VICTORIA - A Liberal government review of the failed internal strategy to win ethnic votes in this May's British Columbia election has Premier Christy Clark vowing to fix mistakes and the Opposition New Democrats screaming for more blood.
So far, two former Liberal insiders Kim Haakstad and Mike Lee have quit over their partisan and secretive activities in the highly-criticized Liberal multicultural strategic outreach plan and another has left the government.
Former communications director Brian Bonney, named in the report for misuse of government resources, left government earlier for a job in the private sector.
The review also cost former multiculturalism minister John Yap — who after originally declaring he was looking forward to being cleared by the review — a return trip to Clark's cabinet.
The report was released on the day the legislature adjourns before the election.
Yap apologized Thursday after John Dyble's review found he participated in secret meetings where confidential information was shared with members of the public and government employees.
Yap said he learned a hard lesson and was heading back to his Richmond-Steveston riding as a backbencher and hoping his constituents re-elect him on May 14.
Clark's last few words in the legislature before the election saw her also apologizing for the damaging outreach program and the report by her own deputy minister who she appointed to investigate the ethnic strategy.
"When you make a mistake, the right thing to do is own up to it, to accept your responsibility, to do everything you can to get to the bottom of it and to fix it," she said. "The test is not whether or not people make mistakes — because they do. The test is how we respond to those mistakes when they are revealed."
The NDP wasn't satisfied with the report and the resignations, calling for a full inquiry with the authority to interview Liberal party officials.
"The people of British Columbia aren't buying this government trying to change the channel from a scandal that starts in the premier's office and works its way to the Liberal party," said NDP caucus chairman Shane Simpson. "A scandal where this government manipulates the public service in order to supply its political party with information and resources. It's an embarrassment, and it's a scandal."
Haakstad, Clark's former deputy chief of staff, resigned earlier for her part in organizing the outreach strategy which proposed connecting taxpayer-funded Liberal government workers with the B.C. Liberal party to mount co-ordinating activities in ethnic communities.
The plan included mounting so-called ethnic wins through apologies in multicultural communities for issues considered historic wrongs, including the Komagata Maru and Chinese head tax policy.
With the release of the report, Lee, a former government ministerial assistant, resigned without severance. The report said Lee and Bonney worked together on the outreach strategy.
Dyble's report concluded the work lines between the B.C. government and the provincial Liberal party were clearly crossed in a government effort to win ethnic votes.
"It is the conclusion of the review team that there were violations of the Public Service Standards of Conduct," said the review. "There are two notable areas where the team determined there was a misuse of government resources."
One misuse involved the payment of $6,800 to a community contractor work approved by Yap without a signed contract, while the second concerned Bonney, who did work for both the government caucus and the Liberal party while he was being paid as a government employee.
Dyble said at least half of Bonney's time was spent doing work for the Liberal party on the ethnic outreach strategy.
"Brian Bonney did not create a clear distinction between his volunteer role with the B.C. Liberal Party and his role in the government," said the report. "Based on evidence, it would appear to a reasonable person that he may have spent up to half of his time on partisan activities. This ... amounts to a serious breach of the standards of conduct."
Finance ministry officials said Bonney was paid $124,000 during the period from October 2011 to Feb. 21, 2013.
Clark met with the media after the report's release and said the B.C. Liberal Party has written a $70,000 cheque to the government to repay some of the work Bonney did on government time.
The Liberal plan to win the ethnic vote in this May's election was leaked earlier this month and has already forced the premier to apologize several times.
Dyble report's recommended Clark's Chief of Staff Dan Doyle take appropriate disciplinary and corrective actions against those involved in hatching the plan.
"People are not perfect, but it is my firm belief that leadership demands responsibility. This document isn't easy reading for any of us in government," Clark said.
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Documents Leaked - Feb. 27, 2013
Leaked B.C. Liberal documents revealing a wide-ranging plan with links to senior officials in Premier Christy Clark's office to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/27/bc-ethnic-vote-plan-liberals-leaked_n_2777292.html">win ethnic votes</a> in the upcoming May election are released by the B.C. NDP. Clark is seen here on a visit to India in 2011.
NDP Reaction - Feb. 27, 2013
"No one has any dispute about the rich multicultural heritage in B.C. and the obligation of government to celebrate that and to build upon various communities in every corner of the province," said NDP House Leader John Horgan. "What we object to, and I think every British Columbian would object to, is their tax dollars being used to prop up the B.C. Liberal election machinery."
Premier Apologizes - Feb. 28, 2013
"I want to sincerely apologize to British Columbians," said a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/28/bc-ethnic-vote-plan-inquiry-christy-clark-apologizes_n_2784464.html">statement from Premier Christy Clark</a>. "The document did not recognize there are lines that cannot be crossed in conducting this outreach and it is unacceptable."
Review Announced - Feb. 28, 2013
The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/28/bc-ethnic-vote-plan-inquiry-christy-clark-apologizes_n_2784464.html">B.C. Liberal government promises a review</a> into a plan to woo ethnic voters.
