VICTORIA - A government aide at the heart of a scandal over B.C. Liberal efforts to woo ethnic voters was prepared to offer a job to dissuade someone who apparently had the potential to embarrass Premier Christy Clark before the election, an email appears to suggest.
NDP Leader Adrian Dix highlighted the September 2012 email Monday during question period and demanded to know what information could be so damaging that a Liberal staffer might be willing to hire a malcontent to keep the person quiet.
"Why would the government do that?" Dix said in the legislature.
"Why would the government offer a financial inducement to silence a staff person who could damage the premier and the Liberal party?"
Dix was referring to an email included in 10,000 pages released by the government on its open government website as part of the investigation into a scandal last spring about Liberal efforts to gain so-called "quick wins" in ethnic communities.
John Dyble, the premier's deputy minister, conducted a review that found the work lines between the B.C. government and the provincial Liberal party were clearly crossed in a government effort to win ethnic votes. The review caused Clark's popularity ratings to plunge and forced the resignation of her multiculturalism minister and of two Liberal insiders.
Near the end of the documents released as part of the government's response to the scandal is an email from Brian Bonney, a former communications director who was named in Dyble's report for misuse of government resources. Before Dyble's report was issued, Bonney left government for a job in the private sector.
The email highlighted by the NDP is heavily redacted. But part of it suggests former cabinet minister Harry Bloy "meet with her and explain how doing anything would damage the premier and the party. Have him say how he will try to find her work and get her back involved."
The email goes on to suggest that if the response to that tactic doesn't work, "Brian" should meet her and do the same.
If the unnamed person still can't be convinced, "if need be, offer x dollars per month to do non-public work up to election (developing her database of potential supporters.)"
The email is signed Brian Bonney.
Bonney could not be immediately reached for comment, and there's no indication if a job was actually ever offered.
Newly appointed Multiculturalism Minister Teresa Wat provided no explanation for what was being discussed in the email, nor who was the subject of it.
Instead, she repeatedly noted that Clark had called a review into the ethnic vote strategy and had apologized for it.
"The language and ideas contained in the draft document are all wrong," Wat said.
"Our premier has shown strong leadership and has taken responsibility by ordering a full review of this incident. A full report was delivered, and the government has accepted all the recommendations."
Wat was later grilled by reporters outside the house about whether she would look into the NDP's allegations.
"I wasn't the multiculturalism minister then. I wasn't involved in this report. I don't know what the specifics are in that report, and all I can say is let's move on," she said and then urged reporters to ask the author of the email what he meant.
Wat said the government has been completely transparent in the investigation, noting all 10,000 pages are posted online for anyone to see.
But Dix said the Liberals have never addressed the issue raised by the email.
"I'm sure it will be news to the Liberal caucus and to the people of B.C. that the premier took full responsibility for an effort to silence an employee who would damage the premier and the Liberal party before the election. She did no such thing," he said.
He also noted the documents were released after the election.
Correspondence that appear in the documents on the open government website in the pages before the email show a community liaison worker who helped organize events in ethnic communities was extremely frustrated about communication with the Yap's office.
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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
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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.