place, and every cent of the $250,000 is being used to build Daffodil Place,” says Dawe.
Royal Newfoundland Constabulary spokesperson Paul Davis says their investigation did not find enough evidence to warrant the laying of charges.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants says they will begin their investigation into Newton’s charges next week.
The national president of the Canadian Cancer Society says her staff investigated the allegations and found nothing wrong.
“We had our auditors take a look at the accounting practices that were used to account for those funds, and we’re satisfied that it was a proper approach that was used,” says Barbara Whylie.
Dawe says the RNC investigation and the internal audit shows no misconduct. He says the investigation into the external auditor will also exonerate the society.
“They won’t come up with a different result than the RNC.”
Newton provided a list of former employees of the society who she said would vouch for her.
Heather Rogers, former database manager, who says she was let go from the society, says Newton’s complaint is credible.
“Without a doubt. She is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. Honest and very, very ethical.”
She says she is “very familiar” with the issue and says in her opinion Newton was fired for speaking up.
Gina Smith, a 17-year employee of the society, says she was let go on Oct. 29 for supporting Newton.
She says while she was formally told restructuring made her job redundant, she says a private e-mail of support she sent to Newton — her supervisor — from her home the day Newton was fired also went to Newton’s work account, and came to the attention of Dawe.
Smith says she was “interrogated on every sentence in the e-mail” and given a letter of reprimand.
She said from that time onward she felt she was “taken out of the loop” and felt her dismissal was imminent. She says Newton “felt in her heart what she was doing was honest and right.”
A number of other former employees of the cancer society have substantiated Newton’s claims, but have asked that their names not be published.
Dawe says Newton is “an ex-employee who is maliciously trying to smear what most people would think is a very needed project in the province.”
He questions why Newton is being so persistent with her allegations if no one else sees the issue. When told she says she was fired for bringing this issue up, he challenges her statement.
“Well that’s her version of it. I just told you she was a probationary employee who had her probation extended because obviously her performance wasn’t satisfactory. She brought up the allegation after that.”
“In the meantime, I would take it quite personally and the organization would take it quite serious if a disgruntled employee’s — a former employee’s — allegation is given merit without some substantiation to it.