Kim Haakstad Resigns - March 1, 2013
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/01/kim-haakstad-resigns-christy-clark-ethnic-vote_n_2793904.html?1362197245&utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia">Kim Haakstad</a>, the B.C. premier's deputy chief of staff, resigns. She sent a strategy document to several of the premier's staff that outlined a plan to woo ethnic voters.
Internal Criticism - March 1, 2013
"This proposed outreach plan was insulting to the intended targeted communities and was, when I found out about it, insulting to me and to all other MLAs who believe in doing things properly, fairly and within the rules and laws of the legislature," Liberal MLA <a href="http://www.davehayermla.ca/">Dave Hayer</a>. "In all my 12 years as an MLA I have always reached out to all communities, regardless of ethnic background, because that is the right thing to do. I believe in doing the right thing, regardless of whether it will, or will not, 'win the vote' of any particular group."
Review Underway - March 1, 2013
"For the record, been given an early summary in 24 hrs, the terms of reference are out, a number of interviews needed. Plan progressing," said a tweet by deputy premier Rich Coleman. He added: "I am satisfied with the first steps to review what occurred here and fully support @christyclarkbc."
Chinese Community Outraged - March 1, 2013
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/01/bc-ethnic-vote-plan-chinese-community_n_2792877.html">Bill Chu</a>, chair of the Canadian Reconciliation Society, called the premier's apology "not acceptable." "In the leaked document, you can see the wording in it, how they want to manipulate our community — not just our community, but the entire multicultural community," Chu said. "It's full of disrespect."
Emergency Cabinet Meeting - March 3, 2013
Christy Clark calls an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/03/christy-clark-emergency-cabinet-meeting_n_2800276.html">emergency meeting</a> of her cabinet held on a rare weekend.
Too Legit To Quit - March 3, 2013
A calm, confident <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/03/christy-clark-emergency-cabinet-meeting_n_2800276.html">Christy Clark brushes aside questions about her leadership</a> after a three-hour emergency cabinet meeting. "This group is absolutely united and we have a lot of work to do on behalf of the people of British Columbia" she said. "We're going to get on to that work."
Cabinet Reaction - March 3, 2013
"Christy Clark is our premier. She's going to be our leader," said <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/03/christy-clark-emergency-cabinet-meeting_n_2800276.html">Bill Bennett</a>, minister of sport and culture after an emergency cabinet meeting. But he added: "We've made some mistakes. This last one was a doozy."
Calls For Premier's Resignation - March 3, 2013
Liberal party member Virkram Bajwa said the leaked document has "made the ethnic vote a joke," and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/03/christy-clark-emergency-cabinet-meeting_n_2800276.html">demanded the premier's resignation</a> on behalf of a group of Indo-Canadian Liberal members. "In order for us to gain and come back to the government, she has to resign and somebody new has to come and lead the party into elections," he said.
Cabinet Reaction - March 3, 2013
"We shared some inner feelings," said Ben Stewart, minister of citizen services and open government after an emergency cabinet meeting. "There's certainly disappointment at so many people close to government involved in these activities."
Cabinet Reaction - March 3, 2013
"This was the first chance we had to talk about last week (with the premier)," said Health Minister <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/03/christy-clark-emergency-cabinet-meeting_n_2800276.html">Margaret MacDiarmid</a>. "Everybody's very concerned about it, disturbed by it and wanted to move forward. We talked about that."
Cabinet Reaction - March 3, 2013
"We're all here to stick together and do our jobs," said Jobs Minister <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/03/christy-clark-emergency-cabinet-meeting_n_2800276.html">Pat Bell</a>. "I'm as committed as I've ever been to Christy."
Minister Resigns - March 4, 2013
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/04/bc-ethnic-vote-john-yap-resigns-christy-clark-caucus_n_2807240.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia">John Yap</a>, the minister responsible for multiculturalism, steps aside during the review into the ethnic votes strategy. He said he's taking responsibility for the report's contents — but also said he had never seen the document, which was written several months before Yap joined cabinet.
Debate Is 'Nauseating' - March 8, 2013
Former B.C. premier <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/08/ujjal-dosanjh-bc-ethnic-vote-debate_n_2840019.html" target="_blank">Ujjal Dosanjh</a>, seen in this 2005 photo, says the ethnic vote-winning debate that has hammered British Columbia's Liberals and forced them to issue numerous apologies is nauseating, sanctimonious and holier-than-thou.
Damning Report Released - March 14, 2013
A <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/14/bc-ethnic-vote-plan-report-dyble-liberals_n_2877534.html" target="_blank">report by deputy minister John Dyble</a> into the ethnic outreach plan finds the B.C. Liberal government misused public money and breached standards of conduct.
Breach Of Standards Of Conduct
Brian Bonney, a former Liberal government communications official, spent half his time working on the ethnic outreach plan for the Liberal party while being paid as a government employee, concluded a report. "This ... amounts to a serious breach of the standards of conduct," said the report by deputy minister John Dyble.
Cheque Written - March 14, 2013
After John Dyble's report is released, Premier Christy Clark tells media that the B.C. Liberal Party has written a $70,000 cheque to the government to repay some of the work ex-communications official Brian Bonney did on government time.