Global Affairs increases security after gift of $2,000 watch to Canada is stolen
Laptops, BlackBerrys, iPads, guns, bullets, bronze plaques and more stolen from government
Global Affairs is beefing up security around its collection of gifts presented to Canadian government officials after a thief made off with a valuable watch worth an estimated $2,000, CBC News has learned.
The department says it does not expect to recover the watch.
Michael O'Shaughnessy, spokesman for Global Affairs, said the tighter security comes after the department discovered that a watch that was turned over "to the Crown" in 2012 had gone missing.
"Security deficiencies respecting the asset inventory were identified and assets have now been moved to a more secure location where an intrusion detection and access control system is being installed."
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While O'Shaughnessy could not verify the make of the watch that was stolen, according to the government's gift registry, two Canadian officials received watches as gifts in 2012 and then "forfeited them to the Crown," which is required when a gift is worth $1,000 or more.
In both cases, the watches were gifts from prominent foreign dignitaries. Ed Fast, who was then international trade minister, received a Tiffany watch from Hassanai Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei, following an official meeting. Kevin Sorenson, then chairman of the public safety committee, received a Bulgari man's wristwatch and a Mondesa woman's wristwatch along with two cellphones, a model ship, a toy tea set and photographs from Jassem Al-Kharafi, speaker of Kuwait's National Assembly.
The purloined watch was just one of hundreds of items reported stolen, missing or damaged in the annual Public Accounts quietly tabled in the House of Commons this week.
Laptops, BlackBerrys, tablets and iPads remain high on the list of equipment lost or stolen. Cars were stolen or vandalized. Someone made off with one of Transport Canada's boats and trailers and another boat from Environment Canada was also stolen.
Weapons and ammunition missing
Public Works and Parks Canada both reported bronze plaques worth $10,000 as being stolen.
Corrections Canada had to deal with $393,095 worth of damage caused by 11 intentional fires set in prisons and $58,061 in damage caused by 92 inmate disturbances — 55 of them at Manitoba's Stony Mountain Institution.
Parks Canada reported $2.2 million worth of damage to a campground from a flood, but has not yet responded to questions for details.
The Department of National Defence reported 1,285 cases of lost weapons or ammunition worth a total $36,584. Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations for National Defence, said the forces take missing or stolen weapons seriously and all cases are investigated.
It also reported 345 cases of theft of combat clothing worth $27,858 and another $17,532 in theft of military specific equipment.
Le Bouthillier said the thefts cover a range of items from footwear to body armour and do not pose a threat to members of the military.
Courts cases and settlements
The Public Accounts also shed light on millions of dollars in settlements of court cases — either out of court, the result of a court ruling or through an ex gratia payment, where the government provides compensation without admitting responsibility.
In some cases, though, the entries raise more questions than they answer. For example, Natural Resources was ordered to pay $7.5 million by the Ontario Superior Court, but refuses to divulge who received the money or even the number of the court case.
The Justice Department reported paying $2.5 million to settle a case of "malicious prosecution" out of court, but justice officials have yet to answer questions from CBC News about the case
Cleaning up Canada's former military base in Lahr, Germany, is continuing to cost taxpayers. National Defence paid $1.6 million last year for environmental cleanup and $75,409 for injury or disability payments to civilians in Lahr.
The Senate reported $694,161 lost "due to an offence, illegal act or accident" following its review of living allowances for senators. While the RCMP has announced it won't launch a criminal investigation, the Senate has been trying to recover money from 15 senators.
Jacqui Delaney, aide to Senator Leo Housakos, said the Senate has recovered $166,000 since the cut-off date for the Public Accounts, bringing the current total to $528,000. She said the senators who have outstanding balances have been given another opportunity to opt for arbitration with retired justice Ian Binnie, and meanwhile the Senate has hired the Auger Hollingsworth law firm to pursue the remaining money.
Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org